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On my 2011 MacBook Air with Mac OS X Lion, and I boot into Recovery mode via holding the command-R key during startup, if I go into Terminal and do a diskutil list, I get a list of 12(!) logical disks. Disk0 is of course the disk holding the main HD and the Recovery HD partitions (along with the GUID partition and the EFI partition). But there is also a disk1 with partitions including one titled Mac OS X Base System that is approximately 1.39 GB big. There also are 10 other disks of varying but small sizes. What are these other logical disks (and partitions) and is there any way to reclaim their space? Update: Here is a copy of the diskutil list output. It's rather complicated, and actually a lot of the complexity is to avoid wasting space; I don't think you can 'reclaim' anything without breaking it.
Let me start at the beginning: your hard drive (/dev/disk0) has two relevant partitions: Macintosh HD (your regular startup volume), and Recovery HD. Recovery HD is marked in the partition table with the type Apple_Boot, but is actually in the normal HFS+ format. It contains minimal booter files and kernel, and at /com.apple.recovery.boot/BaseSystem.dmg, a disk image with a stripped-down and tweaked copy of OS X.
The booter mounts this volume (it attaches as /dev/disk1), and transfers to OS X running on it. How to get audible on kindle books for macbook air. This is the Mac OS X Base System. Notice that the Recovery HD is only 650MB, but Mac OS X Base System is 1.4GB? That's because it's a compressed disk image (and I'm pretty sure that compression is the reason they bother with all this disk image trickery). Actually, BaseSystem.dmg is compressed down to only 451MB (at least in OS X v10.7.0).
Also, the volume naming is somewhat inconsistent. You've got /dev/disk1s3 named 'Recovery HD', but for some reason it's mounted as '/Volumes/Image Volume' in recovery mode. BaseSystem.dmg has a volume named 'Mac OS X Base System'. So that's disk0 and disk1; what about the rest? I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure they are RAM disks to save temporary data in folders OS X modifies as it runs (remember that in recovery mode, you're running from a read-only disk image).