Southern Wonder

Southern Wonder

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Southern Wonder explores Alabamaa€™s amazing biological diversity, the reasons for the large number of species in the state, and the importance of their preservation. Alabama ranks fifth in the nation in number of species of plants and animals found in the state, surpassed only by the much larger western states of California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. When all the species of birds, trees, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, wildflowers, dragonflies, tiger beetles, and ants are tallied, Alabama harbors more species than 90 percent of the other states in the United States. Alabamais particularly rich in aquatic biodiversity, leading the nation in species of freshwater fishes, turtles, mussels, crayfish, snails, damselflies, and carnivorous plants. The state also hosts an exceptional number of endemic speciesa€”those not found beyond its bordersa€”ranking seventh in the nation with 144 species. The statea€™s 4, 533 species, with more being inventoried and discovered each year, are supported by no less than 64 distinct ecological systemsa€”each a unique blend of soil, water, sunlight, heat, and natural disturbance regimes. Habitats include dry forests, moist forests, swamp forests, sunny prairies, grassy barrens, scorching glades, rolling dunes, and bogs filled with pitcher plants and sundews. The state also includes a region of subterranean ecosystems that are more elaborate and species rich than any other place on the continent. Although Alabama is teeming with life, the statea€™s prominence as a refuge for plants and animals is poorly appreciated. Even among Alabamaa€™s citizens, few outside a small circle of biologists, advocates, and other naturalists understand the special quality of the statea€™s natural heritage. R. Scot Duncan rectifies this situation in Southern Wonder by providing a well-written, comprehensive overview that the general public, policy makers, and teachers can understand and use. Readers are taken on an exploratory journey of the statea€™s varied landscapesa€”from the Tennessee River Valley to the coastal dunesa€”and are introduced to remarkable species, such as the cave salamander and the beach mouse. By interweaving the disciplines of ecology, evolution, meteorology, and geology into an accessible whole, Duncan explains clearly why Alabama is so biotically rich and champions efforts for its careful preservation. Published in Cooperation with The Nature ConservancyPaleoindian spear points similar to those collected in Alabama. types illustrated: Agate Basin (left) and Clovis (center and ... Courtesy ofJun eber- sole/McWane Science Center. transition appears at different times across the continent andanbsp;...

Title:Southern Wonder
Author: R. Scot Duncan
Publisher:University of Alabama Press - 2013-11-19

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