Why do quaking aspens grow in prominent clumps rather than randomly scattered across the landscape? Why and how does a rufous hummingbird drop its metabolism to one-hundredth of its normal rate? Why do bull elk grow those enormous antlers?
Using his experience as a biologist and ecologist, George Constantz illuminates these and other remarkable slices of mountain life in plain and engaging language. His provocative accounts of birds, insects, rodents, predators, trees, and flowers are sure to stir the reader's curiosity. Who wouldn't be intrigued by a rattlesnake's ability to hunt in total darkness by detecting the infrared radiation emitted by a mouse? Or the adaptations of white-tailed ptarmigan that allow them to thrive in their high, treeless alpine environments – even through the winter? The narratives, often brought home with a counterintuitive twist, invite readers to make new connections and broaden perspectives of a spectacular outdoor place.
"Guidebooks and those on the nature of native plants and animals often have one persuasion: to contribute as a reference / fact source. This book goes much beyond that. The general reader will find that its strength, beyond fascinating reading, will be the "why" things are the way they are. A well-rounded introduction to the Rockies."
– James Platz, Department of Biology, Creighton University
"I know of no other book quite like this one. I think anyone involved with teaching others about ecology and natural history in the Rockies would like Constantz's book as a reference."
– Dennis Knight, Professor Emeritus, Department of Botany, University of Wyoming
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George Constantz is an independent ecologist with special interest in fishes, streams, and watersheds. He has invested over twenty years working with grassroots watershed organizations to develop their scientific and organizational capacities. He has taught biology and ecology at both the high school and university levels. His first book, Hollows, Peepers, and Highlanders: An Appalachian Mountain Ecology, is now in its second edition.