Synopses & Reviews
When Richard Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971, eighty million acres were flagged as possible national park land. Field expeditions were tasked with recording what was contained in these vast acres. Under this decree, five men were sent into the sprawling, roadless interior of Alaska, unsure of what theyandrsquo;d encounter and ultimately responsible for the fate of four thousand pristine acres.
Life and Times of a Big River follows Peter J. Marchand and his team of biologists as they set out to explore the land that would ultimately become the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Their encounters with strange plants, rare insects, and little-known mammals bring to life a land once thought to be static and monotonous. And their struggles to navigate and adapt to an unforgiving environment capture the rigorous demands of remote field work. Weaving in and out ofand#160;Marchandand#39;s narrative is an account of the natural and cultural history of the area as it relates to the expedition and the regionandrsquo;s Native peoples. Life and Times of a Big Riverand#160;chorincles this riveting, one-of-a-kind journey of uncertainty and discovery from a disparate (and at one point desperate) group of biologists.
andldquo;The most successful source book that I know of for an introduction to the natural history of Alaska's northernmost terrestrial and aquatic regional systems. That is, its materials provide natural history students with a reference that abounds with insights into the workings of organisms in our challenging (and challenged) environments.andrdquo;
and#8220;This comprehensive account and guide to the biology and natural history of Alaskaand#8217;s North Slope contains wonderful and authoritative detail of practically every animal and plant species, the geology, and the human history of a fascinating part of Earth. . . . I have been visiting and doing research on the North Slope for twenty-five years, yet I learned something new on almost every page.and#8221;
andldquo;Superbly illustrated with color photography throughout, Land of Extremes: A Natural History of the Arctic North Slope of Alaska is informed, informative, a seminal work of impressive scope and scholarship.andrdquo;
andldquo;Well researched and well written, without heavy use of scientific jargon, and beautifully illustrated with color photographs. This is far more than a standard guide to the area. . . . Highly recommended.andrdquo;and#160;
andldquo;An admirable introduction to the ecology of the contemporary circumpolar north.andrdquo;
This book is a comprehensive guide to the natural history of the North Slope, the only arctic tundra in the United States. The first section provides detailed information on climate, geology, landforms, and ecology. The second provides a guide to the identification and natural history of the common animals and plants and a primer on the human prehistory of the region from the Pleistocene through the mid-twentieth century. The appendix provides the framework for a tour of the natural history features along the Dalton Highway, a road connecting the crest of the Brooks Range with Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean, and includes mile markers where travelers may safely pull off to view geologic formations, plants, birds, mammals, and fish. Featuring hundreds of illustrations that support the clear, authoritative text, Land of Extremes
reveals the arctic tundra as an ecosystem teeming with life.and#160;and#160;
Life and Times of a Big River
weaves together the fascinating cultural and natural history of interior Alaska through the story of a field expedition conducted by 5 biologists in a 4000-square-mile, roadless area of interior Alaska. The expedition was ordered by the United States government following the signing into law of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and was to help decide the fate of a vast area that would ultimately become the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.
And yet this is a human story, related through the personal experiencesand#151;the uncertainties, discoveries, accidents, and encounters with othersand#151;recorded by this disparate (and at one point desperate) group of biologists. Weaving in and out of this narrative is an account of the natural and cultural history of the area, told as it related to the expedition and to people living in the bush. The five scientists explore every aspect of the land itself: from fossil tree ferns to rare insects and little-known mammals, deciphering a record of change in a land often thought of as static and monotonous. Against this background the history of both aboriginal and Anglo exploitation and adaptation to a very demanding environment is also told. In the context of the expedition, the natural and cultural history takes on an uncommon relevance and insight.
This expedition may well represent the last of its kind, conducted before the explosion of satellite communications and geographic positioning technology forever changed scientific field work in remote regions.
About the Author
is a freshwater ecologist and a committed field naturalist who has worked extensively in the Smoky Mountains, New Zealand, Panama, the Alaska Arctic, and Iceland.and#160;
John Hobbie is a senior scholar at the Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He is a founding researcher of the Toolik Field Station in Alaska and former director of the Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research Project there.
Table of Contents
Prologue. Traveling heavy
The work of ice * Library in stone * A proposal to blow up Cape Thomspon * Village on the edge of wild
II. Flat Water
Five men and a dog * Dancing forest * Kutchin under siege * Salmon for Swedes
Mosquito wars * Sagebrush saga * Reindeer to the rescue * Bear stories Iandrsquo;d never heard before
Circleandrsquo;s unwelcome committee * A river running slush * Pygmy shrews and a giant club moss * Permafrost permutations
V. Charley River
Lost in the clouds * Searching for Garrett * The high price of squirrel meat * An experiment I never want to repeat
Thieving pikas and singing voles * Fortymile caribou * Tales the three-rings tell * Truth is a chameleon
VII. The Years After
Death without reason * Mother of all summers * Plants on the move * Changing fortunes of moose and men