Choosing from the nearly 600 terrestrial vertebrates found on the Great Plains, Johnsgard focuses on the ecology, behaviour, and life histories of 121 notable species that people are most likely to encounter when traveling in the region. He has selected characteristic breeding birds, typical mammals, and conspicuous amphibians and reptiles - as well as additional species of conservation importance, animals of charismatic interest, and selected transients. The book is organized around ten distinct biotic communities, from the different varieties of native prairies to woodlands and wetlands, so that human visitors to those habitats can be on the watch for wildlife most often encountered there. More than seventy maps and illustrations enhance his text.
Paul A. Johnsgard is Foundation Professor of Biology at the University of Nebraska. Among his more than forty published books are such encyclopedic works as Hummingbirds of North America and regional guides including Prairie Birds: Fragile Splendor in the Great Plains (see page 40) and This Fragile Land: A Natural History of the Nebraska Sandhills.
Johnsgard writes of the birds, mammals, and herptiles of the Great Plains with authority, affection, and concern for their welfare. The writing is elegant and evocative and, together with his drawings, conveys the diversity of wildlife in the region with a wonderful vividness. David Wishart, Editor Of The Forthcoming Encyclopedia Of The Great Plains; "Johnsgard's wildlife vignettes highlight the beauty, complexity, and drama of animal behavior in the Great Plains, and his awe and reverence for the region's subtle grandeur are evident in every chapter.... Must reading for students of grassland ecology and for anyone who desires to understand the natural heritage of the plains." Craig C. Freeman, Coauthor Of Roadside Wildflowers Of The Southern Great Plains