In 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado introduced the first domestic livestock to the American Southwest. Over the subsequent four centuries, cattle, horses, and sheep have created a massive ecological experiment on these arid grasslands. The Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch in the high desert of southeastern Arizona is an 8,000-acre sanctuary where grazing has been banned since 1968. In this spirited account, Carl and Jane Bock summarize the results of thirty years of fieldwork aimed at understanding the dynamics of grasslands in the absence of livestock. Their intimate look at the natural history of this unique site illuminates many issues pertaining to the protection and restoration of our nation's grasslands and will engage anyone with a passion for the natural beauty of the American Southwest.
"This book brings together nearly every aspect of grassland research in the American Southwest and is written to appeal to both academics and the general public. It refutes conventional myths about some causes of grassland change, tests hypotheses in restoration ecology, and offers new perspectives on the recovery of ecosystems free from livestock grazing. It is a book that every naturalist or ecologist should read." CONRAD BAHRE, author of A Legacy of Change: Historic Human impact on Vegetation in the Arizona Borderlands
"Jane and Carl Bock write precisely as well as lovingly of the dynamics of the distinctive grasslands near the U.S./Mexico border in Arizona. They also bring decades of first-rate science to bear on their topic. Their seasoned view of ecological and perceptual changes in this community is unique and will go a long way toward healing and restoring the remaining fragments of this biome in southeastern Arizona." GARY PAUL NABHAN, author of Cultures of Habitat
"I expected another nature book. What I found was, to my surprise, a love story. Carl and Jane Bock visited the Research Ranch in the early 1970S and fell in love-with the Sonoita Plain, the plants and animals there, and the people who called it home. Like all good love stories, this one is full of passion and joy, excitement and disappointment, and sadness and humor. With their successful blend of storytelling and scientific reporting, the Bocks make the reader curious to learn more about this little-known land." H. RONALD PULLIAM, Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia