Browse Results For:
Science, Technology, and Mathematics > Ecology
Understanding the mechanisms driving biological diversity remains a central problem in ecology and evolutionary biology. Traditional explanations assume that differences in selection pressures lead to different adaptations in geographically separated locations. This book takes a different approach and explores adaptive diversification--diversification rooted in ecological interactions and frequency-dependent selection. In any ecosystem, birth and death rates of individuals are affected by interactions with other individuals. What is an advantageous phenotype therefore depends on the phenotype of other individuals, and it may often be best to be ecologically different from the majority phenotype. Such rare-type advantage is a hallmark of frequency-dependent selection and opens the scope for processes of diversification that require ecological contact rather than geographical isolation.
Michael Doebeli investigates adaptive diversification using the mathematical framework of adaptive dynamics. Evolutionary branching is a paradigmatic feature of adaptive dynamics that serves as a basic metaphor for adaptive diversification, and Doebeli explores the scope of evolutionary branching in many different ecological scenarios, including models of coevolution, cooperation, and cultural evolution. He also uses alternative modeling approaches. Stochastic, individual-based models are particularly useful for studying adaptive speciation in sexual populations, and partial differential equation models confirm the pervasiveness of adaptive diversification.
Showing that frequency-dependent interactions are an important driver of biological diversity, Adaptive Diversification provides a comprehensive theoretical treatment of adaptive diversification.
Ten Years of Recovery from the Willow Fire
It is the rare observer who has the dedication to revisit the site of a wildfire, especially over many years and seasons. But naturalist John Alcock returned again and again to the Mazatzals, where the disastrous Willow fire of 2004 burned 187 square miles. Documenting the fire’s aftermath over a decade, Alcock thrills at the renewal of the once-blackened region. Walking the South Fork of Deer Creek in all seasons as the years passed, he was rewarded by the sight of exuberant plant life that in turn fostered an equally satisfying return of animals ranging from small insects to large mammals.
Alcock clearly explains the response of chaparral plants to fire and the creatures that reinhabit these plants as they come back from a ferocious blaze: the great spreadwing damselfly, the western meadowlark, the elk, and birds and bugs of rich and colorful varieties. This book is at once a journey of biological discovery and a celebration of the ability of living things to reoccupy a devastated location. Alcock encourages others to engage the natural world—even one that has burnt to the ground.
Ethics, Biopolitics, and Saving the Natural World
Against Ecological Sovereignty is a passionate defense of radical ecology that speaks directly to current debates concerning the nature, and dangers, of sovereign power. Engaging the work of Bataille, Arendt, Levinas, Nancy, and Agamben, among others, Mick Smith reconnects the political critique of sovereign power with ecological considerations, arguing that ethical and political responsibilities for the consequences of our actions do not end with those defined as human.
Against Ecological Sovereignty is the first book to turn Agamben’s analysis of sovereignty and biopolitics toward an investigation of ecological concerns. In doing so it exposes limits to that thought, maintaining that the increasingly widespread biopolitical management of human populations has an unrecognized ecological analogue—reducing nature to a “resource” for human projects. Smith contends that a radical ecological politics must resist both the depoliticizing exercise of sovereign power and the pervasive spread of biopolitics in order to reveal new possibilities for creating healthy human and nonhuman communities.
Presenting a stinging critique of human claims to sovereignty over the natural world, Smith proposes an alternative way to conceive of posthumanist ecological communities—one that recognizes the utter singularity of the beings in them.
History, Science, and the Politics of Uncertainty
Taking on what one former U.S. ambassador called “the last ghost of the Vietnam War,” this book examines the far-reaching impact of Agent Orange, the most infamous of the dioxin-contaminated herbicides used by American forces in Southeast Asia. Edwin A. Martini’s aim is not simply to reconstruct the history of the “chemical war” but to investigate the ongoing controversy over the short- and long-term effects of weaponized defoliants on the environment of Vietnam, on the civilian population, and on the troops who fought on both sides. Beginning in the early 1960s, when Agent Orange was first deployed in Vietnam, Martini follows the story across geographical and disciplinary boundaries, looking for answers to a host of still unresolved questions. What did chemical manufacturers and American policymakers know about the effects of dioxin on human beings, and when did they know it? How much do scientists and doctors know even today? Should the use of Agent Orange be considered a form of chemical warfare? What can, and should, be done for U.S. veterans, Vietnamese victims, and others around the world who believe they have medical problems caused by Agent Orange? Martini draws on military records, government reports, scientific research, visits to contaminated sites, and interviews to disentangle conflicting claims and evaluate often ambiguous evidence. He shows that the impact of Agent Orange has been global in its reach affecting individuals and communities in New Zealand, Australia, Korea, and Canada as well as Vietnam and the United States. Yet for all the answers it provides, this book also reveals how much uncertainty—scientific, medical, legal, and political—continues to surround the legacy of Agent Orange.
Farming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era
The familiar story of the Civil War tells of a predominately agricultural South pitted against a rapidly industrializing North. However, Adam Wesley Dean argues that the Republican Party's political ideology was fundamentally agrarian. Believing that small farms owned by families for generations led to a model society, Republicans supported a northern agricultural ideal in opposition to southern plantation agriculture, which destroyed the land's productivity, required constant western expansion, and produced an elite landed gentry hostile to the Union. Dean shows how agrarian republicanism shaped the debate over slavery's expansion, spurred the creation of the Department of Agriculture and the passage of the Homestead Act, and laid the foundation for the development of the earliest nature parks.
Spanning the long nineteenth century, Dean's study analyzes the changing debate over land development as it transitioned from focusing on the creation of a virtuous and orderly citizenry to being seen primarily as a "civilizing" mission. By showing Republicans as men and women with backgrounds in small farming, Dean unveils new connections between seemingly separate historical events, linking this era's views of natural and manmade environments with interpretations of slavery and land policy.
Ecosystem effects from air pollution in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and elsewhere in New York have been substantial. Efforts to characterize and quantify these impacts, and to examine more recent recovery, have focused largely on surface waters, soils, and forests. Lakes, streams, and soils have acidified. Estuaries have become more eutrophic. Nutrient cycles have been disrupted. Mercury has bioaccumulated to toxic levels. Plant species composition has changed. Some surface waters show signs of partial chemical recovery in response to emissions control programs, but available data suggest that soil chemistry may continue to deteriorate under expected future emissions and deposition. Resource managers, policymakers, and scientists now need to know the extent to which current and projected future emissions reductions will lead to ecosystem recovery.
In this book, Timothy J. Sullivan provides a comprehensive synthesis of past, current, and potential future conditions regarding atmospheric sulfur, nitrogen oxides, ammonium, and mercury deposition; surface water chemistry; soil chemistry; forests; and aquatic biota in New York, providing much needed information to help set emissions reduction goals, evaluate incremental improvements, conduct cost/benefit analyses, and prioritize research needs. He draws upon a wealth of research conducted over the past thirty years that has categorized, quantified, and advanced understanding of ecosystem processes related to atmospheric deposition of strong acids, nutrients, and mercury and associated ecosystem effects. An important component of this volume is the new interest in the management and mitigation of ecosystem damage from air pollution stress, which builds on the "critical loads" approach pioneered in Europe and now gaining interest in the United States.
This book will inform scientists, resource managers, and policy analysts regarding the state of scientific knowledge on these complex topics and their policy relevance and will help to guide public policy assessment work in New York, the Northeast, and nationally.
The Life History and Ecology of River Herring in the Northeast
While on vacation in 1980, biologist Barbara Brennessel and her family came across an amazing sight: hundreds of small silver fish migrating from the Atlantic Ocean, across a channel connecting two ponds in the town of Wellfleet on Cape Cod. She later learned that these tiny river herring were important for the ecology and economy of the region and that volunteers were counting fewer and fewer fish migrating each year. The Alewives’ Tale describes the plight of alewives and blueback herring, two fish species that have similar life histories and are difficult to distinguish by sight. Collectively referred to as river herring, they have been economically important since colonial times as food, fertilizer, and bait. In recent years they have attracted much attention from environmentalists, especially as attempts are being made, on and beyond Cape Cod, to restore the rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and estuaries that are crucial for their reproduction and survival. Brennessel provides an overview of the biology of the fish—from fertilized eggs to large schools of adults that migrate in the Atlantic Ocean—while describing the habitats at different stages of their life history. She explores the causes of the dramatic decline of river herring since the mid-twentieth century and the various efforts to restore these iconic fish to the historic populations that treated many onlookers to spectacular inland migrations each spring.
Naturalists, Collectors, and Biodiversity, 1850-1950
We humans share Earth with 1.4 million known species and millions more species that are still unrecorded. Yet we know surprisingly little about the practical work that produced the vast inventory we have to date of our fellow creatures. How were these multitudinous creatures collected, recorded, and named? When, and by whom?
Here a distinguished historian of science tells the story of the modern discovery of biodiversity. Robert Kohler argues that the work begun by Linnaeus culminated around 1900, when collecting and inventory were organized on a grand scale in natural history surveys. Supported by governments, museums, and universities, biologists launched hundreds of collecting expeditions to every corner of the world. Kohler conveys to readers the experience and feel of expeditionary travel: the customs and rhythms of collectors' daily work, and its special pleasures and pains.
A novel twist in this story is that survey collecting was rooted not just in science but also in new customs of outdoor recreation, such as hiking, camping, and sport hunting. These popular pursuits engendered a wide scientific interest in animals and plants and inspired wealthy nature-goers to pay for expeditions. The modern discovery of biodiversity became a reality when scientists' desire to know intersected with the culture of outdoor vacationing. General readers as well as scholars will find this book fascinating.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina
The constant assault of natural forces make fragile barrier islands some of the most rapidly changing locations in the world, but human activities have had enormous impact on these islands as well. In Altered Environments, Jeffrey and Kathleen Pompe explore the complex interactions between nature and human habitation on the resilient Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Pompes employ modern and historical photographs and maps to illustrate the geographic and ecologic changes that have taken place on the Outer Banks, evaluating efforts to preserve these lands and also meet the evolving needs of a growing population. The Pompes examine the various forces that have created an environment so very different from the Outer Banks of only a few decades ago. The defining event in the reshaping of the islands for expanded development was the dune-construction project of the 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a wall of self-sustaining dunes along 125 miles of Outer Banks shoreline in an effort to stave off beach erosion. This event created a historical demarcation in conservation efforts and heralded the beginning of a period of rapid economic development for the Outer Banks. The construction project reshaped the islands' geography to accomplish perceived economic advantages and prepared the Outer Banks for the last half of the twentieth century, when tourists increasingly visited this shore, bringing corresponding developments in their wake. The dune-restoration project is just one of the Pompes' examples of how human actions have altered the islands to meet the demands of a growing number of visitors and residents. While Altered Environments focuses on the Outer Banks, the narrative also considers social, environmental, and economic issues that are relevant to much of the seashore. Most coastal communities face similar problems, such as natural disasters and shoreline erosion, and in recent decades rapid population growth has exacerbated many conservation problems. Real-estate developments, the fisheries industry, tourism, climate change, and oil exploration all come under scrutiny in this investigation. Using the Outer Banks as a case study to frame a host of environmental challenges faced along the Atlantic seaboard today, the Pompes provide a valuable commentary on the historical context of these concerns and offer some insightful solutions that allow for sustainable communities.
The Cranberry in a New Environment
The cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is one of only three cultivated fruits native to North America. The story of this perennial vine began as the glaciers retreated about fifteen thousand years ago. Centuries later, it kept Native Americans and Pilgrims alive through the winter months, played a role in a diplomatic gesture to King Charles in 1677, protected sailors on board whaling ships from scurvy, fed General Grant’s men in 1864, and provided over a million pounds of sustenance per year to our World War II doughboys. Today, it is a powerful tool in the fight against various forms of cancer. This is America’s superfruit.
This book poses the question of how the cranberry, and by inference other fruits, will fare in a warming climate. In her attempt to evaluate the effects of climate change, Susan Playfair interviewed growers from Massachusetts west to Oregon and from New Jersey north to Wisconsin, the cranberry’s temperature tolerance range. She also spoke with scientists studying the health benefits of cranberries, plant geneticists mapping the cranberry genome, a plant biologist who provided her with the first regression analysis of cranberry flowering times, and a migrant beekeeper trying to figure out why the bees are dying.
Taking a broader view than the other books on cranberries, America’s Founding Fruit presents a brief history of cranberry cultivation and its role in our national history, leads the reader through the entire cultivation process from planting through distribution, and assesses the possible effects of climate change on the cranberry and other plants and animals. Could the American cranberry cease growing in the United States? If so, what would be lost?