Review Of "American Bison: A Natural History" By D. F. Lott

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Reading this gem of a monograph is like leaning on a Montana fence rail listening to an old buffalo hand spill a lifetime of knowledge. Lott (emer., Univ. of California, Davis) was born and raised on a bison refuge and spent his long academic career studying this species. Without a single graph or table (but with 32 pages of photographs) he paints a clear picture of the animal--its behavior, physiology, evolution, and interactions with the major features of its ecosystem. Separate chapters are devoted to each animal species that associated with the bison. Every aspect of the study is peppered with personal observations and earthy humor. The aim of the work is to be not just a reference on this keystone species of the prairies but to assess the estimates of its maximum populations (too high by 50 percent) and its future prospects (genetic threats are greater than habitat loss). In the final chapters, Lott makes a convincing case for the establishment of a mammoth Great Plains National Park. The informal presentation will appeal to all readers; graduate-level readers will find Lott thin on data compared with Joel Berger and Carol Cunningham's Bison: Mating and Conservation in Small Populations (CH, Jan'95); both should be consulted. All levels.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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