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The Emergence of Ecosystem Science
In Big Ecology, David C. Coleman documents his historically fruitful ecological collaborations in the early years of studying large ecosystems in the United States. As Coleman explains, the concept of the ecosystem—a local biological community and its interactions with its environment—has given rise to many institutions and research programs, like the National Science Foundation’s program for Long Term Ecological Research. Coleman’s insider account of this important and fascinating trend toward big science takes us from the paradigm of collaborative interdisciplinary research, starting with the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957, through the International Biological Program (IBP) of the late 1960s and early 1970s, to the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs of the 1980s.
An Introduction, Third Edition
Originally published in 1979, Geraldine Ellis Watson’s Big Thicket Plant Ecology is now back in print. This updated edition explores the plant biology, ecology, geology, and environmental regions of the Big Thicket National Preserve. After decades of research on the Big Thicket, Watson concluded that the Big Thicket was unique for its biological diversity, due mainly to interactions of geology and climate. A visitor in the Big Thicket could look in four different directions from one spot and view scenes typical of the Appalachians, the Florida Everglades, a southwestern desert, or the pine barrens of the Carolinas. Watson covers the ecological and geological history of the Big Thicket and introduces its plant life, from longleaf pines and tupelo swamps to savannah wetlands and hardwood flats. “This is the work on the plant biology of the Big Thicket.”—Pete A.Y. Gunter, author of The Big Thicket
The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides
From meadows to marshlands, seashores to suburbs, field guides help us identify many of the things we find outdoors: plants, insects, mammals, birds. In these texts, nature is typically represented, both in words and images, as ordered, clean, and untouched by human technology and development. This preoccupation with species identification, however, has produced an increasingly narrow view of nature, a “binocular vision,” that separates the study of individual elements from a range of larger, interconnected environmental issues. In this book, Spencer Schaffner reconsiders this approach to nature study by focusing on how birds are presented in field guides. Starting with popular books from the late nineteenth century and moving ultimately to the electronic guides of the current day, Binocular Vision contextualizes birdwatching field guides historically, culturally, and in terms of a wide range of important environmental issues. Schaffner questions the assumptions found in field guides to tease out their ideological workings. He argues that the sanitized world represented in these guides misleads readers by omitting industrial landscapes and so-called nuisance birds, leaving users of the guides disconnected from environmental degradation and its impact on bird populations. By putting field guides into direct conversation with concerns about species conservation, environmental management, the human alteration of the environment, and the problem of toxic pollution, Binocular Vision is a field guide to field guides that takes a novel perspective on how we think about and interact with the world around us.
Learning the Lessons in a Seasonal Dry Forest
The beautiful tropical dry forest of northwest Costa Rica, with its highly seasonal rainfall and diversely vegetated landscape, is disappearing even more rapidly than Costa Rica's better-known rain forest, primarily because it has been easier to convert to agriculture. This book, based on more than thirty years of study, offers the first comprehensive look at the ecology, biodiversity, and conservation status of this endangered and fragile region. The contributors, from Costa Rica, Britain, Mexico, and the United States, and representing the fields of ecology, environmental education, policy, and the law, examine the major plant and animal groups living in the dry forest and present the first technical evaluation of Costa Rica's conservation efforts.
As they assess the status of their area of specialty in the dry forest, the contributors also look beyond this particular region to show how its plants and animals are ecologically and evolutionarily connected to other geographic areas in Costa Rica and Central America. Their chapters cover topics such as watershed and coastal management, plant phenology, pollination, insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. They also consider the socioeconomic, policy, legal, and political aspects of biodiversity conservation, giving the volume a wide-ranging perspective and making a unique contribution to our knowledge of the tropical dry forest. The book concludes with an important synthesis of the contributors' recommendations on future directions, policies, and actions that will better conserve biodiversity in Costa Rica and other neotropical forests as well.
In the last thirty years, the Upper Texas Coast has become a “must go” destination for birders around the globe. This book will serve as an essential companion to the customary field guide and pair of binoculars for all visitors to Houston, High Island, Galveston, Freeport, or any of the area’s other exciting birding spots. It also places the birdlife of the region, a seven-county area with a larger bird list than forty-three states, into historical and ecological contexts. Authors Eubanks, Behrstock, and Weeks—all recognized authorities on the migrant and resident birds of this region—present a thorough introduction to the area’s history, physiography, and avifauna. Then, in generous discussions of bird families and species, they synthesize years of records, tracking the comings and goings of more than 480 birds and incorporating their own lifetimes of experience to create an “ornithological mosaic” of lasting significance.
Nature, Culture, and Sustainability
This comprehensive study of one of the most ecologically rich regions of the Southeast underscores the relevance of archaeological research in understanding long-term cultural change.
Taking a holistic approach, this compilation gathers ecological, historical, and archaeological research written on the distinctive region of the Southeast called the Gulf coast blackland prairie. Ranging from the last glacial period to the present day, the case studies provide a broad picture of how the area has changed through time and been modified by humans, first with nomadic bands of Indians trailing the grazing animals and then by Euro-American settlers who farmed the rich agricultural area. Contemporary impacts include industrialization, aquaculture, population growth, land reclamation, and wildlife management.
It is believed that the Black Belt and the Great Plains were contiguous in the past and shared the same prairie vegetation, insects, and large fauna, such as bison. Swaths and patches of limestone-based soils still weave a biological corridor through what is now Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. In analyzing this distinct grassland ecosystem, the essays compare both the mega and minute flora and fauna sustained by the land in the past and present; reveal what foods were harvested by early inhabitants, their gathering techniques, and diet changes over the 10,000-year period of native occupancy; survey the documents of early explorers for descriptions of the landform, its use, and the lives of inhabitants at the time of contact; and look at contemporary efforts to halt abuse and reverse damage to this unique and shrinking biome.
This book demonstrates that the blackland prairie has always been an important refuge for a teeming array of biological species, including humans. It will have wide scholarly appeal as well as general interest and will be welcomed by archaeologists, biologists, botanists, ecologists, historians, librarians, politicians, land managers, and national, state, and local administrators.
Evan Peacock is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Mississippi State University and a contributor to The Woodland Southeast. Timothy Schauwecker is a biologist with Mississippi State University.
Adventures of a Dinosaur Hunter
An Anthology of Sounds, Words, Thoughts
This innovative book and online CD, assembled by the editors of the renowned periodical Terra Nova, is the first anthology published on the subject of music and nature. Lush and evocative, yoking together the simplicities and complexities of the world of natural sound and the music inspired by it, this collection includes essays, illustrations, and plenty of sounds and music. The Book of Music and Nature celebrates our relationship with natural soundscapes while posing stimulating questions about that very relationship. The book ranges widely, with the interplay of the texts and sounds creating a conversation that readers from all walks of life will find provocative and accessible.
The anthology includes classic texts on music and nature by 20th century masters including John Cage, Hazrat Inrayat Khan, Pierre Schaeffer, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Toru Takemitsu. Innovative essays by Brian Eno, Pauline Oliveros, David Toop, Hildegard Westerkamp and Evan Eisenberg also appear. Interspersed throughout are short fictional excerpts by authors Rafi Zabor, Alejo Carpentier, and Junichiro Tanazaki.
The virtual CD at http://www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/musicandnaturecd/ includes fifteen tracks of music made out of, or reflective of, natural sounds, ranging from Babenzele Pygmy music to Australian butcherbirds, and from Pauline Oliveros to Brian Eno.
My Life in Science
In Bootstrap Geologist Shinn enthusiastically shares the highs and lows of his remarkable life. Taking readers around the globe as well as below the ocean, he recounts the painstaking process of data gathering that can lead to paradigm-breaking discoveries. He emphasizes the importance of field science and pointedly addresses the use and abuse of scientific research and the emergence of market-funded research.