Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface to the Princeton Science Library Edition

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pp. ix-x

Since Marston Bates wrote The Nature of Natural History in 1950, there have been intellectual revolutions in natural history and in the neighboring sciences. Continental drift has become established as a fact of earth's history, underscoring the importance of unique historical events in evolution. ...

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I. The Science of Natural History

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pp. 1-8

There is a temptation to start a book with some grand phrase, some broad statement that will lead the reader on into the details of the text. The movie people often use such a device, starting with the camera aimed at an immensity of sky and clouds, lowering it to make a sweep across a wide landscape of forests and fields until one village is picked out, one street, one house. ...

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II. The Naming of Organisms

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pp. 9-22

Charles Elton has remarked that there is little use in making observations on an animal unless you know its name. The first step in a survey of natural history, then, should be the acquisition of some familiarity with the system of names and the system of classification, with the word equipment used by naturalists. ...

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III. The Catalogue of Nature

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pp. 23-41

It is usually estimated that about a million species of organisms have been described and given names. No one can make more than a rough guess as to how much progress this represents toward the goal of getting all of the kinds of organisms named. In a few groups, like the birds, almost all of the very distinct kinds have surely been found and catalogued. ...

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IV. The History of Organisms

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pp. 42-55

The Museum of Comparative Zoology, at Harvard, was a fine building for its day; but now it is perhaps best characterized as a firetrap. It houses the accumulated hoardings of many naturalists, an irreplaceable treasure of biological materials. Consequently every precaution is taken to be sure that its firetrap possibilities are not realized. ...

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V. Reproduction

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pp. 56-71

The fossil record, however imperfect, thus gives a clear outline of the slow development of life on this planet, from the now formless accumulations of carbon in the Pre-Cambrian rocks to the extraordinarily diverse types of organisms that populate the contemporary scene. ...

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VI. The Development of the Individual

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pp. 72-89

Every child is fascinated by the problem of the caterpillar and the butterfly. But most of us, as we grow up, forget these things and become absorbed in matters of consequence. Scientists form one group of individuals in whom childish traits persist: for the adult scientist still wonders about the problem of the caterpillar and the butterfly. ...

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VII. The Environment

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pp. 90-105

Natural history is often considered to be more or less equivalent to the special science of ecology; and ecology, in turn, is generally defined as "the study of organisms in relation to their environment." Environmental relations, then, form the essential core of natural history, which we have been approaching in a leisurely and roundabout way. ...

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VIII. Biotic Communities

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pp. 106-121

I have been trying to think about an organism living alone, in isolation. It is not an easy condition to imagine, but perhaps the attempt will make a good start toward understanding the interdependence of organisms in communities. ...

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IX. Partnership and Cooperation

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pp. 122-136

Scientists and philosophers have long been impressed with the competitive, the antagonistic relations among organisms. These are more obvious, more striking than the cooperative relations, which result in the mutual dependence among the members of the biotic community described in the last chapter. ...

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X. Parasitism

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pp. 137-154

A parasite, in the broadest sense, is any organism that lives at the expense of another. Yet when we use the word, we usually have reference to a much more special sort of phenomenon, to an intimate association between two different kinds of organisms whereby one has come to depend completely on the other for sustenance. ...

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XI. The Behavior of Individuals

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pp. 155-168

The consideration of parasitism, predation, symbiosis and other intra-communal relations among organisms leads naturally to a consideration of the dynamics of population relations, to a review of the behavior of populations. But before taking up this subject, I think it would be well to insert a chapter on the behavior of individuals ...

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XII. The Behavior of Populations

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pp. 169-186

At first sight it seems a little odd to write of the behavior of populations. A population is unlikely to be dancing a waltz or climbing a tree or to be found making love to another population. Yet neither is a population a fixed, static thing. Any population grows, develops relations with other populations and with the physical environment: ...

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XIII. Biological Geography

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pp. 187-203

In my first outline, this chapter was headed the "geography of populations", as a sort of logical extension of the discussion of population behavior. I still like the sound of that title, but it would be misleading, because I want to discuss not only the geography of populations, but that of higher groups, ...

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XIV. Adaptations

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pp. 204-221

To adapt, Webster says, is "to make suitable; to fit; to adjust". Adaptation in its biological sense, according to this same dictionary, is "modification of an animal or plant (or of its parts or organs) fitting it more perfectly for existence under the conditions of its environment". It is thus a pretty broad word, both useful and much used in biology. ...

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XV. The Mechanism of Evolution

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pp. 222-237

Most books on evolution take up a lot of space with the review of the evidence that some process of evolution has taken place. There is no more question of this among contemporary scientists than there is of the relative movements of the planets within the solar system—once also a hotly disputed point. ...

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XVI. Natural History and Human Economy

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pp. 238-251

This account of evolution completes the sketch of the subject matter of natural history. We have discussed the naming and cataloguing of organisms; their reproduction and development; their relations with the environment and their organization into populations and communities; and finally, their evolution, the explanation of the diversity of organic form and of its fitness or adaptation. ...

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XVII. The Natural History of Naturalists

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pp. 252-267

Naturalists are the causative organisms of natural history. One might, in fact, view natural history as a sort of secretion of naturalists—science as a secretion of scientists—and such a view makes clear the importance of studying naturalists (or scientists) in any attempt to gain an understanding of natural history (or science). ...

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XVIII. Tactics, Strategy and the Goal

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pp. 268-284

Alan Gregg, the director for medical sciences of the Rockefeller Foundation, has made a distinction between tactics and strategy in medical research—a distinction that seems to me to have general application in science. "Strategy," he said, "is the art of deciding when and on what one will engage his strength, ...

Appendix I: The Literature of Natural History

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pp. 285-298

Appendix II: The Recent Literature of Natural History

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pp. 299-310

Index

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pp. 311-321