By Michael A. Mares
For many people the observe "desert" evokes photos of barren desolate tract, large, dry stretches inimical to existence. yet for a superb array of creatures, maybe even extra ample than those that inhabit tropical rainforests, the wilderness is a haven and a house. go back and forth with Michael Mares into the deserts of Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and the yankee Southwest and you may come across a wealthy and noteworthy number of those small, tenacious animals, lots of them first chanced on by way of Mares in parts by no means earlier than studied. Accompanying Mares on his forays into those adversarial habitats, we become aware of the notable behavioral, physiological, and ecological diversifications that experience allowed such little-known species of rodents, bats, and different small mammals to persist in an arid international. whilst, we see firsthand the perils and pitfalls that watch for biologists who enterprise into the sector to enquire new habitats, detect new species, and upload to our wisdom of the variety of existence. full of the seductions and trials that such adventures entail, A wasteland Calling gives an intimate knowing of the biologist's vocation. As he astonishes us with the variety and diversity of data to be got in the course of the decided 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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Extra info for A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape
Each of North America’s deserts supports from one to three species of ground squirrels, which are placed in two different genera (Ammospermophilus and Spermophilus). S. deserts. The white-tailed antelope ground squirrel of the Mojave is one of the most desert-adapted squirrels in the United States. It is about 6 inches long and weighs about 4 ounces. Its common name derives from its habit of holding its rather bushy tail, which is white below, laid forward on its back as it runs, giving it the appearance of the white rump patch of a pronghorn.
A. ) The woodrat carries the cactus segments from the cactus patch to its home, which is constructed of sticks, twigs, and pieces of cholla. The animals also scatter cacti around the nest as additional protection from intrud- 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 35 ers. The more cholla that grows in an area, the more woodrats the area supports. Woodrat homes constructed of cactus are almost impenetrable to larger animals. But the stick nests offer refuge to many species, including vertebrates, such as the zebra-tailed lizard, tree frogs, voles, skunks, rabbits, the insectivorous desert shrew (the smallest desert mammal, at one-seventh of an ounce, an insect-sized mammal), and a wide variety of invertebrates, including spiders and scorpions.
Many squirrels in the genus Spermophilus are able to hibernate during the winter or estivate during the summer. These periods of reduced metabolic rate while the animals sleep in their burrows reduce the need for water and nutrients during parts of the year. The antelope ground squirrel, however, cannot hibernate, at least in the Mojave Desert. These squirrels are active all year and must ﬁnd food in the sparse desert during all seasons if they are to survive until the next period of abundance when rains once again come to the arid desert mesas and valleys they inhabit.
A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape by Michael A. Mares