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Into the Night

Into the Night: Tales of Nocturnal Wildlife Expeditions

Edited by Rick A. Adams
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Into the Night
    Book Description:

    This entertaining collection of essays from professional scientists and naturalists provides an enlightening look at the lives of field biologists with a passion for the hidden world of nocturnal wildlife. Into the Night explores the harrowing, fascinating, amusing, and largely unheard personal experiences of scientists willing to forsake the safety of daylight to document the natural history of these uniquely adapted animals. Contributors tell of confronting North American bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes; suffering red ctenid spider bites in the tropical rain forest; swimming through layers of feeding-frenzied hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos; evading the wrath of African bull elephants in South Africa; and delighting in the curious and gentle nature of foxes and unconditional acceptance by a family of owls. They describe "fire in the sky" across a treeless tundra, a sea ablaze with bioluminescent algae, nighttime earthquakes on the Pacific Rim, and hurricanes and erupting volcanoes on a Caribbean island. Into the Night reveals rare and unexpected insights into nocturnal field research, illuminating experiences, discoveries, and challenges faced by intrepid biologists studying nature's nightly marvels across the globe. This volume will be of interest to scientists and general readers alike.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-270-2
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Rick A. Adams
  4. ONE Waiting for Long-eared Owls
    (pp. 1-18)
    Stephen R. Jones

    I spent my first night at Pine Lake, a peaceful oasis in the Nebraska Sandhills, twenty years ago. I pitched my blue dome tent in a hillside grove of ponderosa pines, where I could gaze out across the water to the empty grass-covered dunes that rolled and tumbled toward the eastern horizon.

    At first glance the mile-wide lake seemed somewhat forlorn, with its murky, leach-infested water, surrounded by rickety red picnic tables scattered across patches of mowed pasture grass and aromatic outhouses buzzing with oversized flies. The hills west of the lake sprouted plantation rows of midsize pines and red...

  5. TWO African Nights among Fruit Bats, Fig Trees, and Elephants
    (pp. 19-40)
    Frank J. Bonaccorso

    Imagine you are in a car in the blackness of night in wildest South Africa. The engine is off, and you and your companions sit quietly. You peer out of the window at the dead-end dirt road ahead. You hear grunts, howls, roars, snorts, and other animal noises from the direction of nearby Shingwedzi River. You hear branches snapping. Suddenly an ear-piercing, trumpet-like shriek raises goose bumps all over your body and your hair stands on end. You are aware this region is known for large and dangerous animals, including lions, leopards, Nile crocodiles, African buffalo, white rhino, and spitting...

  6. THREE Undersea at Night in Darwin’s Galapagos
    (pp. 41-70)
    Christina Allen

    We descend into the sea as a group, shivering and holding hands and looking at each other like deer in headlights. It occurs to me, as I’m sure it occurs to each of the group members: Why on earth are we doing this? I think that we have finally gone too far. I wonder, When did we cross the line separating daring from stupidity? When the headlines come out, our effort will be seen for what it is: “Divers bait feeding sharks with their own bodies at night.” I feel like a worm on a hook and can feel hungry...

  7. FOUR Chasing Nightly Marvels in the Rocky Mountains
    (pp. 71-98)
    Rick A. Adams

    Dusk. Kate and I are hiking into the eastern foothills of the Southern Rocky Mountains. As shadows lengthen, the woods begin to come alive with animals accustomed to working the night shift. A towering thunderhead lights up and bellows above, momentarily spinning dusk back to familiar day. But darkness is winning the hour. From a distance, a nocturnal bird awakes from its diurnal slumber and calls out its name into the night air: poor-will, poor-will, poor-will.

    Although we have hiked on this trail on many evenings, I admire its beauty as if it were the first time. The trail parallels...

  8. FIVE Nights on the Equator
    (pp. 99-120)
    Ann Kohlhaas

    Bzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzz.

    A common sound in the tropical night. Too common. Much too common. Actually, too common anywhere. At least according to everyone I know, or have ever met, or anyone sane.


    Mosquitoes seem to be the bane of everyone who spends time outdoors. Especially in the tropics. Especially at night.

    The ecologist in me should defend mosquitoes as part of the greater food web, as essential food for many others. But no. The all-too-human person in me resents the sleep lost, the itchy bumps, and the diseases mosquitoes have already transmitted and will gladly, although unwittingly, transmit in...

  9. SIX Do Not Go Gentle into That Tropical Night
    (pp. 121-134)
    Lee Dyer

    I have always been afraid of the dark. So not only is it ironic that I work at night a great deal, it is also odd that I work in the dim dank understory of tropical forests. Despite the numerous gaps, edges, rivers, and clearings, it always seems dark in the rainforest, where the green walls press in on all sides. Nights in those green cages offer a special brand of lightless energy—something more than a simple word like dark can manage to capture. It is true that the small details of life that I like to study are...

  10. SEVEN Nights: From South to North, Hot to Cold
    (pp. 135-166)
    James C. Halfpenny

    It was darker than a black desert night in Texas. There was a new moon, thick clouds, and my AA-battery ultraviolet light shed a beach ball–sized circle of light. Beyond the light’s reach, I heard it: the fast rattling buzz of a black-tailed rattlesnake.

    When I started this project, I had purchased the finest of rattlesnake-proof chaps. At this moment, I considered the construction of these chaps, which cover neither your crotch nor your backside. Chaps work great when you are standing, but if you’re crawling on hands and knees, as I was doing, both your butt and your...

  11. EIGHT Volcanoes and Fruit Bats: Fear and Loafing on Montserrat
    (pp. 167-190)
    Scott C. Pedersen

    The volcano had been grumbling for several hours, rolling great glowing boulders down the flanks of its steep slopes in my general direction. It was July 1997 and I was nearing the end of a very long night after a very long day. I tried not to take any of this too personally as the volcano was nearly two miles away. Still I was mesmerized. Standing there in the dark, engulfed by a near-deafening chorus of tree frogs, watching gigantic embers crashing down the mountainside, showers of sparks and debris marking each collision—I had a front-row seat at a...

  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 191-194)