Swanson co-author of book on Nevada’s changing range

By Kayla Johnson

Dr. Sherm Swanson, Dept of Natural Resources & Env. Science "Nevada's Changing Wildlife Habitat" is the first book of its kind to explain the transformations in the plants and animals of the Nevada region. The book by George E. Gruell and Sherman Swanson focuses on wildlife habitats and how they have changed through pre-history and history.

The idea for the book came from Gruell's interest in the history of wildlife habitats. He would view photographs to see how areas that he was familiar with had changed. He would then find those locations and retake the photograph, learning a great deal about wildlife habitat in the process.

Swanson, a range and riparian specialist for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada, Reno, was asked by Gruell, a retired wildlife biologist, to review a book chapter. Swanson saw opportunities to make the book even better and became a co-author. "

George and I agreed philosophically on the issues," Swanson said. "We have both observed many of the same phenomena."

The book highlights the problems that Nevada's landscapes face. One issue is cheatgrass, an invasive plant that has displaced native vegetation. Its flammability greatly increased fire frequency in some areas. The second is that Nevada doesn't have enough fire in other areas.

"Nevada has failed to allow the restorative process of fire and that has led to an accumulation of fuel, a change in vegetation structure and therefore a change in wildlife habitats," Swanson said.

The book also gives an in-depth look at Nevada's livestock grazing, mining and woodcutting influences, riparian ecology, plant succession and climate, as well as providing strategies to improve Nevada's wildlife habitats.

Swanson enjoyed co-authoring the book.

"It was a good project," Swanson said." It was enjoyable to get Gruell's story out in a good form and it was an honor to work with someone who has a distinguished career."

"Nevada's Changing Wildlife Habitat" can be purchased at UNR Press, Nevada Wolf Shop, Amazon.com, Sundance Bookstore and from members of the Student Range Club at UNR.