A popular tourist area, North Carolina's coastal region is the destination of roughly 25 per cent of all North Carolina visitors each year or approximately 12.1 million people. Composed of twenty-eight of the easternmost counties of North Carolina, the Coastal Plain is the largest and most diverse of the state's three biogeographical regions.
Beginning with an overview of early naturalists who marvelled at the region's natural treasures, Eric G. Bolen and James F. Parnell's natural history of the Coastal Plain offers a nature-focused walk through the distinctive geological features and plant and animal communities of the area that extends from the Fall Line (delineated approximately by I-95) to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
This richly illustrated volume presents a journey that begins with the Outer Banks and their beaches, dunes, wild horses, and maritime forests, then moves on to describe the form and functions of the region's extensive salt marshes. The text continues with visits to the mysterious Carolina bays, Lake Waccamaw, dark cypress swamps, the Great Dismal Swamp, and blackwater streams. Along the way, readers will encounter the habitat and concerns for the last remaining wild population of red wolves and the recently established nesting colonies of wood storks. Rivers and sounds, highlighted by seagrasses, bottomland forests, and eel migrations, come next, followed by a tour of uplands, where bogs garnished with carnivorous plants dot wet savannahs; also presented are the Carolina Sandhills with their stately forests of longleaf pine, colourful tree frogs, burrowing snakes, and unique fishes. To conclude, an afterword discusses the motivations for saving endangered species.
Infoboxes scattered throughout the text offer stand-alone explorations of historical and cultural topics associated with North Carolina's Coastal Plain. Subjects such as whaling, waterfowl decoys, the chanteys of menhaden fishermen, fire ecology, and the extinction of Carolina parakeets illustrate the breadth of coverage. For reference, an appendix cites the scientific names of species mentioned in the text, and a list of readings and references appends each chapter.
Eric G. Bolen is a professor emeritus of biology and marine biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He has co-authored several books, including Wildlife Ecology and Management, Ecology of North America, The Natural History of Texas, and Waterfowl Management and Ecology. He is also the author or coauthor of more than two hundred scientific articles. He lives and writes in Wilmington.
James F. Parnell is a professor emeritus of biology and marine biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He is coauthor and primary photographer for several books, including Birds of the Carolinas, Mammals of the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland, Freshwater Fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, and Attracting Birds in the Carolinas. He is the lead author or coauthor of more than fifty scientific articles.
"An Abundance of Curiosities is a mesmerizing and entertaining read. Bolen and Parnell deliver an important, richly detailed, and authoritative book. Their knowledge of, and respect and love for, North Carolina's coastal plain shines brightly in this volume."
– Paul E. Hosier, author of Seacoast Plants of the Carolinas
"A very interesting and well researched book. I'm sure it will be a text that is referred to regularly by many for years to come."
– Eric Dorfman, director & CEO of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh
"A remarkable text [...] Boles and Parnell write in prose that's readily accessible to the average reader, making this book ideal for students and amateur nature lovers."
– Ben Steelman, The Star News