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Adventures in the Wild

Tales from Biologists of the Natural State

Joy Trauth, Aldemaro Romero

Publication Year: 2008

The true tales in this collection will take readers from the chicken houses of Arkansas to the caves of Venezuela and Mexico to the coast of Alaska. These fifteen adventures range from amusing to life threatening. Some are filled with suspense and danger in exotic places, while others document more routine but important biological field and lab work.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

In October 2004 I had the opportunity to visit Arkansas State University. In my position as then director of the National Museum of Natural History, I was invited to speak about the importance of natural history collections. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism of the...

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Poisonous Plants, Purple Paint, and Pot

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pp. 1-9

MY INTEREST IN plant taxonomy was strongly developed from the fifth grade on, so I had done a lot of field work with plants while I was in high school, and I started college as a major in botany. I had spent years trying to convince my mother that I was not going to poison the family by...

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Nobody’s Dolphins

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pp. 11-19

Venezuela: A Magic Biodiversity Country—that was the title of a popular book I published in 1993 about the rich variety of species in a country with a wealth of diverse ecosystems. As founder and executive director for eight years of BIOMA, the Venezuelan Foundation for the Conservation...

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Into the Black Water

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pp. 21-42

“IT WAS A DARK and stormy night!” is the feeling experienced by every black-water river diver as he or she begins a descent, at least the ones who survive to become knowledgeable enough to tell the tales. If a diver doesn’t have the jitters before a dive, especially a dive at depth, then...

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Face to Face and Nose to Shoulder

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pp. 43-48

AS AN ANIMAL ECOLOGIST, I study free-ranging populations of wild animals. Since I’m particularly interested in questions relating to reproductive success, I work with large numbers of tagged animals that I can recapture during their lifetimes. Thus, I spend a lot of time handling...

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Orca Threaten, Toss Them the Dog

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pp. 49-70

This was the command barked out to me by a damp, angry, native Alaskan—damp because it is almost always damp in coastal Alaska and angry because she had made a decision that she knew would be unpopular with her family. Neena Totemof was a fisherwoman and knew the difference...

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Hold That Pose Please

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pp. 71-81

MY INTEREST IN color-slide photography grew out of a necessity to capture on film all stages of morphology, life history, and ecology of amphibians and reptiles. In 1980, early in my career as an academician, herpetologist, and field biologist, I agreed to participate with two colleagues...

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Rooting for New Medicines

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pp. 83-88

MANY YEARS AGO when I was doing my biology studies in a university in my native country, Peru, I realized that I wanted to do research with plants. Having been born in a country with an enormous culture in traditional medicine, I should not be astonished by the potential for the...

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Search for the Lost Pecos Gambusia

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pp. 89-105

EVERYBODY WORKS HARD for that one big break that catapults one into his or her chosen vocation, really not knowing what to expect or even being certain if the “dream” job is truly the right match for one’s interests and passions. Since grade school, I wanted to be a wildlife...

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Thanksgiving Dinner with Memories of the Ozarks

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pp. 107-112

THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY is a time to celebrate with family and friends a bountiful harvest and the pleasures of life. It is also a time to honor our pioneering ancestors and to sit down to a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings. In preparing for this meal, it usually takes a lot...

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Sir David Attenborough Visits Arkansas

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pp. 113-122

JOE, JOY, AND I had just arrived at the Best Western Inn in Hot Springs at about 2:35 PM on Sunday, July 30, 2006, and we were checking into the motel with some degree of difficulty. I told the desk clerk my room was being paid for by the Attenborough party. She appeared to be...

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Cave Biology: It’s Not a Job, It’s an Adventure

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pp. 123-134

A GOOD PORTION OF MY scholarly work has dealt with cave fauna—cave fishes, to be more precise. In fact, cave fishes were the central theme of my doctoral dissertation in 1984, and to this day I continue to do work in that area. That is not to say that I am a scientist whose cave...

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Just Floatin’ around Carriacou

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pp. 135-149

SOMETHING BIG GRABBED my scuba tank. I was watching the tank spiral down into the depths in the fading, rippling glow of dusk, that half-light that seems to last forever in the tropics. I was surprised by how long the tank stayed in view as it sank. I had never dropped a tank in the...

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The Hunt for Public Germs

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pp. 151-153

ALTHOUGH I AM an environmental microbiologist, I do most of my research at my lab bench rather than out in the field, only occasionally venturing outside to collect environmental samples and culture microorganisms from them. On this occasion, I ventured out on behalf of...

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The Sears Craftsman Wooden-Handled, Four-Pronged Potato Rake

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pp. 155-159

WHAT’S THE MOST essential tool for any field biologist, especially a herpetologist, to possess? It is a tool for lifting rocks, turning rotting logs, and, as I discovered, digging lizards out of their winter burrows. The four-pronged potato rake is the ideal tool for these uses, but not just...

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Kind of Blue—It’s All about the Name

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pp. 161-168

“KIND OF BLUE” can be used to describe cross-genre music, moods, or my husband’s description of the shirt he’s trying to match to a tie, but when I hear the phrase over the phone, I know I’m in for a long, frustrating session with some potential for embarrassment. Someone has...

About the Authors

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pp. 169-173


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pp. 175-182

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781610750059
E-ISBN-10: 1610750055
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557288721
Print-ISBN-10: 1557288720

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 35 black and white photographs
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Biology -- Fieldwork -- Anecdotes.
  • Arkansas State University. Dept. of Biological Sciences -- Officials and employees -- Anecdotes.
  • Biologists -- Arkansas -- Anecdotes.
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