I read fiction. I read history. I don't read science. Except now, I do. With grace and wit and precision and passion, THE SPINE OF THE CONTINENT, by MaryEllen Hannibal, fully engages the reader in the Herculean challenges of conservation biology. In introducing her readers to a landscape populated by scientists, beavers, microbes, forests and powerfully engaged private citizens, Hannibal makes us feel the profound connection within, and between, the ecosystems of the American west. She writes, "An ecosystem is equally microcosmic and macrocosmic. For example, a rotting log is an ecosystem in which energy is flowing through growth and decomposition, predation and reproduction, as microbes, fungi, bugs, birds, plants, and animals partake in natures' ongoing rave." Gorgeous. THE SPINE OF THE CONTINENT'S advocacy for "large landscape connectivity" has my full attention.