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Dam Builders: The Natural History of Beavers and their Ponds

Few animals in the world are as famous or as infamous as the beaver, and none save our species has the ability to so dramatically transform its environment.

Beavers are remarkable animals. They have teeth that self-sharpen and never stop growing, and a heart that slows down and valves that close in their ears and noses when they dive. Their tail is the most multi-purpose of any animal on this planet; in addition to communication its many functions include serving as an air conditioner in summer and a food pantry in winter.

From mighty moose that glean sodium from aquatic plants to swallows that live in drowned trees and tiny butterflies that nectar in meadows where a pond once stood, myriad organisms benefit from the actions of beavers.

This book is a comprehensive overview of the lives of beavers and the habitats that arise from their actions. It is a visual extravaganza: approximately 400 photographs provide intimate insights into the lives of beavers and the inhabitants of their ponds and related habitats. Many new observations and rarely seen moments - such as beavers fighting - are documented in it.

Awards
Finalist for the 2015 Lane Anderson Award for the Best in Canadian Science Writing - Adult category

Reviews
"This book is a comprehensive overview of the lives of beavers and the habitats that arise from their actions. It is a visual extravaganza: approximately 400 photographs provide intimate insights into the lives of beavers and the inhabitants of their ponds and related habitats. Many new observations and rarely seen moments — such as beavers fighting — are documented in it. — Canada's History Magazine

"With stunning photographs throughout, this extraordinary book may seem more suited for the coffee table than an academic bookshelf. But the photographs do more than simply illustrate the text—they tell the story of beavers visually and powerfully, bearing witness to engineering marvels that result in complex ecosystems that benefit both beavers and other species. The accompanying text, admittedly sparse relative to the photographs, is just as important and earns the book respect as an academic resource. Runtz acknowledges that he is a naturalist, not a research biologist. But his bias as a naturalist who admires the beaver for its ecological role and skill for altering the landscape does not lessen the volume's value, which is a "blend of gleanings from ... scientific literature" and Runtz's personal observations. The familiar tone of the prose draws readers into beavers' watery world. Dozens of other species—birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, mammals, flora—are considered as co-inhabitants of beaver constructed ecosystems, and the author examines beavers' impact on the human built world. Highly recommended" — Choice Magazine

Educator Information
This image-heavy book (approximately 400 photographs) has sparse but informative text and is geared towards adults. However, the wide range of photographs and information on beavers could be useful for classroom studies of beavers.

Additional Information
330 pages | 10.50" x 10.50"

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