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This new addition to a popular series delves into a fascinating field of New Zealand's natural history. In prehistory, only a few bats, marine mammals and odd quadrupeds constituted the local land-breeding mammals; but today these have been joined by a throng of colonisers.
These include several carnivores, rodents, and various hoofed mammals from Europe and North America, as well as several marsupials from Australia. Many are unwelcome: some have decimated native birds and reptiles, while others attack the bush; but all are now there to stay and are worthy of study for their interesting habits and ecological impact. In addition to these land mammals are more than two dozen native species of marine mammal, including dolphins and whales. This account from one of New Zealand's premier mammalogists fills a gap in the market.
English-born Carolyn King (known to friends as Kim) came to New Zealand in 1971, taking a post with DSIR Ecology Division as a scientist specialising on introduced carnivores. Her two best-known books, The Natural History of Weasels and Stoats (1989) and The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals (1990), both recently went into second editions with Oxford University Press. In 1983 she was appointed Scientific Editor to the Royal Society of New Zealand, and edited The Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand until 2001 and The New Zealand Journal of Zoology from 1991 to now. In 1995 she joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Waikato University, where she is now a senior lecturer. Kim lives in a country house outside Hamilton with her husband, Ken Ayers. Rod Morris is one of New Zealand's most highly respected natural history film-makers and photographers. He has authored or contributed to several books in his field, including New Zealand Nature (New Holland).