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The Snake Scientist (Scientists in the Field


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The park guides at Narcisse Wildlife Management Area in Manitoba, Canada, will tell you to watch your step¾there might be a snake underfoot. With 18,000 red-sided garter snakes slithering around, they are likely to be right! Each spring, after eight months of hibernating underground, the snakes make their way to the surface and pour out of the earth. Some people might prefer to stay away from the site of the world's greatest concentration of snakes, but others, such as scientist Bob Mason, are drawn to it. There he "can see more snakes in a day than in the course of a three-year field study" anywhere else. Mason and his assistants have been studying these snakes for 15 years. Author Sy Montgomery, with the help of Nic Bishop's exceptional photos, enables the reader to join Mason and his team in the field and look over their shoulders as they work. (Montgomery also wrote "Eat Your Lawn!" on page 8 of this issue.) They gather pillowcases full of snakes, record the length, weight and temperature of each one, and perform experiments, such as sending snakes through mazes. Questions they are investigating include: Why are only adult snakes found in the dens. How do these snakes find mates. And how do they navigate the 20 miles between the marshes where they feed during the summer and their winter dens. The Snake Scientist is a must-read for any snake lover or budding naturalist. It may even make grown-ups want to grow up to be scientists.

Joan Silberlicht Epstein --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Gr 5-8-The excitement of science in action fills the pages of these two books. Montgomery focuses on one man and his research on the red-sided garter snake in Canada. The lively text communicates both the meticulous measurements required in this kind of work and the thrill of new discoveries. Large, full-color photos of the zoologist and young students at work, and lots of wriggly snakes, pull readers into the presentation. A list of "unsolved mysteries" about the snakes and instructions on visiting the snake dens will keep interest high to the very last page. Swinburne gives a historical perspective on the extermination of wolves from the Lower 48 states and details the work of biologists in their efforts to reintroduce the animals into Yellowstone National Park. Vintage illustrations (including pictures of dead wolves) and excellent full-color photos document a struggle that, unfortunately, is far from over. A map showing current and historical wolf ranges and a list for further reading that includes books, periodicals, and Web sites are helpful additions. Two outstanding titles that show scientists at work.-Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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