The Natural History of Beavers and their Ponds
Finalist for the 2015 Lane Anderson Award for the Best in Canadian Science Writing - Adult category
Few animals in the world are as famous or as infamous as the beaver, and none save our species has the ability to so dramatically transform its environment. Beavers are remarkable animals. They have teeth that self-sharpen and never stop growing, and a heart that slows down and valves that close in their ears and noses when they dive. Their tail is the most multi-purpose of any animal on this planet; in addition to communication its many functions include serving as an air conditioner in summer and a food pantry in winter. This book is a comprehensive overview of the lives of beavers and the habitats that arise from their actions. It is a visual extravaganza: approximately 400 photographs provide intimate insights into the lives of beavers and the inhabitants of their ponds and related habitats. Many new observations and rarely seen moments — such as beavers fighting — are documented in it. Michael Runtz is one of Canada’s most highly respected naturalists, nature photographers, and natural history authors.
"This weighty record showing 30 years of beaver watching is definitely worth the wait. I received my courtesy copy from the publisher Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd. last week, and have been engrossed ever since. Everything about this book is impressive: its stunning photographs, gripping account of little known beaver details, and its truly classy lay out, right down to the beaver silhouetted page number in the corner. (I had a good friend who was a copy editor at Random House and I know how much work pulling these details together can be. ) I had prepared myself to be impressed, and was not disappointed. What I hadn't prepared for was to be surprised. After nearly 10 years in the beaver biz, reading and writing about them daily, and viewing them regularly at very close quarters, I pretty much thought I had heard and seen it all. Michael Runtz' book was still filled with gloriously unexpected treasures. . . "
— www. martinezbeavers. org
"With stunning photographs throughout, this extraordinary book may seem more suited for the coffee table than an academic bookshelf. But the photographs do more than simply illustrate the text—they tell the story of beavers visually and powerfully, bearing witness to engineering marvels that result in complex ecosystems that benefit both beavers and other species. The accompanying text, admittedly sparse relative to the photographs, is just as important and earns the book respect as an academic resource. Runtz (Carleton Univ. , Canada) acknowledges that he is a naturalist, not a research biologist. But his bias as a naturalist who admires the beaver for its ecological role and skill for altering the landscape does not lessen the volume's value, which is a "blend of gleanings from . .. scientific literature" and Runtz's personal observations. The familiar tone of the prose draws readers into beavers' watery world. Dozens of other species—birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, mammals, flora—are considered as co-inhabitants of beaver constructed ecosystems, and the author examines beavers' impact on the human built world.
— Choice Magazine
"This book is a comprehensive overview of the lives of beavers and the habitats that arise from their actions. It is a visual extravaganza: approximately 400 photographs provide intimate insights into the lives of beavers and the inhabitants of their ponds and related habitats. Many new observations and rarely seen moments — such as beavers fighting — are documented in it.
— Canada's History Magazine