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Michael A. Mares: 1945—: Mammologist, Field Biologist

Wrote Field Narratives While Teaching

What also sets Mares apart from other scientists is his lively and engaging writing style. The author constructed A Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding Landscape to be both informative and descriptive of his field experience, but the book also succeeded in being entertaining and autobiographical. His tales of both the hardships and rewards of field work prove his worth as a storyteller, as well as a scientist. Mares "paints amazing portraits" of desert animals and the ways they have adapted to survive, according to Science News. Tim Markus of Library Journal elaborated: "It is a testament to his love of biology and his abilities as a writer that he is able to convey the excitement that accompanies the discovery of a new species after surviving the numerous hardships of extended field-work."

"Field narratives have certain conventions," Gould observed in his foreword, "and Mares follows them there, but with a verbal freshness (and a fine sense for a good yarn) that will delight even the most sophisticated urbanite." Of the two major requirements of the field-narrative genre, Gould continued, "one must first tell terrific stories about animals—as Mares does again and again. Second, one must relate the tales of danger, biting bugs, venomous snakes, near drowning, strandings in the desert, and meetings with weird and dangerous people—the occasional but inevitable incidents that no one really loves when they are happening, but that more than repay the debt in the pleasure of later telling." Mares is also the author of more than 155 articles, as well as reviews, lectures, addresses, grants, and contracts. He has served as editor of numerous books and scientific publications.

In addition to his research work in barren desert environments, Mares has spent his career thoroughly entrenched in academia. A string of assistant and associate professorships led to his title as distinguished research professor in the department of zoology at the University of Oklahoma. Mares also is distinguished research curator for the University-affiliated Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, a post he took in 2003 after stepping down as the museum's director.

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