Swallowtail butterflies frolic on the wind. Vireos and rock wrens sing their hearts out by the recovering creek. Spiders and other predators chase their next meal. Through it all, John Alcock observes, records, and delights in what he sees. In a once-burnt area, life resurges. Plants whose seeds and roots withstood an intense fire become habitat for the returning creatures of the wild. After the Wildfire describes the remarkable recovery of wildlife in the Mazatzal Mountains in central Arizona.
It is the rare observer who has the dedication to revisit the site of a wildfire, especially over many years and seasons. But naturalist John Alcock returned again and again to the Mazatzals, where the disastrous Willow fire of 2004 burned 187 square miles. Documenting the fire’s aftermath over a decade, Alcock thrills at the renewal of the once-blackened region. Walking the South Fork of Deer Creek in all seasons as the years passed, he was rewarded by the sight of exuberant plant life that in turn fostered an equally satisfying return of animals ranging from small insects to large mammals.
Alcock clearly explains the response of chaparral plants to fire and the creatures that reinhabit these plants as they come back from a ferocious blaze: the great spreadwing damselfly, the western meadowlark, the elk, and birds and bugs of rich and colorful varieties. This book is at once a journey of biological discovery and a celebration of the ability of living things to reoccupy a devastated location. Alcock encourages others to engage the natural world—even one that has burnt to the ground.
Breeding on remote ocean islands and spending much of its life foraging for food across vast stretches of seemingly empty seas, the albatross remains a legend for most people. And yet, humans are threatening the albatross family to such an extent that it is currently the most threatened bird group in the world. In this extensively researched, highly readable book, Robin W. Doughty and Virginia Carmichael tell the story of a potentially catastrophic extinction that has been interrupted by an unlikely alliance of governments, conservation groups, and fishermen.
Doughty and Carmichael authoritatively establish that the albatross's fate is linked to the fate of two of the highest-value table fish, Bluefin Tuna and Patagonian Toothfish, which are threatened by unregulated commercial harvesting. The authors tell us that commercial fishing techniques are annually killing tens of thousands of albatrosses. And the authors explain how the breeding biology of albatrosses makes them unable to replenish their numbers at the rate they are being depleted. Doughty and Carmichael set the albatross's fate in the larger context of threats facing the ocean commons, ranging from industrial overfishing to our habit of dumping chemicals, solid waste, and plastic trash into the open seas. They also highlight the efforts of dedicated individuals, environmental groups, fishery management bodies, and governments who are working for seabird and fish conservation and demonstrate that these efforts can lead to sustainable solutions for the iconic seabirds and the entire ocean ecosystem.
In Alien Species and Evolution, biologist George W. Cox reviews and synthesizes emerging information on the evolutionary changes that occur in plants, animals, and microbial organisms when they colonize new geographical areas, and on the evolutionary responses of the native species with which alien species interact.
The book is broad in scope, exploring information across a wide variety of taxonomic groups, trophic levels, and geographic areas. It examines theoretical topics related to rapid evolutionary change and supports the emerging concept that species introduced to new physical and biotic environments are particularly prone to rapid evolution. The author draws on examples from all parts of the world and all major ecosystem types, and the variety of examples used gives considerable insight into the patterns of evolution that are likely to result from the massive introduction of species to new geographic regions that is currently occurring around the globe.
Alien Species and Evolution is the only state-of-the-art review and synthesis available of this critically important topic, and is an essential work for anyone concerned with the new science of invasion biology or the threats posed by invasive species.
Amidst Mad Cow scares and consumer concerns about how farm animals are bred, fed, and raised, many farmers and homesteaders are rediscovering the traditional practice of pastoral farming. Grasses, clovers, and forbs are the natural diet of cattle, horses, and sheep, and are vital supplements for hogs, chickens, and turkeys. Consumers increasingly seek the health benefits of meat from animals raised in green paddocks instead of in muddy feedlots.
In All Flesh Is Grass: The Pleasures and Promises of Pasture Farming, Gene Logsdon explains that well-managed pastures are nutritious and palatable—virtual salads for livestock. Leafy pastures also hold the soil, foster biodiversity, and create lovely landscapes. Grass farming might be the solution for a stressed agricultural system based on an industrial model and propped up by federal subsidies.
In his clear and conversational style, Logsdon explains historically effective practices and new techniques. His warm, informative profiles of successful grass farmers offer inspiration and ideas. His narrative is enriched by his own experience as a “contrary farmer” on his artisan-scale farm near Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
All Flesh Is Grass will have broad appeal to the sustainable commercial farmer, the home-food producer, and all consumers who care about their food.
Elephants have fascinated humans for millennia. Aristotle wrote of them with awe; Hannibal used them in warfare; and John Donne called the elephant “Nature’s greatest masterpiece. . . . The only harmless great thing.” Their ivory has been sought after and treasured in most cultures, and they have delighted zoo and circus audiences worldwide for centuries. But it wasn’t until the second half of the twentieth century that people started to take an interest in elephants in the wild, and some of the most important studies of these intelligent giants have been conducted at Amboseli National Park in Kenya.
The Amboseli Elephants is the long-awaited summation of what’s been learned from the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP)—the longest continuously running elephant research project in the world. Cynthia J. Moss and Harvey Croze, the founders of the AERP, and Phyllis C. Lee, who has been closely involved with the project since 1982, compile more than three decades of uninterrupted study of over 2,500 individual elephants, from newborn calves to adult bulls to old matriarchs in their 60s. Chapters explore such topics as elephant ecosystems, genetics, communication, social behavior, and reproduction, as well as exciting new developments from the study of elephant minds and cognition. The book closes with a view to the future, making important arguments for the ethical treatment of elephants and suggestions to aid in their conservation.
The most comprehensive account of elephants in their natural environment to date, The Amboseli Elephants will be an invaluable resource for scientists, conservationists, and anyone interested in the lives and loves of these extraordinary creatures.
John Hirsch chronicles the research, scientists, and ephemera of the Harvard Forest—a 3,750-acre research forest in Petersham, Massachusetts. Essays by David Foster, Clarisse Hart, and Margot Anne Kelley expand the scope of this photographic exploration at the nexus of science and art.Hirsch is attentive to both the quixotic and the beautiful, and has created a body of work that is about a desire to understand, describe, and predict the evolution of our surroundings, while showing reverence for the possibility of sublime moments in a place. The forest is here a microcosm for the world in which we live, and this work helps us envision the future we may inhabit, making the book a useful and engaging vantage from which to consider pressing issues of climate change, ecosystem resilience, and land and water use.
A collection of essays on the ecology, biodiversity, and restoration of the Texas Hill Country.
For most of five decades, evolutionary biologist David Hillis has studied the biodiversity of the Texas Hill Country. Since the 1990s, he has worked to restore the natural beauty and diversity of his Mason County ranch, the Double Helix. In his excursions around his ranch and across the Edwards Plateau, Hillis came to realize how little most people know about the plants and animals around them or their importance to our everyday lives. He began thinking about how natural history is connected to our enjoyment of life, especially in a place as beautiful and beloved as the Hill Country, which, not coincidentally, happens to be one of the most biodiverse parts of Texas.
Featuring short nontechnical essays accompanied by vivid color photos, Armadillos to Ziziphus is a charming and casual introduction to the environment of the region. Whether walking the pasture with his Longhorn cattle, explaining the ecological significance of microscopic organisms in springtime mud puddles, or marveling at the local Ziziphus (aka Lotebush, a spiny shrub), Hillis guides first-time visitors and long-term residents alike in an appreciation for the Hill Country’s natural beauty and diversity.
A richly illustrated, captivating study of army ants, nature’s preeminent social hunters.A swarm raid is one of nature’s great spectacles. In tropical rainforests around the world, army ants march in groups by the thousands to overwhelm large solitary invertebrates, along with nests of termites, wasps, and other ants. They kill and dismember their prey and carry it back to their nest, where their hungry brood devours it. They are the ultimate social hunters, demonstrating the most fascinating collective behavior.In Army Ants we see how these insects play a crucial role in promoting and sustaining the biodiversity of tropical ecosystems. The ants help keep prey communities in check while also providing nutrition for other animals. Many species depend on army ants for survival, including a multitude of social parasites, swarm-following birds, and flies. And while their hunting behavior, and the rules that govern it, are clearly impressive, army ants display collective behavior in other ways that are no less dazzling. They build living nests, called bivouacs, using their bodies to protect the queen and larvae. The ants can even construct bridges over open space or obstacles by linking to one another using their feet. These incredible feats happen without central coordination. They are the result of local interactions—self-organization that benefits the society at large.Through observations, stories, and stunning images, Daniel Kronauer brings these fascinating creatures to life. Army ants may be small, but their collective intelligence and impact on their environment are anything but.
Understanding how ecosystems are assembled -- how the species that make up a particular biological community arrive in an area, survive, and interact with other species -- is key to successfully restoring degraded ecosystems. Yet little attention has been paid to the idea of assembly rules in ecological restoration,
in both the scientific literature and in on-the-ground restoration efforts.
Assembly Rules and Restoration Ecology, edited by Vicky M. Temperton, Richard J. Hobbs, Tim Nuttle, and Stefan Halle, addresses that shortcoming, offering an introduction, overview, and synthesis of the potential role of assembly rules theory in restoration ecology. It brings together information and ideas relating to ecosystem assembly in a restoration context, and includes material from a wide geographic range and a variety of perspectives.
Assembly Rules and Restoration Ecology contributes new knowledge and ideas to the subjects of assembly rules and restoration ecology and represents an important summary of the current status of an emerging field. It combines theoretical and practical aspects of restoration, making it a vital compendium of information and ideas for restoration ecologists, professionals, and practitioners.
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