A Natural History of the Intermountain West


Its Ecological and Evolutionary Story

A Natural History of the Intermountain West was written to inform people about the wild world around us, with the idea that we all crave a connection to the natural world to ground us and give us a sense of place. It is also a book about change. While species are described throughout the chapters, the text is focused more on the profound processes that have shaped western ecosystems, based on a belief that understanding those processes is more meaningful than a list of names. The ways and the rapidity with which enormous ecosystems replace one another and sometimes even return as climates change are a magnificent testament to the tenacity of life.

The first book of its kind for this region, A Natural History of the Intermountain West takes a fresh look at the natural history of the southern Rockies and the Intermountain Region based on cutting-edge research, interviews with numerous scientists, and the author’s personal experience. Drawing together many disparate fields, the book integrates the evolution of western ecosystems with the geological and climatic history of the region. It is a passionate, humanistic, and scientific treatment of this area’s ecosystems, how they function, and how they came to be through time; it is a wonderful guide for the general public and scientists alike.

A Natural History of the Intermountain West was written to inform people about the wild world around us, with the idea that we all crave a connection to the natural world to ground us and give us a sense of place. It is also a book about change. While species are described throughout the chapters, the text is focused more on the profound processes that have shaped western ecosystems, based on a belief that understanding those processes is more meaningful than a list of names. The ways and the rapidity with which enormous ecosystems replace one another and sometimes even return as climates change are a magnificent testament to the tenacity of life.

The first book of its kind for this region, A Natural History of the Intermountain West takes a fresh look at the natural history of the southern Rockies and the Intermountain Region based on cutting-edge research, interviews with numerous scientists, and the author’s personal experience. Drawing together many disparate fields, the book integrates the evolution of western ecosystems with the geological and climatic history of the region. It is a passionate, humanistic, and scientific treatment of this area’s ecosystems, how they function, and how they came to be through time; it is a wonderful guide for the general public and scientists alike.


Gwendolyn L. Waring is a scientist and artist based in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has a PhD in biology with an emphasis on plant-animal interactions and approaches her research as an evolutionary ecologist.


Table of Contents:
Table of Contents:

List of Figures 
List of Tables 
List of Color Plates 
Preface 
Acknowledgments 
1. How the Rocky West Formed and How It Shapes Western Ecosystems 
Gwendolyn Waring and Wayne Ranney
2. Precious Water in the West 
3. Cool, Dark, Western Mountains 
4. Fast-Moving Ponderosa Pine Forests 
5. The Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands 
6. Western Grasslands 
7. The Spare and Beautiful Cold Desert 
8. A Few of the West’s Gorgeous Flowers 
Appendix I: Some Common Plants and Animals of the Southern Rockies and the Intermountain Region 
Appendix II: English to Metric Conversions 
Glossary 
References 
Index 
 


Praise and Reviews:

"A crucial assembly, an amazing amount of research, easy to read, . . . clean, and insightful. This is the kind of writing I like, when scientists become eloquent, not relying solely on nomenclature but telling stories anyone can understand. For any naturalist in the West, this book will be a cornerstone."
—Craig Childs, author of The Secret Knowledge of Water and Soul of Nowhere


"This well-referenced, highly readable book with color photo inserts provides an excellent overview of a rapidly changing region of the US that is experiencing energy development and a growing population that will impact the natural landscape. A valuable acquisition for Intermountain West regional collections. Highly recommended."—CHOICE
 


"This book demonstrates so keenly and in such an interdisciplinary fashion that the world as we know it (or think we know it) still contains multitudes much beyond our quixotic ken, and that humans are just a relatively small but pernicious part of everything else. Should become required reading across the [biology] curriculum."—The Bloomsbury Review