Volume 2, hoofed mammals, is now out. I know one blog member here who posted a pretty scathing comment on it on the lynx site, but I figured I would put my 2 cents in.
P.S. there is a long thread about this series on birdforum.net, where I already posted this:
Things I liked: Overall I was pretty happy with the photos. I thought they had a nice balance of rare and common taxa, and showcased most of the range of behaviors nicely. The illustrations were great. The taxonomy was overall consistent (with the exception of the Bovidae), incorporating new discoveries and findings, but staying somewhat conservative. Some sections were incredibly well written; the Rhino conservation section is probably one of the most concise and well written accounts I have read of the problems for the group.
Things that I didn’t like: Some plates seemed a little too packed, especially the Horse plate, which I think would have worked better as two plates, one for zebras and one for everything else. This volume seemed to do a little worse than previous volumes as far as geographic variation. I would have liked to have seen more illustrated forms for White-tailed Deer (where is Key Deer?) and the Collared Peccary. At times the taxonomy seems a little too conservative, especially the approach towards subspecies.
The different chapters also were rather uneven in what they covered. Some sections give a good synopsis of the fossil record, others completely ignore it. The humans and pigs portion is really most about humans and pigs in southeast asia. etc.
Finally, the Bovid section. For those who hadn’t heard, the Authors are in the process of publishing a major taxonomic overhaul of this group and all other ungulates, and generally are considered extreme splitters. Something like an additional hundred species are recognized in this chapter, with practically every African species getting split into anywhere from 2 to 10 taxa. I think some of these splits will stand the test of time (depending on your view of species concepts), while I think others are premature. Also the reasoning behind many wasn’t really presented very well. It seems the authors wish the reader to refer to the Ungulate Taxonomy book, but this hasn’t even been published yet!
Also, just to be clear, I don’t think the Bovidae section really “follows” the PSC; It instead appears to be a retooling of the morphological species complex, and the authors often rely on a single gene as basis for there split, and appear to be selective in their choice of studies to follow.
Incidentally there is no right choice to follow between BSC or PSC…both concepts have their strengths and weaknesses, and the only important thing is to be consistent in how you apply them.