Animal Life in the Yosemite
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The national parks of America render as their most important service a full free opportunity to all who will to find in them a complete recreation, physical, mental, esthetic. In performing this service the animal life existing within their borders constitutes a valuable asset. For the best recreative forces in nature are those which serve most quickly to call into play latent or seldom used faculties of mind and body whose exercise tends to restore to normal balance the human mechanism that has been disturbed by special or artificial conditions of living. Foremost among these forces are the living things that move and utter sounds, exhibit color and changing form, and by these qualities readily attract and fix our interest. To seek acquaintance with those primal objects of interest is to know the joy of vigorous muscular activity; better still, it is to realize the possession of the generally neglected senses of far-seeing and far-hearing, and to invite an esthetic appeal of the highest type and an intellectual stimulus of infinite resource.

Of the thousands who each year visit the Yosemite Valley and its environs, a certain proportion are already interested in natural history; and anyone who leaves the region without gathering some definite knowledge of its natural history has failed to get adequate gain from his opportunities. The geology, topography, and botany of the Yosemite have been studied with some care; and there are instructive and stimulating manuals available dealing with these subjects. But heretofore only a few brief accounts have appeared in print concerning the bird life of the region, and practically nothing has been made available regarding its mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. It was in an effort to supply this deficiency that a survey of the vertebrate natural history of the Yosemite region was undertaken by the California Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. The present volume deals with the results of that survey.

The principal objects in view in undertaking the survey were: To find out what species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians exist, or have within modern times existed, in the circumscribed area selected for study; to learn as much as possible concerning the local distribution of each of these species, and to map out the general life areas within the region; to learn as much as time permitted of the food relations, the breeding habits, and the behavior, individually, of each of the species; and finally to put all this information on permanent record, in a form accessible to, and generally assimilable by, the public, both lay and scientific.

In attempting the achievement of this last aim the authors have brought together their materials with every precaution to insure accuracy of fact and correctness of inference. No sacrifice of precision has been made consciously with the end merely of affording 'attractive reading.' At the same time, technical terms, where the same ideas could be expressed in words familiar to every reader of fair education, have been avoided. Ideally, we have tried to present our science, perfectly good science, in straightforward, readable form.


BERKELEY, July 6, 1922.


Animal Life in the Yosemite
©1924, University of California Press
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology

grinnell/preface.htm — 19-Jan-2006