Natural History
Featured Items
City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness
City Creatures
Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness
Hardcover      ISBN: 022619289x

We usually think of cities as the domain of humans--but we are just one of thousands of species that call the urban landscape home. Chicago residents knowingly move among familiar creatures like squirrels, pigeons, and dogs, but might be surprised to learn about all the leafhoppers and water bears, black-crowned night herons and bison, beavers and massasauga rattlesnakes that are living alongside them. City Creatures introduces readers to an astonishing diversity of urban wildlife with a unique and accessible mix of essays, poetry, paintings, and photographs.
The contributors bring a story-based approach to this urban safari, taking readers on birding expeditions to the Magic Hedge at Montrose Harbor on the North Side, canoe trips down the South Fork of the Chicago River (better known as Bubbly Creek), and insect-collecting forays or restoration work days in the suburban forest preserves.

The book is organized into six sections, each highlighting one type of place in which people might encounter animals in the city and suburbs. For example, schoolyard chickens and warrior wasps populate "Backyard Diversity," live giraffes loom at the zoo and taxidermy-in-progress pheasants fascinate museum-goers in "Animals on Display," and a chorus of deep-freeze frogs awaits in "Water Worlds." Although the book is rooted in Chicago's landscape, nature lovers from cities around the globe will find a wealth of urban animal encounters that will open their senses to a new world that has been there all along. Its powerful combination of insightful narratives, numinous poetry, and full-color art throughout will help readers see the city--and the creatures who share it with us--in an entirely new light.
The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move
The Next Great Migration
The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move
Hardcover      ISBN: 1635571979

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
A Library Journal Best Science & Technology Book of 2020
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2020
2020 Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist in Science & Technology

A prize-winning journalist upends our centuries-long assumptions about migration through science, history, and reporting--predicting its lifesaving power in the face of climate change.

The news today is full of stories of dislocated people on the move. Wild species, too, are escaping warming seas and desiccated lands, creeping, swimming, and flying in a mass exodus from their past habitats. News media presents this scrambling of the planet's migration patterns as unprecedented, provoking fears of the spread of disease and conflict and waves of anxiety across the Western world. On both sides of the Atlantic, experts issue alarmed predictions of millions of invading aliens, unstoppable as an advancing tsunami, and countries respond by electing anti-immigration leaders who slam closed borders that were historically porous.

But the science and history of migration in animals, plants, and humans tell a different story. Far from being a disruptive behavior to be quelled at any cost, migration is an ancient and lifesaving response to environmental change, a biological imperative as necessary as breathing. Climate changes triggered the first human migrations out of Africa. Falling sea levels allowed our passage across the Bering Sea. Unhampered by barbed wire, migration allowed our ancestors to people the planet, catapulting us into the highest reaches of the Himalayan mountains and the most remote islands of the Pacific, creating and disseminating the biological, cultural, and social diversity that ecosystems and societies depend upon. In other words, migration is not the crisis--it is the solution.

Conclusively tracking the history of misinformation from the 18th century through today's anti-immigration policies, The Next Great Migration makes the case for a future in which migration is not a source of fear, but of hope.
The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest
The Collector
David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest
Hardcover      ISBN: 1570616132

Jack Nisbet first told the story of British explorer David Thompson, who mapped the Columbia River, in his acclaimed Sources of the River. That book set the standard for research and narrative biography for the region. Now Nisbet turns his attention to David Douglas, the premier botanical explorer in the Pacific Northwest and other areas of western North America. Douglas' discoveries include hundreds of western plants -- most notably the Douglas Fir.
The Collector tracks Douglas' fascinating history, from his humble birth in Scotland in 1799 to his botanical training under the famed William Jackson Hooker to his adventures in North America discovering exotic new plants for the English and European market. The book takes readers along on Douglas' journeys into a literal brave new world of then-obscure realms from Puget Sound to the Sandwich Islands. In telling Douglas' story, Nisbet evokes a lost world of early exploration, pristine nature, ambition, and cultural and class conflict with surprisingly modern resonances.

Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live
Never Home Alone
From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live
Paperback      ISBN: 1541618300

Discover the "fascinating" and surprising science of the creepers, crawlers, wrigglers, and runners that live in our homes (The Washington Post) -- and learn why they're essential to our everyday lives.
However domesticated our houses appear, they are wild beyond imagination. Look down in the basement, up in the attic, under the floorboards, and even in the showerhead, and you'll find life everywhere. Biologist Rob Dunn and his team have done it in homes worldwide, and they found nearly 200,000 species
In Never Home Alone, Dunn introduces us to these tiny tenants and shows us how -- in almost every case -- they make our lives better, and explains why trying to eradicate the bad ones just makes our lives worse. No one who reads this engrossing, revelatory, and just plain fun book will look at their home, or the life in it, in the same way again.
A New York Times Book Review's "Editor's Choice"
"Excellent." -- Wall Street Journal
"You'll love Never Home Alone." -- Bustle

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
The Sixth Extinction
An Unnatural History
Hardcover      ISBN: 0805092994

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST

A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.

In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino.

Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History
Coyote America
A Natural and Supernatural History
Paperback      ISBN: 0465093728
The New York Times best-selling account of how coyotes--long the target of an extermination policy--spread to every corner of the United States
Finalist for the
PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
"A masterly synthesis of scientific research and personal observation."-Wall Street Journal
Legends don't come close to capturing the incredible story of the coyote In the face of centuries of campaigns of annihilation employing gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn't just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Alaska to New York. In the war between humans and coyotes, coyotes have won, hands-down. Coyote America is the illuminating five-million-year biography of this extraordinary animal, from its origins to its apotheosis. It is one of the great epics of our time.
Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World
Rivers of Power
How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World
Hardcover      ISBN: 0316412007
An "eye-opening, sometimes alarming, and ultimately inspiring" natural history of rivers and their complex and ancient relationship with human civilization (Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction).

Rivers, more than any road, technology, or political leader, have shaped the course of human civilization. They have opened frontiers, founded cities, settled borders, and fed billions. They promote life, forge peace, grant power, and can capriciously destroy everything in their path. Even today, rivers remain a powerful global force -- one that is more critical than ever to our future.

In Rivers of Power, geographer Laurence C. Smith explores the timeless yet underappreciated relationship between rivers and civilization as we know it. Rivers are of course important in many practical ways (water supply, transportation, sanitation, etc). But the full breadth of their influence on the way we live is less obvious. Rivers define and transcend international borders, forcing cooperation between nations. Huge volumes of river water are used to produce energy, raw commodities, and food. Wars, politics, and demography are transformed by their devastating floods. The territorial claims of nations, their cultural and economic ties to each other, and the migrations and histories of their peoples trace back to rivers, river valleys, and the topographic divides they carve upon the world. And as climate change, technology, and cities transform our relationship with nature, new opportunities are arising to protect the waters that sustain us.

Beautifully told and expansive in scope, Rivers of Power reveals how and why rivers have so profoundly influenced our civilization and examines the importance this vast, arterial power holds for the future of humanity.

"
As fascinating as it is beautifully written."---Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, and Upheaval
Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
Full House
The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
Paperback      ISBN: 0609801406

Few would question the truism that humankind is the crowning achievement of evolution; that the defining thrust of life's history yields progress over time from the primitive and simple to the more advanced and complex; that the disappearance of .400 hitting in baseball is a fact to be bemoaned; or that identifying an existing trend can be helpful in making important life decisions. Few, that is, except Stephen Jay Gould who, in his new book Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin, proves that all of these intuitive truths are, in fact, wrong.
"All of these mistaken beliefs arise out of the same analytical flaw in our reasoning, our Platonic tendency to reduce a broad spectrum to a single, pinpointed essence," says Gould. "This way of thinking allows us to confirm our most ingrained biases that humans are the supreme being on this planet; that all things are inherently driven to become more complex; and that almost any subject can be expressed and understood in terms of an average."
In Full House, Gould shows why a more accurate way of understanding our world (and the history of life) is to look at a given subject within its own context, to see it as a part of a spectrum of variation rather than as an isolated "thing" and then to reconceptualize trends as expansion or contraction of this "full house" of variation, and not as the progress or degeneration of an average value, or single thing. When approached in such a way, the disappearance of .400 hitting becomes a cause for celebration, signaling not a decline in greatness but instead an improvement in the overall level of play in baseball; trends become subject to suspicion, and too often, only a tool of those seeking to advance a particular agenda; and the "Age of Man" (a claim rooted in hubris, not in fact) more accurately becomes the "Age of Bacteria."
"The traditional mode of thinking has led us to draw many conclusions that don't make satisfying sense," says Gould. "It tells us that .400 hitting has disappeared because batters have gotten worse, but how can that be true when record performances have improved in almost any athletic activity?" In a personal eureka , Gould realized that we were looking at the picture backward, and that a simple conceptual inversion would resolve a number of the paradoxes of the conventional view.
While Full House deftly reveals the shortcomings of the popular reasoning we apply to everyday life situations, Gould also explores his beloved realm of natural history as well. Whether debunking the myth of the successful evolution of the horse (he grants that the story still deserves distinction, but as the icon of evolutionary failure); presenting evidence that the vaunted "progress of life" is really random motion away from simple beginnings, not directed impetus toward complexity; or relegating the kingdoms of Animalai and Plantae to their proper positions on the genealogical chart for all of life (as mere twigs on one of the three bushes), Full House asks nothing less than that we reconceptualize our view of life in a fundamental way.

"From the Hardcover edition."

Waterfowl in Winter
Waterfowl in Winter
Paperback      ISBN: 0816615713

Waterfowl in Winter was first published in 1988. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The emphasis in research on waterfowl has traditionally focused on breeding as opposed to migrant or wintering birds. Scientists have long been interested in courtship, nest sites, laying, and brood-rearing, and they have also been concerned about losses of eggs, young, nesting hens, and breeding habitats, especially as they have affected the goal of increasing populations. But lately there has been an upsurge of interest and research on the migratory and wintering phases, and this volume offers ample evidence of the knowledge gained.

The authors--105 waterfowl biologists--have contributed 47 chapters that range geographically from Alaska to northern South America, and from the Pacific Northwest to Nova Scotia and Florida. Their subjects include: distributional changes due to human influence; population trends and concerns over less common species; pairing and other behavior that occurs in the wintering areas and is vital to the success of the species; feeding ecology and body condition during winter; new habitats created by such activities as aquaculture and park development; losses of habitat due to development and drainage for alternate uses; lead poisoning and pollutants that are detrimental to waterfowl; habitat management for maintenance of successful populations now and in the future. Also presented are reports of workshop discussions outlining current issues and future research needs. Preparation of this volume was assisted by an editorial board comprising Bruce J. J. Batt, Robert H. Chabreck, Leigh H. Fredrickson, and Dennis G. Raveling.
What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World
What the Dog Knows
Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World
Paperback      ISBN: 1451667329

A firsthand exploration of the extraordinary abilities and surprising, sometimes life-saving talents of "working dogs"--pups who can sniff out drugs, find explosives, even locate the dead--as told through the experiences of a journalist and her intrepid canine companion, which The New York Times calls "a fascinating, deeply reported journey into the...amazing things dogs can do with their noses."

There are thousands of working dogs all over the US and beyond with incredible abilities--they can find missing people, detect drugs and bombs, pinpoint unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers, or even find drowning victims more than two hundred feet below the surface of a lake. These abilities may seem magical or mysterious, but author Cat Warren shows the science, the rigorous training, and the skilled handling that underlie these creatures' amazing abilities.

Cat Warren is a university professor and journalist who had tried everything she could think of to harness her dog Solo's boundless energy and enthusiasm...until a behavior coach suggested she try training him to be a "working dog." What started out as a hobby soon became a calling, as Warren was introduced to the hidden universe of dogs who do this essential work and the handlers who train them.

Her dog Solo has a fine nose and knows how to use it, but he's only one of many astounding dogs in a varied field. Warren interviews cognitive psychologists, historians, medical examiners, epidemiologists, and forensic anthropologists, as well as the breeders, trainers, and handlers who work with and rely on these intelligent and adaptable animals daily. Along the way, Warren discovers story after story that prove the capabilities--as well as the very real limits--of working dogs and their human partners. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, Warren explains why our partnership with working dogs is woven into the fabric of society, and why we keep finding new uses for the wonderful noses of our four-legged friends.