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Review of ‘Mammals of North America’ for iOS

Princeton University Press is the publisher of dozens of field guides recognized for their quality images and concise texts. Mammals of North America is the first in the field guide series to become an app. Additional access points and the ability to take notes are just two of the enhancements found in this format. In her review below, Andrea Lipinski elaborates on others.

Screen shot from 'Mammals of North America' (Princeton Univ. Press)

Title: Mammals of North America
Authors: Roland W. Kays and Don E. Wilson
Published by: Princeton University Press
Developed by
: PDA Solutions and
Platform: iOS, requires 3.0 or later
Version: 1.0
Price: $19.99

Gr 7 Up-Enormous in scope and with a price tag to match, Mammals of North America brings the field guide of the same name (Princeton University Press, 2009) to a new level. The app adds layers of content, such as sound recordings of many land and marine animals, a “compare” feature that allows viewers look at two creatures side-by-side, an illustrated “tracks” chart, and a “my location” feature that creates a list of animals by ZIP code or GPS.

The controls are intuitive, and users will learn quickly how to access information about each species by tapping on different parts of the screen. Readers can search by common or scientific names, and can have the list of animals ordered alphabetically or taxonomically. Under “Smart Search” entries can be accessed by such categories as “seagoing mammals” and “carnivores.” A glossary is also available. In many ways, this app is more valuable than the original book as a tool for anyone who needs help identifying mammals. However, there are several issues that can detract from users’ satisfaction.

Because so many of the 462 mammals included here have complete records–text, images (photos and/or drawings), audio, and a distribution map–the partial records stand out. Why tell viewers about the “metallic churring sound” made by the Singing Vole, and not include a sound file? Why include the Unalaska Collared Lemming record if it contains only text–no illustration, no sound, and no map (“Distibution [sic] Map Not Available”)? The depth of this app remarkable, but some entries are incomplete.Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library, NY


  1. Definitely a great app for those animal lovers, hikers, biologist and people interested in the animal variety of North America which is rich and beautiful. I am a person living in Toronto and I find that even is a big city, is still surrounded by a huge fauna and flora.