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Yellowstone and the Biology of Time: Photographs Across a Century
by Mary Meagher
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0806130067, Paperback)After the vast plateau called Yellowstone became a national park in 1872, dozens of federally sponsored scientists entered the area to record details of the region's natural history and ecology. As part of that project, photographers made hundreds of images of the park's most significant features. Research scientists Meagher and Houston have studied these photographs from the 1870s and 1880s and then rephotographed the same scenes, first in the 1970s, then after the great fires of 1988, and then again in the mid-1990s. The resulting sequences of photographs offer a detailed record of ecological change in the park. At the time of the first survey, for instance, the region was seeded with native grasses and only lightly grazed by cattle; in later years, cattle grazing had caused the removal of those native grasses, which were supplanted by nonnative vegetation, including many grasses brought in from Central Asia. (One series of views taken near the park's north entrance at Gardiner, Montana, shows a marked decline, for instance, in sagebrush but an increase in Douglas fir.) Meagher and Houston offer interesting asides throughout on the natural and human history of Yellowstone; for example, they note that meat was transported to the hotels scattered through the national park in metal-sheathed wagons to protect it from marauding bears. As the views show, some things never change: then, as now, Yellowstone was rich in those bears, and in antelope, elk, bison, moose, and other large species. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)
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