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Dam Builders: The Natural History of Beavers and Their Ponds Paperback – 28 Mar 2016


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About the Author

Michael Runtz has been an avid birdwatcher since the age of five and has worked as an interpretive naturalist in Algonquin Provincial and Point Pelee National parks, hosted an international television series Wild by Nature, authored 10 natural history books, and written more than 1,000 newspaper and magazine natural history articles. Michael teaches Natural History and Ornithology courses at Carleton University where his highly visual teaching style continues to attract record enrolments (to date more than 41,000 students have taken Natural History). Michael has received numerous awards including the Council of Canadian University Biology Chairs Distinguished Public Science Education Award and the Carleton University Lifetime Achievement Award. A popular keynote speaker and a regular guest on radio and television, Michael was the only Canadian featured in the TVO/NHK Japan 2001 Superteachers series that profiled such notables as Jane Goodall and Nelson Mandella.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars and was not disappointed. Michael Runtz's book was still filled with gloriously ... 23 July 2015
By Heidi Perryman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This weighty record showing 30 years of beaver watching is definitely worth the wait.

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 prepared myself to be impressed, and was not disappointed.

Michael Runtz's book was still filled with gloriously unexpected treasures. From the amazing photograph of a beaver floating on its back (yes you read that right, not a sea otter, I swear, he speculates he might be picking a splinter from its teeth with its rear toe) to the exciting collection of facts about their lives, (did you know that when beavers breathe they replaces a whopping 75% of the oxygen in their lungs? Compared to the paltry human rate of 15%!) or that beaver tails in colder climates actually look different in the fall than the spring, depending on how much fat content they’ve lost from it over the winter?

If some of the photos seem vaguely familiar they should, Runtz supplied his stills to Jari Osborne’s Beaver Documentary (Beaver Whisperer in Canada, and Nature’s “Leave it to Beaver” in America). My favorite chapters were those documenting beaver effects. First a lovely one showing the biodiversity that blooms in beaver ponds, with beautiful macro photography of gnats, insects, dragonflies, to featherlight photos of birds and water fowl, to richly-textured images of otter and moose you can practically feel. Then a beautifully solemn one about what happens to the trees beavers kill by flooding. (Showing excellent homes for a variety of woodpeckers, wood duck and blue heron). And finally a chapter on the pond’s “afterlife”, what happens when the pond silts up and beavers move on, as the flora take over and the fauna shift accordingly with the flourishing nutrient exchange.

With over 200 pages containing stunning photos from one end to the other, this is a book you will look at again and again. I anticipated and missed a forward from some smart researcher like Glynnis Hood or Dietland Muller-Swarze, talking about why his photos are invaluable, but maybe this book isn’t trying to prove that beavers have value. It just shows you that they’re ‘worth a dam’ without ever saying it.

Heidi Perryman, Ph.D.
President Worth A Dam
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Shelf Natural History Book for All 10 Jan. 2016
By DrBobGP - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a professional wildlife biologist/researcher and park naturalist, I found Dam Builders to be the most amazingly photographed life history of the American Beaver ever written. The author, himself a naturalist and wildlife photographer, has followed this amazing creature for more than 30 years in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park to produce this stunningly illustrated natural history of the "mammal that built a continent". Gently written yet entirely factual, the book is an easy read if one can look away from the stunning photography long enough to do so. It holds a "top shelf" location in my own extensive natural history library. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Fantastic photos 9 Sept. 2015
By James Gilmour - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book! Fantastic photos. All you could possibly want to know about beavers.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful picture book 26 Jan. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful picture book. And, I am learning a lot about the beavers. Since we have a large beaver dam close to our house, it is
important to know more about them.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 23 Jun. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love the pictures!
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