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The Atchafalaya River Basin

History and Ecology of an American Wetland

Bryan P. Piazza

In this comprehensive, one-volume reference, Nature Conservancy scientist Bryan P. Piazza poses five key questions:
—What is the Atchafalaya River Basin?
—Why is it important?
—How have its hydrology and natural habitats been managed?
—What is its current state?
—How do we ensure its survival?
For more than five centuries, the Atchafalaya River Basin has captured the flow of the Mississippi River, becoming its main distributary as it reaches the Gulf of Mexico in south Louisiana. This dynamic environment, comprising almost a million acres of the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley and Mississippi River Deltaic Plain, is perhaps best known for its expansive swamp environments dominated by baldcypress, water tupelo, and alligators. But the Atchafalaya River Basin contains a wide range of habitats and one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the North American continent.     
Piazza has compiled and synthesized the body of scientific knowledge for the Atchafalaya River Basin, documenting the ecological state of the basin and providing a baseline of understanding. His research provides a crucial resource for future planning. He evaluates some common themes that have emerged from the research and identifies important scientific questions that remain unexplored.

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Atlas of Crustacean Larvae

edited by Joel W. Martin, Jørgen Olesen, and Jens T. Høeg

Crustaceans—familiar to the average person as shrimp, lobsters, crabs, krill, barnacles, and their many relatives—are easily one of the most important and diverse groups of marine life forms. Poorly understood, they are among the most numerous invertebrates on earth. Most crustaceans start life as eggs and move through a variety of morphological phases prior to maturity. In Atlas of Crustacean Larvae, more than 45 of the world's leading crustacean researchers explain and illustrate the beauty and complexity of the many larval life stages. Revealing shapes that are reminiscent of aliens from other worlds—often with bizarre modifications for a planktonic life or for parasitization, including (in some cases) bulging eyes, enormous spines, and aids for flotation and swimming—the abundant illustrations and photographs show the detail of each morphological stage and allow for quick comparisons. The diversity is immediately apparent in the illustrations: spikes that deter predators occur on some larvae, while others bear unique specializations not seen elsewhere, and still others appear as miniature versions of the adults. Small differences in anatomy are shown to be suited to the behaviors and survival mechanisms of each species. Destined to become a key reference for specialists and students and a treasured book for anyone who wishes to understand "the invertebrate backbone of marine ecosystems," Atlas of Crustacean Larvae belongs on the shelf of every serious marine biologist.

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Atomic Testing in Mississippi

Project Dribble and the Quest for Nuclear Weapons Treaty Verification in the Cold War Era

In Atomic Testing in Mississippi, David Allen Burke illuminates the nearly forgotten history of America’s only nuclear detonations east of the Mississippi River. The atomic tests, conducted in the mid-1960s nearly 3,000 feet below ground in Mississippi’s Tatum Salt Dome, posed a potential risk for those living within 150 miles of the site, which included residents of Hattiesburg, Jackson, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, and New Orleans. While the detonations provided the United States with verification methods that helped limit the world’s nuclear arsenals, they sparked widespread public concern. In 1964 and 1966 the Atomic Energy Commission conducted experiments at the salt dome—code-named Dribble—surrounded by a greater population density than any other test site in the United States. Although the detonations were not weapons tests, they fostered a conflict between regional politicians interested in government-funded science projects and a population leery of nuclear testing near their homes. Even today, residents near the salt dome are still fearful of long-term negative health consequences. Despite its controversy, Project Dribble provided the technology needed to detect and assess the performance of distant underground atomic explosions and thus verify international weapons treaty compliance. This technology led to advanced seismological systems that now provide tsunami warnings and detect atomic activity in other nuclear nations, such as Pakistan and North Korea.

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Audubon

The Kentucky Years

L. Clark Keating

Kentucky attracted an amazing variety of would-be settlers in pioneer days, but none with brighter talent than John James Audubon. Although his years in the state came long before publication of the monumental Birds of America, he was already painting the scenes from nature that were to make him famous.

Audubon: The Kentucky Years is the captivating account of Audubon's sojourn in Kentucky from his arrival in in 1807 as a gregarious twenty-two-year-old storekeeper to his departure in 1819, when his failure in business was about to force him to seek a livelihood from his skill as an artist.

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The Balance of Nature

Ecology's Enduring Myth

John Kricher

The idea of a balance of nature has been a dominant part of Western philosophy since before Aristotle, and it persists in the public imagination and even among some ecologists today. In this lively and thought-provoking book, John Kricher demonstrates that nature in fact is not in balance, nor has it ever been at any stage in Earth's history. He explains how and why this notion of a natural world in balance has endured for so long, and he shows why, in these times of extraordinary human influence on the planet's ecosystems, it is critical that we accept and understand that evolution is a fact of life, and that ecology is far more dynamic than we ever imagined.

The Balance of Nature traces the fascinating history of the science of ecology and evolutionary biology, from the discipline's early innovators to the advent of Darwin and evolution, to the brilliant and inquisitive scientific minds of today. Blending insights and entertaining stories from his own remarkable life in science, Kricher reveals how evolution is a powerful engine that drives ecological change, how nature is constantly in flux and, in effect, quite naturally out of balance--and how notions to the contrary are misguided and ultimately hazardous to us all.

The Balance of Nature forcefully argues that an understanding of the dynamic nature of ecology and evolution is essential to formulating policies of environmental ethics to guide humanity toward a more responsible stewardship of our planet's ecosystems.

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Bataille’s Peak

Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability

Allan Stoekl

As the price of oil climbs toward $100 a barrel, our impending post-fossil fuel future appears to offer two alternatives: a bleak existence defined by scarcity and sacrifice or one in which humanity places its faith in technological solutions with unforeseen consequences. Are there other ways to imagine life in an era that will be characterized by resource depletion?

 

The French intellectual Georges Bataille saw energy as the basis of all human activity—the essence of the human—and he envisioned a society that, instead of renouncing profligate spending, would embrace a more radical type of energy expenditure: la dépense, or “spending without return.” In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Bataille—in the wake of Giordano Bruno and the Marquis de Sade— can help us rethink not only energy and consumption, but also such related topics as the city, the body, eroticism, and religion. Through these cases, Stoekl identifies the differences between waste, which Bataille condemned, and expenditure, which he celebrated.

 

The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend—without recourse to austerity and self-denial—the inevitable and necessary shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure.

 

Allan Stoekl is professor of French and comparative literature at Penn State University. He is the author of Agonies of the Intellectual: Commitment, Subjectivity, and the Performative in the Twentieth-Century French Tradition and translator of Bataille’s Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939 (Minnesota, 1985).

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Bats in Forests

Conservation and Management

edited by Michael J. Lacki, John P. Hayes, and Allen Kurta foreword by Merlin D. Tuttle

Although bats are often thought of as cave dwellers, many species depend on forests for all or part of the year. Of the 45 species of bats in North America, more than half depend on forests, using the bark of trees, tree cavities, or canopy foliage as roosting sites. Over the past two decades it has become increasingly clear that bat conservation and management are strongly linked to the health of forests within their range. Initially driven by concern for endangered species—the Indiana bat, for example—forest ecologists, timber managers, government agencies, and conservation organizations have been altering management plans and silvicultural practices to better accommodate bat species. Bats in Forests presents the work of a variety of experts who address many aspects of the ecology and conservation of bats. The chapter authors describe bat behavior, including the selection of roosts, foraging patterns, and seasonal migration as they relate to forests. They also discuss forest management and its influence on bat habitat. Both public lands and privately owned forests are considered, as well as techniques for monitoring bat populations and activity. The important role bats play in the ecology of forests—from control of insects to nutrient recycling—is revealed by a number of authors. Bat ecologists, bat conservationists, forest ecologists, and forest managers will find in this book an indispensable synthesis of the topics that concern them.

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Bats of the United States and Canada

Michael J. Harvey, J. Scott Altenbach, and Troy L. Best

Bats of the United States and Canada is the only complete and accessible guide to all forty-seven species of bats found in the region. Bats are among the world’s most fascinating creatures. The only mammals capable of true flight, these animals are marvels of evolution. A wide variety of species lives in the United States and Canada, ranging from the California leaf-nosed bat to the Florida bonneted bat, from the eastern small-footed bat to the northern long-eared Bat. Fact-filled and easy to use, this guide includes accurate range maps, detailed biological information, and useful identification tips. J. Scott Altenbach's stunning photographs accompany each species account, capturing the amazing diversity of these winged mammals. This guide also includes helpful information on the natural history of bats from across the globe. Bats today face ever-increasing danger from destruction of habitat, new technologies such as wind turbines, chemical toxicants, and devastating diseases like white-nose syndrome, which is killing millions of cave bats in the United States and Canada. The authors discuss these threats and others as well as the latest conservation efforts to protect bats around the world. Written by three of the world’s leading bat experts, this volume is the most comprehensive guide to the bat species of the United States and Canada available.

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The Battle for Paradise

Surfing, Tuna, and One Town's Quest to Save a Wave

Jeremy Evans

Pavones, a town located on the southern tip of Costa Rica, is a haven for surfers, expatriates, and fishermen seeking a place to start over. Located on the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), a marine sanctuary and one of the few tropical fjords in the world, Pavones is home to a legendary surf break and a cottage fishing industry.
 
In 2004 a multinational company received approval to install the world’s first yellowfin tuna farm near the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. The tuna farm as planned would pollute the area, endanger sea turtles, affect the existing fish population, and threaten the world-class wave. A lawsuit was filed just in time, and the project was successfully stalled. Thus began an unlikely alliance of local surfers, fishermen, and global environmental groups to save a wave and one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
 
In The Battle for Paradise, Jeremy Evans travels to Pavones to uncover the story of how this ragtag group stood up to a multinational company and how a shadowy figure from the town’s violent past became an unlikely hero. In this harrowing but ultimately inspiring story, Evans focuses in turn on a colorful cast of characters with an unyielding love for the ocean and surfing, a company’s unscrupulous efforts to expand profits, and a government that nearly sold out the perfect wave.

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The Battle for the Buffalo River

The Story of America’s First National River

Neil Compton

Under the auspices of the 1938 Flood Control Act, the U.S. Corps of Engineers began to pursue an aggressive dam-building campaign. A grateful public generally lauded their efforts, but when they turned their attention to Arkansas’s Buffalo River, the vocal opposition their proposed projects generated dumbfounded them. Never before had anyone challenged the Corps’s assumption that damming a river was an improvement. Led by Neil Compton, a physician in Bentonville, Arkansas, a group of area conservationists formed the Ozark Society to join the battle for the Buffalo. This book is the account of this decade-long struggle that drew in such political figures as supreme court justice William O. Douglas, Senator J. William Fulbright, and Governor Orval Faubus. The battle finally ended in 1972 with President Richard Nixon’s designation of the Buffalo as the first national river. Drawing on hundreds of personal letters, photographs, maps, newspaper articles, and reminiscences, Compton’s lively book details the trials, gains, setbacks, and ultimate triumph in one of the first major skirmishes between environmentalists and developers.

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