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The Mojave Desert has a rich natural history. Despite being sandwiched between the larger Great Basin and Sonoran Deserts, it has enough mountains, valleys, canyons, and playas for any eager explorer. Ancient and current waterways carve the bajadas and valley bottoms. This diverse topography gives rise to a multitude of habitats for plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.
A Natural History of the Mojave Desert explores how a combination of complex geology, varied geography, and changing climate has given rise to intriguing flora and fauna—including almost 3,000 plant species and about 380 terrestrial vertebrate animal species. Of these, one quarter of the plants and one sixth of the animals are endemic.
The authors, who, combined, have spent more than six decades living in and observing the Mojave Desert, offer a scientifically insightful and personally observed understanding of the desert. They invite readers to understand how the Mojave Desert looks, sounds, feels, tastes, and smells. They prompt us to understand how humans have lived in this desert where scant vegetation and water have challenged humans, past and present.
A Natural History of the Mojave Desert provides a lively and informed guide to understanding how life has adapted to the hidden riverbeds, huge salt flats, tiny wetlands, and windswept hills that characterize this iconic desert.
About the Author
Lawrence R. Walker is a professor of plant ecology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the (co)author or (co)editor of nine previous books, including The Biology of Disturbed Habitats. Frederick H. Landau is a research associate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Walker and Landau have twenty-five years of scientific collaboration that includes projects in Nevada, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. They both enjoy hiking and back-road adventures throughout the Mojave Desert.
“The word "desert" is sometimes used to describe an empty area—but Walker and Landau make clear that the Mojave Desert is full of life.”—Landscape Architecture Magazine
“The book is beautiful and could be a coffee table volume, but do not be deceived. The photographs (in color) are striking and instructive; the line artwork and tables are crisp and clean. The writing style, though casual, is inviting. This book could serve as the basis for a specialty course for undergraduates or beginning graduate students unfamiliar with deserts.”—Choice
“Walker and Landau’s book on the Mojave Desert is not merely a lovely addition to the natural history of arid lands of North America; it is also a breakthrough of sorts, given that it is more comprehensive and integrative than any single work we now have for the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, or Great Basin Deserts. You’ll wish you were along hiking, camping, and nature-watching with these well-trod desert rats. This soon-to-be classic is a delight.”—Gary Paul Nabhan
“A grand introduction to North America’s smallest desert, suitable for newbies and desert rats alike. I’ll take it with me on every Mojave Desert trip in the future.”—Janice Emily Bowers