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Yellowstone Wildlife

The Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

By Paul A. Johnsgard, Photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen

Publication Year: 2013

Yellowstone Wildlife is a natural history of the wildlife species that call Yellowstone National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem their home. Illustrated with stunning images by renowned wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen, Yellowstone Wildlife describes the lives of species in the park, exploring their habitats from the Grand Tetons to Jackson Hole.

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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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-8


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pp. viii-xi

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xii-xiv

My conception of a book on Teton natural history occurred in the summer of 1974, when I took a camping trip through the Rocky Mountains and spent about a week in Jackson Hole. It soon became apparent that the area around the Jackson Hole Biological...

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1. History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion

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pp. 2-11

The wrinkled surface of northwestern Wyoming and adjacent Idaho is a complex myriad of mountainous uplifts and basins, of varied ages and origins. In a somewhat fanciful way it resembles the imprint of a raccoon’s...

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2. The Gros Ventre Valley

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pp. 12-25

The highest point in the Wind River Range and indeed all of Wyoming is Gannett Peak, which towers nearly 14,000 feet above sea level. About twenty-five miles north is Three Waters Mountain, an enormous massif whose summits form several miles of the Continental...

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3. The Sagebrush Sea

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pp. 26-35

Like a silvery green sheet, the sagebrush flats of Jackson Hole spread almost uninterrupted from the base of the Gros Ventre Mountains to the Teton Range, the slow-growing and long-lived sage providing unspoken testimony to the survival value of longevity and fortitude in a semiarid...

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4. The Lamar Valley

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pp. 36-49

The Lamar River has its origins high in the Absaroka Range east of Yellowstone Lake, where it dances down mountain slopes until it encounters Soda Butte Creek. Joining forces, their waters turn west to flow...

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5. The Canyon

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pp. 50-57

The raven’s favorite perch looked out over a canyon that is nearly a half mile wide and some 1,000 feet deep, with tall conifers growing right up to the brink of the steep cliff. From that vantage point, the raven had...

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6. The Geyser Basin

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pp. 58-73

The still-blackened snag had two decades previously been a mature lodgepole pine, and its gaunt skeleton was still standing amid the debris of other pines strewn about on the ground like giant toothpicks. It was a stark reminder and relic of a massive wildfire that had...

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7. The Willow Flats

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pp. 74-83

As a small flock of greater sandhill cranes flew north out of the National Elk Refuge in late April, they gradually broke up into the four lifelong pairs that had been formed several years before. Two pairs remained on the Elk Refuge to establish territories along Flat Creek, another...

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8. The Pond

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pp. 84-95

Only a few hundred yards east of an elegant hotel overlooking Jackson Lake lies a small, shallow pond in a depression in the glacial moraine. It is annually recharged by snow meltwater, and its outlet into Christian Creek has long been efficiently dammed by beavers....

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9. The Oxbow Bend

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pp. 96-103

From his perch in the tall cottonwood edging the Snake River, the male bald eagle scanned the river downstream toward Oxbow Bend. A half mile away a pair of ospreys was diligently fishing where the river encircles a wooded island and the main channel turns sharply southward along...

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10. The Aspen Island

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pp. 104-113

Like randomly shaped pieces in a gigantic ecological jigsaw puzzle, the aspen groves of Jackson Hole form a series of golden-green islands of various sizes in a matrix of silvery green sage. Sometimes they form a narrow belt between the sagebrush flats and the darker green...

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11. The Spruce Forest

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pp. 114-121

The ruffed grouse moved before dawn from his favorite roost in the aspen grove to his primary drumming log in a dense stand of tall spruce trees. Lying on the moist and still partially snow-covered soil were variably rotted logs of generations past. A carpet of soggy needles cushioned...

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12. The Cirque

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pp. 122-131

The little lake remained tightly icebound in the spring sunshine, even though patches of green were appearing around its edges and white calthas and yellow avalanche lilies were poking their perennially optimistic blossoms through the quickly melting snow. Around the snow-hidden...

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13. The End of Summer

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pp. 132-135

August is the time of warm days and easy living for animals in the Yellowstone region. Mosquitoes that had plagued the birds and large mammals during June and early July disappear, and an abundance of food makes foraging almost a spare-time activity rather than...

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14. A Yellowstone Autumn

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pp. 136-143

Over the decades of the twentieth century, the populations of elk and bison in Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks progressively increased as wolves, mountain lions, and coyotes were effectively removed, the last Yellowstone wolf having been killed in 1926. The Park...

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Appendix 1: Observing Wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion

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pp. 144-161

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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pp. 162-169

Appendix 3: Vertebrates of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion

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pp. 170-197

Appendix 4: Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion

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pp. 198-199

Appendix 5: Butterflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion

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pp. 200-203

Appendix 6: Latin Names of Plants Mentioned in the Text

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pp. 204-205

Bibliographic Notes and References

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pp. 208-225


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pp. 226-228

E-ISBN-13: 9781607322290
E-ISBN-10: 1607322293
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607322283
Print-ISBN-10: 1607322285

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Natural history -- Yellowstone National Park.
  • Animals -- Yellowstone National Park -- Pictorial works.
  • Plants -- Yellowstone National Park -- Pictorial works.
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