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Behavioral Ecology and the Transition to Agriculture

Douglas J. Kennett

This innovative volume is the first collective effort by archaeologists and ethnographers to use concepts and models from human behavioral ecology to explore one of the most consequential transitions in human history: the origins of agriculture. Carefully balancing theory and detailed empirical study, and drawing from a series of ethnographic and archaeological case studies from eleven locations—including North and South America, Mesoamerica, Europe, the Near East, Africa, and the Pacific—the contributors to this volume examine the transition from hunting and gathering to farming and herding using a broad set of analytical models and concepts. These include diet breadth, central place foraging, ideal free distribution, discounting, risk sensitivity, population ecology, and costly signaling. An introductory chapter both charts the basics of the theory and notes areas of rapid advance in our understanding of how human subsistence systems evolve. Two concluding chapters by senior archaeologists reflect on the potential for human behavioral ecology to explain domestication and the transition from foraging to farming.

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Behind the Curve

Science and the Politics of Global Warming

Joshua P. Howe. Foreword by William Cronon

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Benthic Foraminifera of the Gulf of Mexico

Distribution, Ecology, Paleoecology

C. Wylie Poag

In 1981, Woods Hole researcher C. Wylie Poag published the book Ecological Atlas of the Benthic Foraminifera of the Gulf of Mexico.

In this new volume, Poag has revised and updated the atlas, incorporating three decades of extensive data collections from the open Gulf and from an additional seventeen estuarine systems to cover species of benthic foraminifera from more than eight thousand sample stations. Benthic Foraminifera of the Gulf of Mexico features 68 plates of scanning electron photomicrographs, 64 color figures, and a large color foldout map, indicating species distribution of forams.

This book is designed to aid students and teachers of geology, biology, oceanography, and ecology, as well as micropaleontologists in government and industry laboratories, and other researchers and consultants who have an interest in benthic ecology or paleoecology.

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Between Two Fires

A Fire History of Contemporary America

Stephen J. Pyne

From a fire policy of prevention at all costs to today’s restored burning, Between Two Fires is America’s history channeled through the story of wildland fire management. Stephen J. Pyne tells of a fire revolution that began in the 1960s as simple suppression and then was replaced with more enlightened programs of fire management. It then explains the counterrevolution in the 1980s that stalled the movement, and finally describes the fire scene that has evolved since then.

Pyne is uniquely qualified to tell America’s fire story. The author of more than a score of books, he has told fire’s history in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, and the Earth overall. In his earlier life, he spent fifteen seasons with the North Rim Longshots at Grand Canyon National Park.

In Between Two Fires, Pyne recounts how, after the Great Fires of 1910, a policy of fire suppression spread from America’s founding corps of foresters into a national policy that manifested itself as a costly all-out war on fire. After fifty years of attempted fire suppression, a revolution in thinking led to a more pluralistic strategy for fire’s restoration. The revolution succeeded in displacing suppression as a sole strategy, but it has failed to fully integrate fire and land management and has fallen short of its goals.

Today, the nation’s backcountry and increasingly its exurban fringe are threatened by larger and more damaging burns, fire agencies are scrambling for funds, firefighters continue to die, and the country seems unable to come to grips with the fundamentals behind a rising tide of megafires. Pyne has once again constructed a history of record that will shape our next century of fire management. Between Two Fires is a story of ideas, institutions, and fires. It’s America’s story told through the nation’s flames.
 

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Between Urban and Wild

Reflections from Colorado

Andrea M. Jones

In her calm, carefully reasoned perspective on place, Andrea Jones focuses on the familiar details of country life balanced by the larger responsibilities that come with living outside an urban boundary. Neither an environmental manifesto nor a prodevelopment defense, Between Urban and Wild operates partly on a practical level, partly on a naturalist’s level. Jones reflects on life in two homes in the Colorado Rockies, first in Fourmile Canyon in the foothills west of Boulder, then near Cap Rock Ridge in central Colorado. Whether negotiating territory with a mountain lion, balancing her observations of the predatory nature of pygmy owls against her desire to protect a nest of nuthatches, working to reduce her property’s vulnerability to wildfire while staying alert to its inherent risks during fire season, or decoding the distinct personalities of her horses, she advances the tradition of nature writing by acknowledging the effects of sprawl on a beloved landscape.

Although not intended as a manual for landowners, Between Urban and Wild nonetheless offers useful and engaging perspectives on the realities of settling and living in a partially wild environment. Throughout her ongoing journey of being home, Jones’s close observations of the land and its native inhabitants are paired with the suggestion that even small landholders can act to protect the health of their properties. Her brief meditations capture and honor the subtleties of the natural world while illuminating the importance of working to safeguard it.

Probing the contradictions of a lifestyle that burdens the health of the land that she loves, Jones’s writing is permeated by her gentle, earnest conviction that living at the urban-wild interface requires us to set aside self-interest, consider compromise, and adjust our expectations and habits—to accommodate our surroundings rather than force them to accommodate us.

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Beyond Biotechnology

The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering

Craig Holdredge and Steve Talbott

In 2001 the Human Genome Project announced that it had successfully mapped the entire genetic content of human DNA. Scientists, politicians, theologians, and pundits speculated about what would follow, conjuring everything from nightmare scenarios of state-controlled eugenics to the hope of engineering disease-resistant newborns. As with debates surrounding stem-cell research, the seemingly endless possibilities of genetic engineering will continue to influence public opinion and policy into the foreseeable future. Beyond Biotechnology: The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering distinguishes between the hype and reality of this technology and explains the nuanced and delicate relationship between science and nature. Authors Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott evaluate the current state of genetic science and examine its potential applications, particularly in agriculture and medicine, as well as the possible dangers. The authors show how the popular view of genetics does not include an understanding of the ways in which genes actually work together in organisms. Simplistic and reductionist views of genes lead to unrealistic expectations and, ultimately, disappointment in the results that genetic engineering actually delivers. The authors explore new developments in genetics, from the discovery of “non-Darwinian” adaptative mutations in bacteria to evidence that suggests that organisms are far more than mere collections of genetically driven mechanisms. While examining these issues, the authors also answer vital questions that get to the essence of genetic interaction with human biology: Does DNA “manage” an organism any more than the organism manages its DNA? Should genetically engineered products be labeled as such? Do the methods of the genetic engineer resemble the centuries-old practices of animal husbandry? Written for lay readers, Beyond Biotechnology is an accessible introduction to the complicated issues of genetic engineering and its potential applications. In the unexplored space between nature and laboratory, a new science is waiting to emerge. Technology-based social and environmental solutions will remain tenuous and at risk of reversal as long as our culture is alienated from the plants and animals on which all life depends.

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Beyond Desert Walls

Essays from Prison

"From the upper bunk where I write, a narrow window allows me a southern exposure of the desert beyond this prison. Saguaro cacti, residents here long before this rude concrete pueblo, fill the upper part of my frame. If I could open the window and reach out across the razed ground, sand traps, and shining perimeter fence, I might touch their fluted sides, their glaucous and waxen skins." For some people, even prison cannot shut out the natural world.

A teacher and family man incarcerated in Arizona State Prison—the result of a transgression that would cost him a dozen years of his life—Ken Lamberton can see beyond his desert walls. In essays that focus on the natural history of the region and on his own personal experiences with desert places, the author of the Burroughs Medal-winning book Wilderness and Razor Wire takes readers along as he revisits the Southwest he knew when he was free, and as he makes an inner journey toward self-awareness. Whether considering the seemingly eternal cacti or the desolate beauty of the Pinacate, he draws on sharp powers of observation to re-create what lies beyond his six-by-eight cell and to contemplate the thoughts that haunt his mind as tenaciously as the kissing bugs that haunt his sleep.

Ranging from prehistoric ruins on the Colorado Plateau to the shores of the Sea of Cortez, these writings were begun before Wilderness and Razor Wire and serve as a prequel to it. They seamlessly interweave natural and personal history as Lamberton explores caves, canyons, and dry ponds, evoking the mysteries and rhythms of desert life that elude even the most careful observers. He offers new ways of thinking about how we relate to the natural world, and about the links between those relationships and the ones we forge with other people. With the assurance of a gifted writer, he seeks to make sense of his own place in life, crafting words to come to terms with an insanity of his own making, to look inside himself and understand his passions and flaws.

Whether considering rattlesnakes of the hellish summer desert or the fellow inmates of his own personal hell, Lamberton finds meaningful connections—to his crime and his place, to the people who remained in his life and those who didn't. But what he reveals in Beyond Desert Walls ultimately arises from language itself: a deep, and perhaps even frightening, understanding of a singular human nature.

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Beyond Earth Day

Fulfilling the Promise

Gaylord Nelson, with Susan Campbell and Paul A. Wozniak

    Gaylord Nelson is known and respected throughout the world as a founding father of the modern environmental movement and creator of one of the most successful and influential public awareness campaigns ever undertaken on behalf of global stewardship: Earth Day.
    Now in his eighties, Nelson delivers a timely and urgent message with the same eloquence with which he has articulated the nation’s environmental ills through the decades. He details the planet’s most critical concerns—from species and habitat losses to global climate changes and population growth. In outlining his strategy for planetary health, he inspires citizens to reassert the environment as a top priority.
    A book for anyone who cares deeply about our environment and wants to know what we can and must do now to save it, Beyond Earth Day is a classic guide by one of the natural world’s great defenders.

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Beyond Preservation

Restoring and Inventing Landscapes

Dwight Baldwin

Beyond Preservation was first published in 1993. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Addressing current ecological issues, from the philosophical to the practical, Frederick Turner and William R. Jordan III Here offer a new paradigm for understanding the relationship between the humans and nature.  Challenging the idea that preserving nature is the only solution to environmental problems, they advocate going beyond preservation to restoration and actual construction of our landscape.  Fifteen respondents reflect on the implications and consequences of Turner’s and Jordan’s bold proposals.

“Ecological restoration is the most helpful and provocative contribution to our thinking about nature to come along in many years, and Beyond Preservation is without a doubt the best book on the subject to date.” Michael Polan, Harper’s

Contributors include Gary W. Barrett, Ann Cline, David L. Gorchov, William Jordan III, G. Stanley Kane, Jack Temple Kirby, Dora G. Lodwick, Orie L. Loucks, Kimberly E. Medley, Constance Pierce, Ellen Price, Frederick Turner, John E. Wierwille, and Gene E. Willeke.

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Beyond Resource Wars

Scarcity, Environmental Degradation, and International Cooperation

Edited by Shlomi Dinar

An argument that resource scarcity and environmental degradation can provide an impetus for cooperation among countries.

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