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Rabbits and Rats, Birds and Seeds, Cactus and Trees

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About the author:
Renaldo, a Sonoran desert tortoise, lives on the top of Mount Salvatierra, where he has a good view of the changes and processes that happen in his El Pinacate desert ecosystem over several decades. Lacking fingers, a camera and a computer, he recruited Paul Dayton, a visiting biologist, to tell his story.

Paul Dayton grew up in the Sonoran Desert, in Tucson, Arizona. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Arizona and his Ph.D. in Zoology from University of Washington. He is a biological oceanographer and ecologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Dayton has worked in Benthic Ecology, Marine Conservation & Policy, Evolution & Natural History, and General Ecology.

During his 45-year career at Scripps, Dayton has researched coastal Antarctic habitats and rocky-shore and kelp habitats worldwide in order to better understand marine ecosystems. He has also documented the environmental impacts of overfishing, water reclamation, and phenomena such as El Niño on coastal ecology.

Among other honors, Dayton is the only person to win both the George Mercer Award (1974) and the WS Cooper Award (2000) from the Ecological Society of America. In 2002 he received the Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. In 2004 he was honored with the Edward O. Wilson Naturalist Award from the American Society of Naturalists, and in 2006 he was the first recipient of the Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology, awarded by a jury of scientists representing Catalonia, the European Union, and the international ecology community.

Rabbits and Rats, Birds and Seeds, Cactus and Trees, for children and adults, is also published in Spanish: "Liebres y Ratas, Aves y Semillas, Cactos y Árboles," translated by Barbara Ilizaliturri and Exequiel Ezcurra.)

Dayton's earlier publications have been in peer-reviewed scientific journals and books. He has authored or co-authored about 150 scientific papers.


Rabbits and Rats, Birds and Seeds, Cactus and Trees

Plants and animals at work in El Pinacate, Sonoran Desert

Authored by Paul Dayton
Edition: 1

Often when we look at a desert landscape, we see only today’s "snapshot" of the plants and animals that live there. But what would we see if we took a much longer look — long enough to see the dramatic changes that happen over time in this dynamic ecosystem?

This little book tells the fascinating story of life in the desert as seen through the eyes of Renaldo, a Sonoran desert tortoise who has observed the weather, plants and animals in the highly diverse El Pinacate (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve) for many years.

“I am more than 80 years old,” begins Renaldo, “and I’ve lived here all my life. I want to tell you about some of the things I’ve seen.”

Photos, drawings and Renaldo’s clear explanations help readers of all ages and backgrounds understand this Sonoran desert and encourage them to wonder about what they see there:

Why is that packrat nest surrounded by a mess of sharp-spined cactus "buds"?

Why is this saguaro cactus standing all alone, while that one over there seems to be "embraced" by the branches of a mesquite tree?

Why do some ocotillo plants have a few long stems reaching almost straight up, while other ocotillos are "bushy," with more, shorter stems?

What killed the cactuses whose woody "skeletons" we see stretched out on the ground?

Why are grasses and small flowering plants dotted over the landscape in patches, almost as if they were planted in small gardens? And what does that have to do with jackrabbit boxing matches?

Find the fascinating answers to these and other questions in the pages of Rabbits and Rats, Birds and Seeds, Cactus and Trees, or in the Spanish-language edition: Liebres y Ratas, Aves y Semillas, Cactos y Árboles.

Royalties from this book will be donated to support regional environmental education in Sonora, Mexico.

Publication Date:
0997003219 / 9780997003215
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5" x 8.5"
Full Color
Related Categories:
Nature / Ecosystems & Habitats / Deserts

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