Best known for its cactus-studded deserts and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, Arizona boasts even more natural features that surprise visitors and continue to amaze longtime residents. Using C. H. Merriam’s turn-of-the-twentieth-century descriptions of Arizona’s life zones, Charles Lowe first defined those biotic communities in his 1964 book Arizona’s Natural Environment. Now ten experts on Arizona’s natural setting build on that classic to reflect our increased knowledge of basic physical and biological processes and the impact of both natural and man-made disturbances on these environments.
Natural Environments of Arizona bridges the gap between coffee-table volumes and scientific literature, offering a nontechnical, single-volume overview that introduces readers to a myriad of topics and provides pointers toward deeper reading. It’s all here: climate, geology, soil and water resources, an amazing variety of flora and fauna—and of course human impacts on the state’s fragile ecosystems.
These chapters show the extent to which Arizona’s natural environments have changed since Lowe first set the stage for their study. They consider changes in forests and grasslands, the effects of soil erosion, questions about water quality, and the evolving status of rivers and wildlife communities. And while the common thread of environments makes the book a complete introduction to the subject, each chapter stands alone as an authoritative synopsis of its particular topic.
Ranging widely over the impacts of drought, floods, and wildfires, this practical guide clearly shows that nature is more than picturesque landscapes, vegetation, and wildlife. For anyone with a dog-eared copy of Lowe, this book will serve as the new standard on the subject—a valuable tool for resource managers, students, and general readers alike.
- Editors: Owen K. Davis and Peter F. Ffolliot