For most of us the word "desert" conjures up images of barren wasteland, vast, dry stretches inimical to life. But for a great array of creatures, perhaps even more plentiful than those who inhabit tropical rainforests, the desert is a haven and a home. Travel with Michael Mares into the deserts of Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and the American Southwest and you will encounter a rich and memorable variety of these small, tenacious animals, many of them first discovered by Mares in areas never before studied. Accompanying Mares on his forays into these hostile habitats, we observe the remarkable behavioral, physiological, and ecological adaptations that have allowed such little-known species of rodents, bats, and other small mammals to persist in an arid world. At the same time, we see firsthand the perils and pitfalls that await biologists who venture into the field to investigate new habitats, discover new species, and add to our knowledge of the diversity of life.
Filled with the seductions and trials that such adventures entail, A Desert Calling affords an intimate understanding of the biologist's vocation. As he astonishes us with the range and variety of knowledge to be acquired through the determined investigation of little-known habitats, Mares opens a window on his own uncommon life, as well as on the uncommon life of the remote and mysterious corners of our planet.
Michael A. Mares is Curator of Mammals and Director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma.
Stephen Jay Gould was Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and Vincent Astor Visiting Professor of Biology at New York University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow, he received innumerable honors and awards and wrote many books, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny and Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle (both from Harvard).
Table of Contents
Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould
1. The Search for Undiscovered Life
2. The Immortal Animals
3. Elfin Farmers and Cactophylic Carpenters
4. Darkness and the Cave of the Jaguar
5. The Winding Path to Field Biology
6. The Desert at the Bottom of the World
7. Different Actors, Different Scripts
8. Desert in the Sky
9. The Vampire and the Phantoms of All Hallows’ Eve
10. Land of the Shah
11. Impenetrable Land of Thorns
12. The Devil’s Town
13. In the Shadow of the Pyramids
14. Naming the Anonymous
15. From Howling Wolf Mice to Fairy Armadillos
16. Aridity’s Cornucopia
17. Life in the Desert of Salt
18. Land of Diamonds
Appendix: Scientific and Common Names of Species Mentioned in the Text, by Region and Major Category
A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape 2 out of 5based on
circlesreads on LibraryThing
More than 1 year ago
The chapters of this book do not flow well. There are some that read like a fast-paced novel and others that were so tiresome I wanted to pull my hair out. At times Mares is repetitive; the editor did not do his/her job well. With that said, the chapters describing Mares¿ fieldwork are so engaging that it makes up for the tediousness of the other chapters. Toward the end of book I found myself in the midst of a few slow-moving portions, and I considered not finishing the book, but I¿m glad I did because the last three chapters were fantastic. In all, I¿m glad I read this book, but wish I had skimmed over certain parts. I certainly learned more about desert rodents than I ever thought possible.
More than 1 year ago
The text, unfortunately, is almost as dry as the deserts the author describes. There are multiple pictures of vistas and interesting animals, but if you purchase the Nook edition, you won't get a single one.
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