Inside the termite there is none of the helter-skelter and frenetic searching of lower protozoa, the batting off the walls, the heart attack pace of test tube life. Inside the termite there is slow dignity without oxygen."" Janovy, a Nebraska life sciences professor, brings more than dignity to his termites and other biological beauties: he brings some of Lewis Thomas' wonder, although without the cosmic weight. Keith County, west of Lincoln, is home to Stagnicola elodes (""the snail king of Keystone Lake""), marsh and rock wrens, cliff swallows, grasshoppers, killifish--whole empires to admire. It's also a breeding ground for biologists who suck knuckles to sound like baby birds in distress, check out thrashers for malaria, and then suffer the Ogallala Blues when returned to civilization. Janovy, writing with a keen graduate-school sensibility and sense of humor, seems to make the best of both worlds, rejoicing in his Keith County sojourns, finding pleasure in his lab work (""Most of my best research ideas have crept into my mind while washing test tubes""), and never losing sight of his larger purposes. ""The question of whether Trichodina is cellula or acellular is exactly the kind of word game we often use to distract ourselves from the significant and beautiful."" Agile and contemplative, with strong local coloring.