Although there is a wonderful murder mystery by Agatha Christie by the same title, I’m here to talk about the work by wildlife biologist Paul R. Krausman.
And Then There Were None: The Demise of Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness is geared around a specific population of bighorn sheep that disappeared from a wilderness area adjacent to the city of Tucson, AZ.
If you are like me and love the Southwest and are generally interested in desert biology, this book is a pretty brilliant read. Not only does Krausman pack in a sophisticated story of management and biology with a succinct narrative, he does it with a minimum of jargon (there is still some, sometimes it is hard to get around). Although more geared to biologists and managers, this work can be read by a general audience that is interested in the subject.
And if you are one of the biologists or managers this book was geared towards, it is not only an interesting read, but a blueprint for how to proceed. Although geared towards large mammals, there is an underlying structure that should be of use to any imperiled mammal. By addressing the story of a specific population, Krausman has actually made it easier to find common links with any other species and populations compared to if he had tried to be polemic. It is also a wonderful collection of citations for those interested in any specific area, you could find what you need to get started on your own research.
In the book he addresses the biology, the historical (sometimes mis-) management, and the lessons learned for what we assume today to be our best working knowledge. He strongly draws on the peer-reviewed and grey literature to make his case, as well as interviewing other prominent bighorn biologists. He argues for structured decision making, wide and diverse stakeholder involvement, and inclusion of evolution in wildlife research and management. It is also a very interesting read for urban ecologists as it deals with large mammals and urban influences on species persistence.
It’s a pretty quick read and worth the time. If I had the extra cash for a copy I would get it. As it is, I am returning my copy to the library tomorrow. It’s well worth checking out (library pun!).