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American Bison: A Natural History [Paperback]

Dale F. Lott , Harry W. Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 33.03 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2003 0520240626 978-0520240629
American Bison combines the latest scientific information and one man's personal experience in an homage to one of the most magnificent animals to have roamed America's vast, vanished grasslands. Dale F. Lott, a distinguished behavioral ecologist who was born on the National Bison Range and has studied the buffalo for many years, relates what is known about this iconic animal's life in the wild and its troubled history with humans. Written with unusual grace and verve, American Bison takes us on a journey into the bison's past and shares a compelling vision for its future, offering along the way a valuable introduction to North American prairie ecology.

We become Lott's companions in the field as he acquaints us with the social life and physiology of the bison, sharing stories about its impressive physical prowess and fascinating relationships. Describing the entire grassland community in which the bison live, he writes about the wolves, pronghorn, prairie dogs, grizzly bears, and other animals and plants, detailing the interdependent relationships among these inhabitants of a lost landscape. Lott also traces the long and dramatic relationship between the bison and Native Americans, and gives a surprising look at the history of the hide hunts that delivered the coup de grâce to the already dwindling bison population in a few short years.

This book gives us a peek at the rich and unique ways of life that evolved in the heart of America. Lott also dismantles many of the myths we have created about these ways of life, and about the bison in particular, to reveal the animal itself: ruminating, reproducing, and rutting in its full glory. His portrait of the bison ultimately becomes a plea to conserve its wildness and an eloquent meditation on the importance of the wild in our lives.

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From Library Journal

This rare jewel of a book is the most extensive description of bison natural history ever published. It will be of value to the scholar as a synthesis and state-of-the-art review, but at the same time it is fun, witty, intriguing, often fascinating, and targeted to the educated lay reader. Not only does behavioral ecologist Lott (Intraspecific Variation in the Social Systems of Wild Vertebrates) have the academic chops to write such a book-he is a biology professor emeritus of the University of California, Davis-but he also literally grew up among the buffalo (his father was superintendent of the National Bison Range). Here he details the history of the American bison, bison physiology, conservation efforts past and present, and the relationships buffalo have with other buffalo as well as such grasslands cohorts as wolves, badgers, prairie dogs, coyotes, and grizzlies. While the text has no citation numbers, a notes section at the end directs the scholar to the sources used. Highly recommended for all academic and public libraries.
Lynn C. Badger, Univ. of Florida Lib., Gainesville
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The American bison--known almost universally, if inaccurately, as buffalo--was the dominant species of the Great Plains. These enormous (2,000 pounds for a mature bull) bovines once covered the grasslands of the American West, roughly 30 million strong, until the "pacification" of the Native Americans and the concurrent slaughter of the bison reduced the great herds to mere thousands in the late 1800s. Lott, a retired wildlife professor who has written numerous scientific papers on bison, has produced a wonderful introduction to this most American mammal. Drawing on his research, the studies of other scientists, and some of the historic writings on the species, the author has put together a marvelous state-of-the-art examination of what is known about the bison. Lott writes of bison with immediacy and fondness--he grew up on the National Bison Range in Montana--tempered with a scientist's careful winnowing of the facts and mixed into a narrative form that invites the reader to explore. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT Feb. 13 2004
"American Bison" by Dale F. Lott. The author, Dale Lott, has spent much of his life, if not his entire life, observing and studying the animals commonly called "buffalo". Clearly, this excellent book is a labor of love for him. He deals with all the relationships that the bison (buffalo) have established in order to survive, ranging from microscopic bacteria up to the greatest predator, Man. Chapters are devoted to obvious relationships such as Chapter 1, "Bull to Bull and Cow to Bull", interesting in how important the sex drive is, but also how important survival is. Some unseen relationships are described in Chapter 5, "Digestion: Grass to Gas and Chips" ... who would have thought? The buffalo (bison) once roamed this North American continent in the millions, and Professor Lott (Emeritus, U. Cal., Davis), spends an entire chapter (Chapter 8) on how many buffalo there once were. He makes a stand for 30 million or so, which is about half the 60 million bison usually accepted.
Throughout the book, Prof. Lott sprinkles interesting comments which grab your attention. He defines the bison as "Living according to a 'fat economy'", which means, as with bears, the bison must accumulate enough food reserves in the Spring and Summer to last them through the cruel Winter. He calls this, "making fat while the sun shines." In the chapter on "Digestion", he describes the necessity of bacteria in the many stomachs of bison for the breaking down of the grasses which they eat. Then, out of the clear blue, he brings in the analogy, "It's a sobering fact that 12 or 13 percent of a bottle of ...Champagne is bacteria pee." (Page 49) These little gems are scattered throughout an otherwise serious book that tells you more than you could imagine about the American Bison. Read the book because of the subject, but then, read the book just to see how many common sayings the author has twisted to fit the subject!
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5.0 out of 5 stars LIFE...THE BUFFALO WAY Jan. 28 2004
By A Customer
Is the story of bulls and of cows.
He conjures up the woolly herd
Complete with the whys and the wows!
It's not just the story of beasts of the west,
The favorite Indian quarry.
But tells of the Bison's doings and habits
In a way that becomes quite the story.
You'll learn about breeding the bison way,
How the bulls have their way with their gals.
How they spar with each other, with bluffs and with feints,
And if they're not killed remain pals.
It's the story of how this species became
The symbol of The Frontier and The West,
And tells why the woollies have lasted 'til now
Despite, as fools, doing our best,
To make them only a memory
In the minds of our daughters and sons.
Thank goodness they're still around today
Most tipping the scales in the tons.
You'll learn of bison physiology,
Of this creature's majestic physique.
You'll read of the grasslands, and others who live
In a place filled with awe and mystique.
Prairie dogs, wolves and grizzly bears
And pronghorns all live on the plains.
The book tells of their relationships,
How their struggle for balance remains.
Lott makes his case that Buff remain wild,
Rutting and grazing as in days long ago.
I have to concede that his logic makes sense,
While others would argue not so.
So it's really the story of the modern Buff
And just how they're doing today.
Read this book and you will learn
About life, The Buffalo Way!
Douglas McAllister
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bison Basics, Beautifully Told Oct. 6 2002
Most of us grew up with cats or dogs as animal companions. Those who lived on farms had animals of wider acquaintance. Dale F. Lott was the grandson of the superintendent of the National Bison Range in Western Montana, and his father worked on the range as well. He writes, "I first encountered bison not as symbols of the West, the squandering of a natural resource, or a conservation triumph. They were simply the animals I had seen most often when I was a young child - enthralling in and of themselves." He went on to get his doctorate in biology, studying the huge animals he had grown up with. In _American Bison: A Natural History_ (University of California Press), he sums up the basics of bison. Thirty years of teaching seem to have given him an admirable power of storytelling, and his book is not only good for encompassing all the necessary natural history of the species, but also for his expression of personal encounters and feelings for the beasts.
In every chapter, Lott describes with no slight awe how well tuned evolution made these animals for their world, a world which is no longer. The peculiar bison profile, for instance, the huge mound above the forelegs, the hanging head, and the skinny rump, equips them for quick motion around the front feet "on which they pirouette on the sod like a hockey player on ice". A bull has to be able to pivot and twist to protect his own flanks and to dig a horn into the flank of an opponent.
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