Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is the oldest and one of the largest national parks in the world. In this remarkable book, scientists Mary Meagher and Douglas B. Houston present 100 sets of photographs that compare the Yellowstone of old with the park of today.
Most of the photo sets include three pictures-not the usual two-with many of the original views dating back to the 1870s and 1880s. From the same photo points used by early photographers, Meagher and Houston rephotographed the scenes in the 1970s, and then, following the great fires of 1988, again in the 1990s. The result is an illuminating record of Yellowstone’s dynamic ecosystem and its changes over time.
Through close analysis of the photos and reference to the vast amount of available data, Meagher and Houston describe changes in vegetation, growth of wildlife populations, the effect of beaver occupancy on wetland areas, and geothermal and elevational shifts. At the same time they point out the extent to which many sites have not changed-despite important switches in park policy and an increase in human activity.
Yellowstone National Park has long been the focus of major ecological debates. Should managers allow wildfires to burn? Should the elk and bison populations be controlled? Are too many people visiting the park? Yellowstone And The Biology Of Time offers a wealth of information to help us answer these questions. A visual treasure, this book will be of value to scientists from various disciplines as well as to the many people who care about Yellowstone and other protected wilderness areas around the world.
After the vast plateau called Yellowstone became a national park in 1872, dozens of federally sponsored scientists entered the area to record details of the region's natural history and ecology. As part of that project, photographers made hundreds of images of the park's most significant features. Research scientists Meagher and Houston have studied these photographs from the 1870s and 1880s and then rephotographed the same scenes, first in the 1970s, then after the great fires of 1988, and then again in the mid-1990s. The resulting sequences of photographs offer a detailed record of ecological change in the park. At the time of the first survey, for instance, the region was seeded with native grasses and only lightly grazed by cattle; in later years, cattle grazing had caused the removal of those native grasses, which were supplanted by nonnative vegetation, including many grasses brought in from Central Asia. (One series of views taken near the park's north entrance at Gardiner, Montana, shows a marked decline, for instance, in sagebrush but an increase in Douglas fir.) Meagher and Houston offer interesting asides throughout on the natural and human history of Yellowstone; for example, they note that meat was transported to the hotels scattered through the national park in metal-sheathed wagons to protect it from marauding bears. As the views show, some things never change: then, as now, Yellowstone was rich in those bears, and in antelope, elk, bison, moose, and other large species. --Gregory McNamee
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