By Michael A. Mares
For many people the be aware "desert" evokes pictures of barren desert, great, dry stretches inimical to existence. yet for an exceptional array of creatures, maybe even extra abundant than those that inhabit tropical rainforests, the wilderness is a haven and a house. trip with Michael Mares into the deserts of Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and the yankee Southwest and you'll stumble upon a wealthy and noteworthy number of those small, tenacious animals, lots of them first stumbled on through Mares in components by no means prior to studied. Accompanying Mares on his forays into those antagonistic habitats, we discover the impressive behavioral, physiological, and ecological variations that experience allowed such little-known species of rodents, bats, and different small mammals to persist in an arid global. while, we see firsthand the perils and pitfalls that look ahead to biologists who enterprise into the sphere to enquire new habitats, notice new species, and upload to our wisdom of the variety of lifestyles. packed with the seductions and trials that such adventures entail, A barren region Calling offers an intimate figuring out of the biologist's vocation. As he astonishes us with the variety and diversity of information to be obtained during the made up our minds research of little-known habitats, Mares opens a window on his personal unusual existence, in addition to at the unusual lifetime of the distant and mysterious corners of our planet. (20020401)
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Additional info for A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape
Cholla is such a dominant plant in the Sonoran Desert that several species of animals have found a way to use it as an important resource. One of these is a rodent called the white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula), an animal that not only feeds on cholla, but is a master carpenter that uses the spiny cactus as a building material to provide protection from predators. This woodrat (also called a packrat) weighs about 200 grams (or 7 ounces) and eats cactus. Cactus might seem like a good plant to eat if you can get past the spines, since the succulent branches contain both water and nutrients.
The animals that I and other mammalogists study often are extremely rare. Sometimes the only specimens that have ever existed in a museum for a particular species are the ones we collect. When we go to the great trouble to capture, euthanize, and prepare an animal, we want it to be as valuable as possible to as many investigators as possible. Scientists from throughout the world will use the materials that we prepare in all manner of research, from medicine to conservation. A part of our research involves sacriﬁcing a few animals, just as the laboratory scientist sacriﬁces mice used in medical research.
It is my ﬁrm conviction that every foot, almost every square inch, of earth is hunted over each night by these harvesters. Edmund Jaeger, Desert Wildlife, 1961 T he abundant and fascinating life in North America’s well-studied deserts ﬁrst attracted me to work in arid habitats, but by working in other deserts I came to feel a special appreciation for the diversity and the wonder of desert life. During my research on other continents I learned how the evolutionary story unfolds when whole assemblages of mammals develop in areas having similar climates, but different topographies, ﬂoras, and geological and faunal histories.