By Michael A. Mares
For many folks the observe "desert" evokes photographs of barren wilderness, gigantic, dry stretches inimical to existence. yet for an excellent array of creatures, maybe even extra ample than those that inhabit tropical rainforests, the barren region is a haven and a house. trip with Michael Mares into the deserts of Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and the yank Southwest and you may come upon a wealthy and remarkable number of those small, tenacious animals, lots of them first found through Mares in parts by no means earlier than studied. Accompanying Mares on his forays into those adversarial habitats, we detect the outstanding 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 wait for biologists who enterprise into the sector to enquire new habitats, realize new species, and upload to our wisdom of the range of lifestyles. jam-packed with the seductions and trials that such adventures entail, A barren region Calling presents an intimate realizing of the biologist's vocation. As he astonishes us with the variety and diversity of data to be bought during 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 resources for A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape
Taken together, the specimens in a museum are the primary data on the occurrence, habitat selection, and coexistence of most of the world’s mammals. Most small mammals are difﬁcult to identify, especially in the poorly studied parts of the world (and most of the world is poorly studied). One can seldom collect a living small mammal and immediately identify it with certainty. It is only after extensive research has been conducted on scientiﬁc specimens in museums that one can begin to identify the species in the ﬁeld.
Museum study skins of kangaroo rats (Dipodomys) from Mexico in the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman. The tags contain the collector’s name and number, locality, sex, museum catalogue number, date of collection, and various external measurements. The vials contain the cleaned and numbered skulls. (Photo by M. A. ) cleaned in the museum by the larvae of dermestid beetles, which feed on the dried tissue and leave the bones fairly clean. When the “bugs” are done, we rinse each individual bone with water, remove all bits of soft tissue with ﬁne forceps, and dry the bones.
Each year in the spring the ocotillo produces bunches of carmine ﬂowers that attract hummingbirds and insects, ﬂowers that often seem to be balanced on the ends of the dead, spiny branches. ] Sonoran Desert vegetation near Tucson, Arizona, with several saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea). (Photo by M. A. ) In some areas this rich desert supports a forest with trees of mesquite (Prosopis), paloverde, ironwood (Olneya), cottonwood (Populus), acacia (Acacia), and saguaros. Between the large cacti and the trees are legions 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 33 of other cacti, including many species of cholla, the multiple-armed and mightily thorned cacti 3 to 6 feet tall that drop their segments to form new cacti.
A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape by Michael A. Mares