9780674007475

A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780674007475

  • ISBN10:

    0674007476

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-05-01
  • Publisher: HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
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Summary

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.

Author Biography

Michael A. Mares is Curator of Mammals and Director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Stephen Jay Gould
Prologue 1(4)
The Search for Undiscovered Life
5(6)
The Immortal Animals
11(11)
Elfin Farmers and Cactophylic Carpenters
22(22)
Darkness and the Cave of the Jaguar
44(10)
The Winding Path to Field Biology
54(16)
The Desert at the Bottom of the World
70(21)
Different Actors, Different Scripts
91(37)
Desert in the Sky
128(8)
The Vampire and the Phantoms of All Hallows' Eve
136(6)
Land of the Shah
142(15)
Impenetrable Land of Thorns
157(30)
The Devil's Town
187(18)
In the Shadow of the Pyramids
205(16)
Naming the Anonymous
221(17)
From Howling Wolf Mice to Fairy Armadillos
238(8)
Aridity's Cornucopia
246(6)
Life in the Desert of Salt
252(19)
Land of Diamonds
271(5)
Epilogue 276(11)
Appendix. Scientific and Common Names of Species Mentioned in the Text, by Region and Major Category 287(6)
Selected Readings 293(14)
Acknowledgments 307(4)
Index 311

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