By Michael A. Mares
For many people the notice "desert" evokes pictures of barren desert, sizeable, dry stretches inimical to existence. yet for a very good array of creatures, even perhaps extra abundant than those that inhabit tropical rainforests, the wilderness is a haven and a house. shuttle 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, a lot of them first stumbled on by way of Mares in parts by no means ahead of studied. Accompanying Mares on his forays into those antagonistic habitats, we notice the striking behavioral, physiological, and ecological diversifications that experience allowed such little-known species of rodents, bats, and different small mammals to persist in an arid global. whilst, we see firsthand the perils and pitfalls that wait for biologists who enterprise into the sphere to enquire new habitats, realize new species, and upload to our wisdom of the range of lifestyles. packed with the seductions and trials that such adventures entail, A wasteland Calling provides an intimate figuring out of the biologist's vocation. As he astonishes us with the diversity and diversity of information to be bought in the course of the decided research of little-known habitats, Mares opens a window on his personal unusual lifestyles, in addition to at the unusual lifetime of the distant and mysterious corners of our planet. (20020401)
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Extra info for A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape
They frequently take shelter in their cool burrows or in the shade of a tree or shrub, dissipating the heat stored in their bodies by radiating it away to the cooler microclimate, and and they do not lose any water in the process because rodents do not sweat. The food of ground squirrels consists of both plant and animal matter, in- 40 E L F I N FA R M E R S A N D C A C T O P H Y L I C C A R P E N T E R S cluding seeds, leaves, invertebrates, and even vertebrates. The squirrels must search over rather large areas for their food and may range over 15 acres of sparse desert habitat as they forage.
In the South American and Australian deserts some marsupials feed on rodents or their young. Only in North America is there a small rodent that roams the desert on the darkest nights seeking other rodents as prey, and only in North America does that small predator rear up on its hind legs and howl like a wolf. The fauna of small mammals of the North American deserts may include more than a dozen species in any particular patch of habitat, but across the expanse of arid habitats of North America mammals occur in repeatable subsets of species.
Some ﬁeld biologists might like to think that they can identify them using photographs, but it does not work that way. In some cases, one is still uncertain about whether particular species are placed in the proper genus (the T H E I M M O R TA L A N I M A L S 13 next higher taxonomic category above species) or are even in the proper family (the next major category above genus). Nor are such questions limited to small mammals. It has long been thought that there are only two species of elephants: the Asian and the African.
A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape by Michael A. Mares