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Distributed for University of Alaska Press

Land of Extremes

A Natural History of the Arctic North Slope of Alaska

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

Land of Extremes

A Natural History of the Arctic North Slope of Alaska

This book is a comprehensive guide to the natural history of the North Slope, the only arctic tundra in the United States. The first section provides detailed information on climate, geology, landforms, and ecology. The second provides a guide to the identification and natural history of the common animals and plants and a primer on the human prehistory of the region from the Pleistocene through the mid-twentieth century. The appendix provides the framework for a tour of the natural history features along the Dalton Highway, a road connecting the crest of the Brooks Range with Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean, and includes mile markers where travelers may safely pull off to view geologic formations, plants, birds, mammals, and fish. Featuring hundreds of illustrations that support the clear, authoritative text, Land of Extremes reveals the arctic tundra as an ecosystem teeming with life.


311 pages | 620 color plates, 4 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2012

Biological Sciences: Ecology

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“Well researched and well written, without heavy use of scientific jargon, and beautifully illustrated with color photographs. This is far more than a standard guide to the area. . . . Highly recommended.” 


“Superbly illustrated with color photography throughout, Land of Extremes: A Natural History of the Arctic North Slope of Alaska is informed, informative, a seminal work of impressive scope and scholarship.”

Library Bookwatch

“An admirable introduction to the ecology of the contemporary circumpolar north.”

Conservation Biology

“The most successful source book that I know of for an introduction to the natural history of Alaska’s northernmost terrestrial and aquatic regional systems. That is, its materials provide natural history students with a reference that abounds with insights into the workings of organisms in our challenging (and challenged) environments.”

David W. Norton, American Polar Society

“This comprehensive account and guide to the biology and natural history of Alaska’s North Slope contains wonderful and authoritative detail of practically every animal and plant species, the geology, and the human history of a fascinating part of Earth. . . . I have been visiting and doing research on the North Slope for twenty-five years, yet I learned something new on almost every page.”

Brian Barnes, Director, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. Bedrock Geology
3. Glacial Geology
4. Permafrost and Patterned Ground
5. Habitats and Ecology
6. Mushroom Madness
7. Lichens
8. Mosses and Liverworts
9. Vascular Plants
10. Invertebrates
11. Fish
12. Reptiles and Amphibians
13. Birds
14. Mammals
15. Human Natural History Through the Mid-Twentieth Century

Appendix: Guide to Natural History Along the Dalton Highway: Atigun Pass to Deadhorse

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