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News from the Hilltop

Dec. 4, 2013

BSC biology professor publishes groundbreaking book on state's natural history

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—A Birmingham-Southern College professor has released a landmark book that explores Alabama's amazing flora and fauna—a publication renowned biologist E.O. Wilson called "one of the most important books ever written about Alabama."Southern Wonder: Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity

With accessible prose and 132 beautiful color illustrations, "Southern Wonder: Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity," by Dr. R. Scot Duncan, associate professor of biology at Birmingham-Southern College, introduces the wide-ranging geology, ecology, and plants and animals that make up the state's natural heritage. Alabama ranks fifth in the nation in the number of species found in the state—more than most other states in the U.S. Since 2000, 76 new species have been discovered in the state.

"This is the book I wanted to read when I moved to Alabama more than ten years ago," said Duncan, whose current research focuses on the stream ecology of the Cahaba River and Black Warrior River watersheds, the dolomite glades of Bibb County, and montane longleaf pine forests. "I want the state's residents and visitors to better appreciate and understand why Alabama is so amazing in terms of its biodiversity."

"Southern Wonder," published by the University of Alabama Press, takes readers on a journey from the coastal dunes of the Gulf of Mexico to the Tennessee River Valley and introduces some of the 144 species found only in Alabama, including the Alabama cave fish and the beach mouse. It examines habitats from swamp forests and rolling dunes to elaborate subterranean ecosystems. The Nature Conservancy donated $20,000 to help support the printing.

Though teeming with life, Alabama is not widely appreciated as a refuge for plants and animals. Duncan rectifies this situation and champions conservation in "Southern Wonder" by interweaving ecology, meteorology, and geology into a cohesive whole. The general public, libraries, policy makers, teachers, and nature enthusiasts will treasure this one-of-a-kind publication.

Advance Praise for Southern Wonder:

"Scot Duncan has delivered one of the most important books ever written about Alabama. Beautifully composed, it is a revelation about one of the most biologically diverse regions in North America and a call to Alabama's people to treasure and protect the state's living heritage."
--Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Social Conquest of Earth"

About Birmingham-Southern College:

Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls about 1,200 students from more than 30 states and 16 foreign countries. Learn more online at www.bsc.edu.