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Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, an organization of wolf research around the world, as compiled, authored and edited by David Mech and Luigi Boitani, is quite literally the definitive book about wolves. Anyone who has a true interest in this animal, and wants to understand the wolf will find this book superbly well organized and supported. Bookshelves are loaded with books about wolves, so why another one? From the preface: "Because none of the others presents the comprehensive, up-to-date, and documented treatment that we strove for in this one. None of them combine the 350 person-years of research experience with, and knowledge of, wolves that our authors bring to the project. We have attempted here to synthesize as much of the scientific and scholarly literature on the wolf as we could."
Odds are if you have an interest in this book, you have at least some knowledge about David Mech. Mech is a Senior Scientist with the Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. David Mech is the dean of the world's wolf biologists. He has studied and written about wolves for over fifty years. David Mech began studying wolves on Isle Royale in 1959, submitted his thesis and received his doctoral degree in 1962. With some modifications the thesis became the seventh in the National Parks Fauna series, "The Wolves of Isle Royale" which was published in 1966. This was followed by "The Wolf The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species", a 1970 publication by Natural History Press, and is the forerunner of the book under review.
Prof. Luigi Boitani is a Full Professor of Conservation Biology and Animal Ecology, Head of the the Department of Animal and Human Biology at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Idaho. In addition, Boitani is the Director of the Conservation of animal biodiversity: protected areas and ecological networks, President of the Institute of Applied Ecology Society for Conservation Biology in Washington D.C., Chair of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe and of the Wolf Specialist Group, SSC/IUCN, as well as member of the Steering Committee of the Species Survival Commission, IUCN.
The main focus of Boitani's research has been the use of scientific data and methods in the practice of conservation with particular emphasis on reducing the science-policy gap which weakens the effectiveness of large areas of conservation activities. His research interests include: the ecology and conservation of large mammals, as well as the theory and practice of identifying and managing protected areas. Since 1973, he has worked on a series of projects focused on the ecology and conservation biology of the wolf (Canis lupus) in Italy as well as several other European countries.
Mech, and Boitani, have compiled and organized a veritable Everest of information and research about wolves. Wolves: Behavior Ecology and Conservation can be read cover- to-cover, or used for the purpose of research and cross- reference. Though, at times, a bit overwhelming for someone with a casual interest in wolves, especially if the reader has no background in statistics, "Wolves" should remain the epitome of wolf information for some time to come. As the world of biological study continues to evolve, we find the molecular genetic studies of wolves, as well as an update on wolf evolution and taxonomy within the books 13 chapters.
One will find 56 pages of references, 12 pages of authors indexed, as well as a comprehensive subject index. Topics in Wolves are also well supported by graphs and data tables Therefore, if one wants to further research about any topic that may come to mind about wolves, primary sources are provided in the reference section. Perhaps dry, but never lacking for explanation and backing research, Mech and Boitani demonstrate the pure science that has gone into the study of the wolf in regard to perhaps every conceivable aspect of its ecology.
In conclusion, one cannot find a more comprehensive, or more organized compilation of information and research on wolves in one place than Wolves: Behavior Ecology and Conservation as synthesized, authored and edited by David Mech and Luigi Boitani. The authors and editors of Wolves: Behavior Ecology and Conservation have donated all royalties from this book to The International Wolf Center as a foundation for lasting research and ecologically sound wolf management in order to minimize conflict between wolves and humans and better the chances for wolf conservation worldwide.