313 pages, 63 b/w half-tone figs, 13 line figs
The first exploration of the lives of small mammals undertaken in decades. Mammalogist Joseph F. Merritt offers an engaging, in-depth discussion about a diverse array of small mammals, from the rare Kitti's hog-nosed bat of Southeast Asia to the bizarre aye-aye of Madagascar to the familiar woodchuck of North America. Small mammals include those mammals weighing under five kilograms (approximately eleven pounds). Merritt introduces the various species that fall under this heading, then follows with chapters that cover such topics as behavior, modes of feeding, locomotion, habitat use, reproduction, and coping with heat loss.
Animals of this size face different physiological and ecological challenges than larger mammals. Merritt describes in rich detail how mammals across the globe have adapted to compensate for their small stature, showing how they contribute to and survive in diverse environments in many fascinating ways. For example, arctic foxes, weighing just 3 to 4.3 kilograms, are champion survivors in the cold. They cope with their harsh environs by decreasing activity, seeking shelter in temporary dens and snow burrows, growing a lush winter fur, and undergoing complex physiological changes to insulate themselves from chilling temperatures. "The Biology of Small Mammals" provides a valuable and up-to-date reference on nature's more diminutive creatures.
Any college-level natural history library needs this survey. Midwest Book Review 2010 Highly recommended. Choice 2010 Utilizing fossil records and extant small mammals, the author provides an interesting look into their physical make up and way of life. Wildlife Activist 2010 Where Dr. Merritt's book shines and separates itself from other mammalogy books is when he adds the details, examples, and colorful commentary allowing readers to share his passion and enthusiasm for small mammals... Dr. Merritt manages to keep these passages both rigorous and entertaining, the true mark of a fine teacher. -- Robert McCleery Journal of Wildlife Management 2010 Merritt writes with evident enthusiasm for his subject, he is impressively up to date on most topics, and the book is copiously illustrated. -- William Z. Likicker Jr. Bioscience 2011
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Joseph F. Merritt is a senior mammalogist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, holding courtesy academic appointments at the University of Colorado, Indiana State University, and SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He is the coauthor of Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, Ecology, also published by Johns Hopkins.