Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains: A Natural History

Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains: A Natural History

Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains: A Natural History

Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains: A Natural History

Synopsis

Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains is an easy-to-use reference on the wildlife that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark encountered during their 1804-6 Corps of Discovery expedition. Over one hundred animals and plants that were first carefully described and in some cases discovered by Lewis and Clark are identified here. More than an expedition reference guide, Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains also examines the lasting importance of the expedition's discoveries, the significance of the Plains plants and animals to local Native Americans, and the current status of Plains wildlife. Lavishly illustrated with Paul A. Johnsgard's drawings of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and plants, the book also includes a guide to the Lewis and Clark sites of botanical and zoological interest and more than seventy sites where readers can follow in the footsteps of two of America's greatest pioneering naturalists. Visit the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Online Project, based on Gary E. Moulton's celebrated edition of the Lewis and Clark Journals. Initially offering almost two hundred pages from volume 4, the site will eventually feature the full text of the Journals--almost five thousand pages. Also view a gallery of images and hear acclaimed poet William Kloefkorn reading selected passages. With full-text searchability and ease of navigation, the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Online Project is a useful tool for students and scholars and an engaging website for the general public. Sponsored by the University of Nebraska Press, the Center for Great Plains Studies, and the University of Nebraska E-Text Center.lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to identify and describe the Great Plains animals and plants that were encountered and described by Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery two centuries ago during their famous exploratory expedition of the Louisiana Purchase territories. It also attempts to place both the organisms they discovered in an ecological framework and these two explorers in a historical context as biologists. It is intended to serve as a bicentennial tribute to this remarkable exploration of the then-unknown lands comprising the Louisiana Purchase. The bicentennial of this epic journey seems an especially appropriate time to review and marvel at the expedition's accomplishments, and to reflect on the changes in the land and its associated biota that have occurred during the subsequent two hundred years of American history.

The animals selected for inclusion in this survey represent as many as possible of the identifiable species of vertebrates that were initially described, or at least apparently discovered, by the Lewis and Clark expedition while crossing the Great Plains as well as those previously known species that were described in sufficient detail to permit identification with some degree of confidence. Special attention has been given to those animal species encountered by the Corps of Discovery that were previously unknown, or ones for which important new biological information was obtained during the expedition. However, a few distinctly western and montane-adapted animals such as the blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) and pinyon jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) were excluded. Both of these forest-adapted birds were encountered at the very edge of the Great Plains in western Montana. A few additional western or northern species, such as the Columbian ground squirrel, lynx, and moose, were likewise deemed to be of doubtful species identification or of questionable geographic affinities. These species have been included in the survey, but their names are set off by parentheses.

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