American Bison combines the latest scientific information and one man's personal experience in an homage to one of the most magnificent animals to have roamed America's vast, vanished grasslands. Dale F. Lott, a distinguished behavioral ecologist who was born on the National Bison Range and has studied the buffalo for many years, relates what is known about this iconic animal's life in the wild and its troubled history with humans. Written with unusual grace and verve, "American Bison" takes us on a journey into the bison's past and shares a compelling vision for its future, offering along the way a valuable introduction to North American prairie ecology. We become Lott's companions in the field as he acquaints us with the social life and physiology of the bison, sharing stories about its impressive physical prowess and fascinating relationships. Describing the entire grassland community in which the bison live, he writes about the wolves, pronghorn, prairie dogs, grizzly bears, and other animals and plants, detailing the interdependent relationships among these inhabitants of a lost landscape.
Lott also traces the long and dramatic relationship between the bison and Native Americans, and gives a surprising look at the history of the hide hunts that delivered the coup de grace to the already dwindling bison population in a few short years. This book gives us a peek at the rich and unique ways of life that evolved in the heart of America. Lott also dismantles many of the myths we have created about these ways of life, and about the bison in particular, to reveal the animal itself: ruminating, reproducing, and rutting in its full glory. His portrait of the bison ultimately becomes a plea to conserve its wildness and an eloquent meditation on the importance of the wild in our lives.
Dale F. Lott (1934-2004) was Professor Emeritus of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Intraspecific Variation in the Social Systems of Wild Vertebrates (1991).
List of Illustrations Foreword Preface Part One. Relationships, Relationships 1. Bull to Bull and Cow to Bull 2. Cow to Cow 3. Cow to Calf Part Two. The Machinery of a Bison's Life 4. Bison Athletics 5. Digestion: Grass to Gas and Chips 6. Temperature Control Part Three. Whence They Came Forth, and How Much They Multiplied 7. Ancestors and Relatives 8. How Many? Bison Population in Primitive America Part Four. The Bison's Neighborhood 9. The Central Grassland: Where Buffalo Roam When They're at Home Part Five. The Bison's Neighbors 10. Wolves and Bison: Myths and Realities 11. Buffalo Birds 12. Diseases and Parasites 13. Pronghorn 14. Prairie Dogs 15. Badgers 16. Coyotes 17. Grizzlies 18. Ferrets Part Six. Human and Buffalo 19. Close Encounters of the Buffalo Kind 20. To Kill a Bison 21. Bison Numbers before the Great Slaughter 22. Where Have All the Bison Gone? 23. Attitudes 24. Conservation: Then and Now 25. A Great Plains Park Notes Bibliography Index