Richness and Rarity: The Natural History of Lucas County

A rich natural history may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you consider Toledo, Ohio’s fourth-largest city after Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. Toledo’s urban sprawl dominates the central portion of Lucas County, but the city is flanked to the east by extensive marshes along the Lake Erie shoreline, to the south and southwest by the Maumee River, and to the west and northwest by the Oak Openings, which are home to more rare and endangered animals and plants than any other area in the Buckeye State.

Richness and Rarity: The Natural History of Lucas County, is written by Elliot Tramer, who retired in 2007 after a 30-year career as a natural historian and biology professor at the University of Toledo. Dr. Tramer’s concise, easy-to-understand text is accompanied by more than 135 superb color photographs taken by Art Weber, who served as a publicity manager and photographer for several decades at Metroparks Toledo, before retiring to pursue a second career as a freelance photographer and writer. Equally adept in scenic, wildlife, and macro photography, Art Weber has an intimate knowledge of the landscapes, lighting, plants and animals of Lucas County and nearby natural areas. One of my favorite images is Art’s dramatic sunset, shown below, at Howard Marsh, a restored wetland adjacent to Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area in nearby Ottawa County.      

Elliot Tramer’s text is supplemented by short essays from 19 contributors, covering topics that include geology and soils, Native Americans, early European settlement, fungi, reptiles and amphibians, the Oak Openings, and conservation challenges in Lucas County, notably harmful algal  blooms and invasive species. Janet Traub and James Toppin, fellow moss and lichen aficionados and members of the Ohio Moss & Lichen Association (OMLA), contribute an essay on mosses, lichens, liverworts and hornworts, and Rick Nirschl, who has an uncanny ability to discover and photograph new local species of odonata, contributes essays on the dragonflies and damselflies of the Lake Erie Shoreline and Marshes, the Maumee River, and the Oak Openings.  

The 206-page book includes information on natural areas to visit in Lucas County, local natural history organizations, useful references, and an index. 

Richness and Rarity: The Natural History of Lucas County is available for $39.95 from the University of Toledo Press 

My thanks to Art Weber and Karen Pugh for helping me obtain a review copy of this fine book.



This Post Has One Comment

  1. Great review of Art’s book, Ian.

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