The Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Publication Year: 2013
From charismatic megafauna like elk, bison, wolves, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears, to smaller mammals like bats, pikas, beavers, and otters, to some of the 279 species of birds, Johnsgard describes the behavior of animals throughout the seasons, with sections on what summer and autumn mean to the wildlife of the park, especially with the intrusion of millions of tourists each year. Enhanced by Mangelsen’s wildlife photography, Yellowstone Wildlife reveals the beauty and complexity of these species’ intertwined lives and that of Yellowstone’s greater ecosystem.
Published by: University Press of Colorado
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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...became apparent that the area around the Jackson Hole Biological Station would be ideal for making extended observations on sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans, two species of special interest to me. Dr. Oscar Paris, the station’s director, later encouraged me to apply for research space there the following summer. As a result, I spent parts ...
1. History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion
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...right forefoot that, having been pressed into sticky clay, was withdrawn to form a series of ridges and peaks that subsequently solidified into ranges of mountains extending southward from the northwestern cor-Wyoming represents a gigantic if somewhat fanciful paw print, which rises more than a thousand feet above the surrounding lowlands. The ...
2. The Gros Ventre Valley
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...mous massif whose summits form several miles of the Continental Divide. Its eastern slopes drain into creeks that flow into such famous rivers as the Wind, the Bighorn, the Yellowstone, the Missouri, and the Mississippi. Water draining off its broad, inclined southwestern flanks forms the headwaters of the Green River, which merges with ...
3. The Sagebrush Sea
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...timony to the survival value of longevity and fortitude in a semiarid environment. The species of sagebrush dominating these flats is part of a vegetational type that evolved and spread widely throughout the Intermountain West during the uplift of the Rocky Mountains more than twenty million years ago. Only a few other species of shrubs, ...
4. The Lamar Valley
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...through a broad and mostly unforested valley, the Lamar Valley. During late glacial times this valley was scoured and shaped by a sudden immense surge of water when an upstream ice dam broke, bringing a mix of water, rocks, and mud into the valley. After merging with the Yellowstone River and a few other tributary streams, the now considerably enlarged river ...
5. The Canyon
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...an uninterrupted view for a mile or more in each direction. At its back was a large parking lot, where tourists would emerge from vehicles, with cameras or binoculars in hand, and sometimes also with candy or various other edible items. It was a warm summer day in mid-July, and the raven preferred to perch in the shade to avoid overheating and ...
6. The Geyser Basin
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...was a stark reminder and relic of a massive wildfire that had enveloped the area in 1988, when more than a third of Yellowstone Park, nearly 800,000 acres, had been consumed by rampaging fires. The most heav-ily burned areas mainly consisted of ancient lodgepole pines, some up to 200–250 years old, resulting from seeds that had germinated after ...
7. The Willow Flats
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...on the Elk Refuge to establish territories along Flat Creek, another set-tled into a beaver pond on a small creek below Teton Point overlook in Grand Teton National Park, and a third pair headed for a beaver pond on the lower Buffalo Fork River. The remaining pair continued north This table-flat area of willow thickets and boggy grasslands is impen-...
8. The Pond
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...into Christian Creek has long been efficiently dammed by beavers. At its deeper southern end an extensive bed of bulrushes fringes the shoreline. The central portion is fairly deep, open water, and the northern end merges into a succession of communities dominated by emergent rushes, low grasses and sedges, and willow thickets. Thus, in ...
9. The Oxbow Bend
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...wooded island and the main channel turns sharply southward along the base of Signal Mountain. Twelve feet below him his mate had just laid her first egg in a gigantic nest of twigs and branches. Both birds were nearly five years old and in full adult plumage. They had selected this nesting site the year before, spent months constructing the nest, ...
10. The Aspen Island
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...between the sagebrush flats and the darker green conifers on the mountain slopes, often growing on low moraine hills shaped by the last glacier about 14,000 years ago. Each aspen grove is virtually an island unto itself, often made up of genetically identical descendants that sprout and spread from the roots of a single seedling. Sometimes ...
11. The Spruce Forest
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...ably rotted logs of generations past. A carpet of soggy needles cush-ioned the grouse’s footsteps as he approached the log in the half-light of the mid-May dawn. He lightly jumped onto the smaller end of the log and walked slowly toward its larger portion. A few feet from the end he stopped, turned his body at right angles to the log, placed his ...
12. The Cirque
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...blossoms through the quickly melting snow. Around the snow-hidden circular lake, named Solitude by some unknown explorer, a spectacular amphitheater rises sharply for nearly 1,000 feet. It closely clasps the lake in its rocky grasp except to the southeast, where the walls open to provide a stunning vista of a triumvirate of massive pinnacles, the ...
13. The End of Summer
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...makes foraging almost a spare-time activity rather than the central pre-hunt with their parents. Usually the family was up by dawn, with the young eager to be out. The youngsters delighted in racing up and down an old cottonwood near their den, playing games of tag. At times they jumped from the lower branches to the ground or they would hang on ...
14. A Yellowstone Autumn
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...the last Yellowstone wolf having been killed in 1926. The Park Service began killing Yellowstone bison during the 1920s, when the popula-tion was rising rapidly, from about 500 in 1920 to about 1,100 by 1930. In 1934 an elk-culling program also began to reduce that population by about 3,000 per year, aiming toward a goal of more ecologically sustain-...
Appendix 1: Observing Wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion
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The great diversity of wildlife in both national parks ensures interesting observations any time of the year. However, some areas and seasons are far better than others. Throughout the year, early morning and late evening are the best times to see large animals and birds. Late...
Appendix 2: Birds of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion
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Appendix 3: Vertebrates of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion
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Appendix 4: Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion
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Appendix 5: Butterflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion
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Appendix 6: Latin Names of Plants Mentioned in the Text
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Bibliographic Notes and References
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013