Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America's Own Backyard

photos by Tom Uhlman. 80p. bibliog. chart. diag. glossary. index. maps. notes. websites. (Scientists in the Field). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. May 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780547792682.
RedReviewStarGr 4–8—This entry in this popular series focuses on the study of selected plants, animals, and geologic formations in three of our most famous national parks, which are akin to "natural laboratories and living museums." It all begins in Yellowstone National Park, where hydrothermal activity and its effects are astutely explained. Next, the history, current status, and study of the famous park grizzly bears are carefully detailed. Exploration and examination of giant saguaro cacti and the elusive Gila monster are the focus in the section on Saguaro National Park, which includes a description of "BioBlitz" through which everyday citizens and students can assist in park research programs through 2016. The Great Smoky Mountains is home to more than 30 species of salamanders, and they, plus the equally fascinating fireflies of the region, are targeted in the final chapters. Pertinent, attention-grabbing, full-color photographs and captions, maps, infrared images, and diagrams accompany the fascinating, informative text in each section. Featured experts provide primary-source information for each topic covered. The introductory map of all national parks is missing two in Colorado, but that is a quibble. Overall, this is a well-written, unique, carefully organized treat for nature lovers and investigators.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO
Carson takes readers to three national parks--Yellowstone, Saguaro, and Great Smoky Mountains--to introduce a collection of scientists and researchers. The focus is on not just the science but also methods of investigation, from scientific tools to necessary hiking gear. Facts about the parks and supporting scientific information, along with instructive photographs, are interspersed throughout the book. Bib., glos., ind.
Although most of us think about our national parks in terms of their stunning natural vistas and opportunities for outdoor adventures, they also host numerous scientific research projects. Carson takes readers to three of the parks -- Yellowstone, Saguaro, and Great Smoky Mountains -- and introduces us to a collection of scientists, including university researchers, park rangers, volunteers, and even high-school students. Their wide-ranging investigations of the geology, ecology, and biology of each region include mapping the range and diet of grizzly bears, counting and measuring cacti, documenting changes in hydrothermal activity, and understanding the evolution of salamanders through differences in their DNA. The focus is on not just the science itself but also the methods of investigation, from scientific tools to the hiking gear needed to access remote sections of each park. Facts about the national parks and supporting scientific information are interspersed throughout the book, along with instructive photographs of the parks, the researchers, and the plants, animals, and formations that they study. Glossary, selected bibliography, sources, and index appended. danielle j. ford

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