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Life in the Cold: An Introduction to Winter Ecology

Peter J. Marchand
University Press of New England
Publication Date: 

Fourth edition, paper, 305 pp., $29.95.

A perfect book for this polar vortexed winter, this guide provides a very suitable and accessible overview of different strategies by animals, plants, and humans in surviving and even thriving in the coldest and driest parts of the year. Nine chapters treat the broad strategies of migration, hibernation, and resistance to winter’s cruelties. Many readers will find some of their most basic assumptions about plants and animals forever altered by Marchand’s clear explanations of physiological and other phenomena. For example, many assume that evergreens are able to continuously photosynthesize through the winter, by virtue of their name! Instead, many conifers completely shut down these processes when temperatures plunge below freezing. A variety of complex processes take over to protect chlorophyll from solar radiation, preserving important biochemical processes for the first signs of spring. Those conifers that find their branches buried in snow actually enjoy some benefits, from higher levels of carbon dioxide and the penetrating power of light through snowpack. This charming book will change many ideas about winter and life, demonstrating the diverse means to manage time between the winter solstice and vernal equinox.
— Edward Valauskas, curator of Rare Books, Chicago Botanic Garden