Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 46:52; 2014
As a mammalogist living in the Great Plains, I was excited to hear about the publication of The Mammals of North Dakota by Robert Seabloom. No such field guide has been compiled since the late 1920s, leaving nature lovers and researchers alike without a modern source of information about the mammals of the state. Despite my enthusiasm, I will admit that I was originally expecting a standard (i.e., boring) field guide with dry facts about the taxonomic groups of interest. Much to my surprise, this book was not a mere list of relevant information, but an engaging work providing extensive background on the regional mammalian fauna. I was especially impressed how Seabloom managed to couch the important and relevant facts about each species in a broader context, permitting the reader to develop a rich understand- ing of the landscapes and ecosystems found in North Dakota.
The book begins by giving the reader some background information on the Class Mammalia, including a helpful section that lists not only the taxonomy of extinct and extant mammalian groups, but also offering a brief description of each order and where these animals are found. Such information is useful for nature enthusiasts and hobby biologists, who may have little background information about the order.
An introductory section, written by John Hoganson, a paleontologist with the North Dakota Geological Survey, provides a fascinating description of the mammalian paleo- fauna of North Dakota. Hoganson paints a picture of how the mammals of the state have changed over geological time, beginning with the small, inconspicuous rodent-like animals of the Cretaceous to the giant ground sloths and woolly mammoths of the Pleistocene. He also provides information about the diversity of North Dakota’s landscapes and how these have changed over time, including shallow oceans, forested swamplands, and savanna.