For generations, the deserts of southern Africa have intrigued scientists and travellers alike. Seemingly barren wastes, they in fact teem with life – from ants to elephants, stone plants to the curious welwitschia, dainty dik-diks to towering gemsbok, and cart-wheeling spiders to fog-basking beetles. How do they cope with scarce resources, unpredictable rainfall and extreme temperatures? How do they protect themselves against predators? And what is the impact of global heating on these creatures and their habitats?
Based on an earlier edition published in 1993, biologist Barry Lovegrove answers these questions and unravels many of the mysteries associated with life in the desert. He describes four arid biomes of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana: Desert, Arid Savanna, Succulent Karoo and Nama-Karoo, and explains how and why such a great diversity of plants, insects, mammals, reptiles and birds successfully survive here. The text is supported by the most recent research, spectacular photographs, and explanatory diagrams and maps.
The Living Deserts of Southern Africa is a compelling, in-depth read that is accessible to both the serious student and academic as well as the interested nature lover.
Barry Lovegrove is professor emeritus at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is an evolutionary physiologist, specialising in the diversity of metabolic adaptations in birds and mammals. He obtained his PhD from the University of Cape Town in 1987, undertook post-doctoral studies at universities in both America and Germany, and is a National Research Foundation A-rated scientist. He is also the author of Fires of Life: Endothermy in Birds and Mammals (Yale University Press). In 2017 he gave the prestigious Irving-Scholander Memorial Lecture in Fairbanks, Alaska.