No Way Home: The Decline of the World's Great Animal Migrations

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Animal migration is a magnificent sight: a mile-long blanket of cranes rising from a Nebraska river and filling the sky; hundreds of thousands of wildebeests marching across the Serengeti; a blaze of orange as millions of monarch butterflies spread their wings to take flight. Nature’s great migrations have captivated countless spectators, none more so than premier ecologist David S. Wilcove. In No Way Home, his awe is palpable—as are the growing threats to migratory animals.

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No Way Home: The Decline of the World's Great Animal Migrations

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Overview

Animal migration is a magnificent sight: a mile-long blanket of cranes rising from a Nebraska river and filling the sky; hundreds of thousands of wildebeests marching across the Serengeti; a blaze of orange as millions of monarch butterflies spread their wings to take flight. Nature’s great migrations have captivated countless spectators, none more so than premier ecologist David S. Wilcove. In No Way Home, his awe is palpable—as are the growing threats to migratory animals.

 

We may be witnessing a dying phenomenon among many species. Migration has always been arduous, but today’s travelers face unprecedented dangers. Skyscrapers and cell towers lure birds and bats to untimely deaths, fences and farms block herds of antelope, salmon are caught en route between ocean and river, breeding and wintering grounds are paved over or plowed, and global warming disrupts the synchronized schedules of predators and prey. The result is a dramatic decline in the number of migrants.

 

Wilcove guides us on their treacherous journeys, describing the barriers to migration and exploring what compels animals to keep on trekking. He also brings to life the adventures of scientists who study migrants. Often as bold as their subjects, researchers speed wildly along deserted roads to track birds soaring overhead, explore glaciers in search of frozen locusts, and outfit dragonflies with transmitters weighing less than one one-hundredth of an ounce.

 

Scientific discoveries and advanced technologies are helping us to understand migrations better, but alone, they won’t stop sea turtles and songbirds from going the way of the bison or passenger pigeon. What’s required is the commitment and cooperation of the far-flung countries migrants cross—long before extinction is a threat. As Wilcove writes, “protecting the abundance of migration is key to protecting the glory of migration.” No Way Home offers powerful inspiration to preserve those glorious journeys.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Audubon Magazine

No Way Home offers entrancing accounts of some of the world’s iconic migrants of the sky, land, and sea while underscoring the obstacles they face in their travels."
E.O. Wilson

"In this important and exceptionally well written book, a leading wildlife biologist shows how human activity is not just erasing species and ecosystems but also cutting the ancient natural highways that make possible Earth's greatest wildlife spectacles."

Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

Ecological Restoration - Joy B. Zedler

"No Way Home is a captivating narrative...Wilcove's writing is an effective combination of anecdotes and hard facts...Reading this book will help us all see why a top priority is to protect the remaining migratory species and their ways home. I recommend it highly for students of conservation and restoration, as well as the broader public."
Philadelphia Inquirer - Sandy Bauer

"Startling and imaginative new wildlife book. . .Wilcove writes with a sense of drama, passion and awe for the incredible treks many animals make."
Philadelphia Inquirer
". . .startling and imaginative new wildlife book. . .Wilcove writes with a sense of drama, passion and awe for the incredible treks many animals make."

— Sandy Bauer

Audubon Magazine
"No Way Home offers entrancing accounts of some of the world's iconic migrants of the sky, land, and sea while underscoring the obstacles they face in their travels."
Foreword Magazine
"No Way Home presents numerous examples of migratory species that seem to be heading down the same dead end path as Martha''s brethren, but this is no doom and gloom tome. . . Rather, Wilcove... offers a seamless blend of research and personal experience that presents the history of migration, the problems facing species that migrate, and examples of programs that have had success in reviving declining populations."
BioScience

“With no conscious effort, one emerges with the impression of having become expansively informed about the natural history of migrations, the research that has defined them, and the solutions necessary to conserve them.”

Ecological Restoration
"No Way Home is a captivating narrative...Wilcove''s writing is an effective combination of anecdotes and hard facts...Reading this book will help us all see why a top priority is to protect the remaining migratory species and their ways home. I recommend it highly for students of conservation and restoration, as well as the broader public."

— Joy B. Zedler

David Gessner
In No Way Home, Wilcove lucidly describes the journeys of some familiar migratory superstars: monarch butterflies making their generational round trip between the northern United States and the mountains of Mexico, right whales dodging boats and fishing nets as they navigate the shipping lanes off our Northeast coast, already over-fished salmon blocked by dams, and wildebeests whose wild African territory has become no more than an oversized zoo. The author doesn't overwork the awe aspect of these journeys, perhaps because they speak for themselves…Wilcove, a professor of evolutionary biology and ecology at Princeton, has the science cred, but his book is clearly written for the non-scientist, and the sentences are brisk and no-nonsense. He's not after lyricism; he does well simply to present the facts and stay out of the way.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal

Conservation and biodiversity expert Wilcove (ecology and evolutionary biology, Princeton Univ.) follows his 1999 The Condor's Shadow: The Loss and Recovery of Wildlifewith this highly readable report on the status of the world's great migratory species: songbirds, butterflies, locusts, bison, wildebeest, whales, sea turtles, and salmon. Citing both anecdotal and scientific evidence, he describes what these spectacular migrations were like at their peak, what they have dwindled to today, and what they are likely to become in the future. This historical context is crucial to understanding large-scale migration as a "phenomenon of abundance." Wilcove documents the significant scientific progress made in our understanding of whyanimals undertake migratory journeys and howthey do it, yet he acknowledges that in some respects large-scale migration remains one of nature's most awe-inspiring mysteries. But there is no mystery as to how the unrelenting pressure of human activity-hunting, fishing, logging, fencing, damming, farming, and building-has reduced almost uncountable numbers to remnant populations. Skillfully balancing breadth and depth, Wilcove has written a fascinating and authoritative work for the general reader. Strongly recommended for natural history collections in academic and public libraries.
—Cynthia Knight

Foreword Magazine

"No Way Home presents numerous examples of migratory species that seem to be heading down the same dead end path as Martha's brethren, but this is no doom and gloom tome...Rather, Wilcove...offers a seamless blend of research and personal experience that presents the history of migration, the problems facing species that migrate, and examples of programs that have had success in reviving declining populations."
Philadelphia Inquirer

"Startling and imaginative new wildlife book. . .Wilcove writes with a sense of drama, passion and awe for the incredible treks many animals make."
Ecological Restoration

"No Way Home is a captivating narrative...Wilcove's writing is an effective combination of anecdotes and hard facts...Reading this book will help us all see why a top priority is to protect the remaining migratory species and their ways home. I recommend it highly for students of conservation and restoration, as well as the broader public."
BioScience

"With no conscious effort, one emerges with the impression of having become expansively informed about the natural history of migrations, the research that has defined them, and the solutions necessary to conserve them."
Charleston Post and Courier

"[Wilcove] gives us not only a vivid and colorful description of the journey but inspects the marvel and intricacies of one of nature's phenomena."
The New York Times

"While many conservation biologists have observed the decline of individual migrations, Wilcove's book combines them into an alarming synthesis."
American Scientist

"[David] Wilcove's account is compelling. He paints a colorful picture of migration, supplying readers with many anecdotes about his encounters with various species on the move and the scientists who study them."
Audubon

"No Way Home offers entrancing accounts of some of the world's iconic migrants of the sky, land, and sea while underscoring the obstacles they face in their travels."
Science

"Absorbing and thought provoking, No Way Home deserves to be widely read and used to promote conservation action. It illustrates the importance of science for deepening our appreciation of animal migrations and for guiding our efforts to preserve them."
Conservation

". . .Wilcove's detailed descriptions of migrations of locusts, damselflies, quetzals, pronghorns, and many other species are convincing evidence that these awe-inspiring phenomena are worth saving."
University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University - E. O. Wilson

"In this important and exceptionally well written book, a leading wildlife biologist shows how human activity is not just erasing species and ecosystems but also cutting the ancient natural highways that make possible Earth's greatest wildlife spectacles."
Winter Reading with Naturalist Mark Garland on WAMU-FM

"This is an excellent and very important book. . . Wilcove gently provides a thorough lesson in the dynamics of migration. The prose is lively and filled with meaningful anecdotes; it's a well-crafted narrative that reads effortlessly. . ."
author of The Sibley Guide to Birds - David Sibley

"Animal migration has been inspiring humans for millennia, but the grandest migrations are under increasing threat from human activity. David Wilcove explores the fragile balance between migrating species and the resources they need. The result is not only a fascinating account of these amazing journeys, but also an urgent call to preserve the varied habitats on which migrants depend."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559639859
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David S. Wilcove is the author of The Condor’s Shadow: The Loss and Recovery of Wildlife in America (Freeman, 1999), and numerous scientific and popular articles on wildlife conservation. One of the world’s leading experts on endangered species, he is Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: On the Move 
 
PART I. In the Air
Chapter 1. Empty Skies
Chapter 2. A Mountain of Butterflies and a Cloud of Grasshoppers
 
PART II. On Land
Chapter 3. In Search of Greener Pastures
Chapter 4. Where the Buffalo Roamed
 
PART III. In the Water
Chapter 5. Lost at Sea
Chapter 6. Against the Flow
Conclusion: No Way Home?
 
Notes
Acknowledgements
Index
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 19, 2012

    Yes, check it out and then take action

    Reading this tome made me recall the first time I saw a museum specimen of a Passenger Pigeon at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania. The Passenger Pigeon was a long-distance champion when it comes to migration. But reading the book also made me think of the many many other migratory wildlife species out there -- many of which are in trouble population wise because of human activities like destroying habitat, polluting habitat, etc. I recommend this book. I am a past president of the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology.

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