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The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals
ISBN 1560988452 / 9781560988458 / 1-56098-845-2
List price $75.00
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The United States and Canada are home to more than 400 species of mammals, ranging from the marsupial opossums of the Atlantic seaboard to the beaked whales of British Columbia. Some, like the mountain beaver and the Camas pocket gopher, are intensely local, their ranges confined to small areas; others, such as the white-tailed deer and red squirrel, are broadly distributed in large numbers across the continent.
Volume editors Don Wilson and Sue Ruff enlist some 200 experts to produce this richly illustrated, definitive reference work, the offshoot of a recent initiative by the American Society of Mammalogists. Each species entry includes a distribution map; accounts of behavior, diet, reproduction, habitat, and other aspects of ecology; notes on field identification and demographic status; and, where applicable, a roster of subspecies. The text is organized to emphasize evolutionary relationships among orders and families, and most entries include notes on the evolutionary history of the animal in question. ("The timid nature of the black bear," notes one such entry, "probably stems from its having evolved with such powerful predators as short-faced bears and sabre-toothed cats [both now extinct], and more recently with grizzly/brown bears, gray wolves, and humans.")
Readers from many fields will value this fine--and peerless--book. --Gregory McNamee [via]