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The Biology of Small Mammals

Joseph F. Merritt

Publication Date
Binding Type

2010 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

The Biology of Small Mammals is the first exploration of the lives of small mammals undertaken in decades. Mammalogist Joseph F. Merritt offers an engaging, in-depth discussion about a diverse array of small mammals, from the rare Kitti’s hog-nosed bat of Southeast Asia to the bizarre aye-aye of Madagascar to the familiar woodchuck of North America.

Small mammals include those mammals weighing under five kilograms (approximately eleven pounds). Merritt introduces the various species that fall under this heading, then follows with chapters that...

2010 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

The Biology of Small Mammals is the first exploration of the lives of small mammals undertaken in decades. Mammalogist Joseph F. Merritt offers an engaging, in-depth discussion about a diverse array of small mammals, from the rare Kitti’s hog-nosed bat of Southeast Asia to the bizarre aye-aye of Madagascar to the familiar woodchuck of North America.

Small mammals include those mammals weighing under five kilograms (approximately eleven pounds). Merritt introduces the various species that fall under this heading, then follows with chapters that cover such topics as behavior, modes of feeding, locomotion, habitat use, reproduction, and coping with heat loss.

Animals of this size face different physiological and ecological challenges than larger mammals. Merritt describes in rich detail how mammals across the globe have adapted to compensate for their small stature, showing how they contribute to and survive in diverse environments in many fascinating ways. For example, arctic foxes, weighing just 3 to 4.3 kilograms, are champion survivors in the cold. They cope with their harsh environs by decreasing activity, seeking shelter in temporary dens and snow burrows, growing a lush winter fur, and undergoing complex physiological changes to insulate themselves from chilling temperatures.

Beautifully illustrated throughout, The Biology of Small Mammals provides a valuable and updated reference on nature’s more diminutive creatures.

Reviews

Reviews

Any college-level natural history library needs this survey.

Highly recommended.

Utilizing fossil records and extant small mammals, the author provides an interesting look into their physical make up and way of life.

Where Dr. Merritt’s book shines and separates itself from other mammalogy books is when he adds the details, examples, and colorful commentary allowing readers to share his passion and enthusiasm for small mammals... Dr. Merritt manages to keep these passages both rigorous and entertaining, the true mark of a fine teacher.

Merritt writes with evident enthusiasm for his subject, he is impressively up to date on most topics, and the book is copiously illustrated.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
336
ISBN
9780801879500
Illustration Description
63 b&w photos, 13 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
What Is a Small Mammal?
Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Small Mammal
The Protagonists
Monotremes and Marsupials
Afrosoricida, Erinaceomorpha, Soricomorpha

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
What Is a Small Mammal?
Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Small Mammal
The Protagonists
Monotremes and Marsupials
Afrosoricida, Erinaceomorpha, Soricomorpha, Macroscelidea, Scandentia, and Dermoptera
Chiroptera
Primates
Carnivora
Rodentia
Lagomorpha
Hyracoidea
Part I: Modes of Feeding
2. Insectivory
General Characteristics
Dilambdodont Dentition
Terrestrial Insectivores
Venomous Saliva
Long, Protrusile Tongue
Arboreal Insectivores
Elongated Digits
Semiaquatic and Fossorial Insectivores
Sensory Mucous Glands
Eimer's Organs
Underwater Sniffing
Subterranean Insectivores
Seismic Sensitivity
Aerial Insectivores
Wings
Echolocation
3. Herbivory
General Characteristics
Ever-Growing Incisors
Coprophagy
Granivores
Food Hoarding
Cheek Pouches
Frugivores
Piercing Teeth
Prehensile Tail and Protrusile Tongue
Nectarivores
Brush-Tipped Tongue
Gummivores
Folivores
Foregut versus Hindgut Fermentation
Gliding Membranes and Pectinate Teeth
Case Study: Rock Badgers: Gutsy Cliff-Dwellers
4. Carnivory
General Characteristics
Carnassial Teeth
Flesh-Eating Carnivores
Felids
Mustelids
Canids
Piscivores
Claws, Cheek Pouches, and a Sixth Finger
Sanguinivores
Knifelike Teeth and Heat-Sensitive Nasal Pits
5. Omnivory
Omnivorous Carnivores
Procyonids
Herpestids
Viverrids
Euplerids
Case Studies: The Hero Shrew: Mysterious Insectivore
Dietary Nonconformists
Gleaning, Hawking, Hovering, and Perch-Hunting
Part II: Environmental Adaptations
6. Endothermy
7. Heterothermy
Torpor
Hibernation
8. Coping with Cold
Insulatory Changes
Countercurrent Heat Exchange: The Miraculous Net
Reduced Level of Activity
Reduction of Body Mass (Dehnel's Phenomenon)
Fat Tails
Social Thermoregulation
Increased Heat Production
9. Coping with Heat and Aridity
Conserving Water
Dietary Water Intake
Evaporative Cooling
Sweating, Panting, and Saliva Spreading
Respiratory Heat Exchange
Pelage Insulation
Behavioral Avoidance of Heat
10. Ecogeographic Rules
Modified Size of Appendages (Allen's Rule)
Seasonal Color Dimorphism (Gloger's Rule)
Body Mass and Latitude (Bergmann's Rule)
Case Studies: Communal Nesting
Hedgehogs: Spiny Hibernators
Part III: Reproduction
11. Reproductive Variations
Delayed Fertilization
Delayed Implantation
Delayed Development
Embryonic Diapause
12. Mating Systems and Reproductive Strategies
High Fecundity
Monogamy, Housekeeping, and Mate Guarding
Absentee Maternal Care
Lek Behavior
Eusociality
Semelparity: Breeding and Sudden Death
13. Population Cycles: Lemmings and Snowshoes Hares
Appendix: Useful Web Sites
Glossary
References
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Joseph F. Merritt, Ph.D.

Joseph F. Merritt is a professor of zoology at the University of Illinois and the author of Guide to the Mammals of Pennsylvania and Biology of Small Mammals.