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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.
The Story of a Lost Landscape
Under the corn and soybean fields of southern Minnesota lies the memory of vast, age-old wetlands, drained away over the last 130 years in the name of agricultural progress. But not everyone saw wetlands as wasteland. Before 1900, Freeborn County’s Big Marsh provided a wealth of resources for the neighboring communities. Families hunted its immense flocks of migrating waterfowl, fished its waters, trapped muskrats and mink, and harvested wood and medicinal plants. As farmland prices rose, however, the value of the land under the water became more attractive to people with capital. While residents fought bitterly, powerful outside investors overrode local opposition and found a way to drain 18,000 acres of wetland at public expense. Author Cheri Register stumbled upon her great-grandfather’s scathing critique of the draining and was intrigued. Following the clues he left, she uncovers the stories of life on the Big Marsh and of the “connivers” who plotted its end: the Minneapolis land developer, his local fixer, an Illinois banker, and the lovelorn local lawyer who did their footwork. The Big Marsh, an environmental history told from a personal point of view, shows the enduring value of wild places and the importance of the fight to preserve them, both then and now.
The Big Sandy River and its two main tributaries, the Tug and Levisa forks, drain nearly two million mountainous acres in the easternmost part of Kentucky. For generations, the only practical means of transportation and contact with the outside world was the river, and, as The Big Sandy demonstrates, steamboats did much to shape the culture of the region. Carol Crowe-Carraco offers an intriguing and readable account of this region's history from the days of the venturesome Long Hunters of the eighteenth century, through the bitter struggles of the Civil War and its aftermath, up to the 1970s, with their uncertain promise of a new prosperity. The Big Sandy pictures these changes vividly while showing how the turbulent past of the valley lives on in the region's present.
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.
Tortoises, those unmistakable turtles, evolved from a lineage that split off from the familiar pond turtles roughly 100 million years ago. Over time, these plant-eating land turtles spread around the world, growing to an enormous size (depending on the species) and living so long that they have become the stuff of legends. By most accounts, they are indeed the longest-lived of the turtles, with good records suggesting individuals may live as long as 180 years (anecdotal records suggest that some reach ages of 200 years or more). Providing the first comprehensive treatment of North America’s tortoises, Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises brings together leading experts to give an overview of tortoise morphology, taxonomy, systematics, paleontology, physiology, ecology, behavior, reproduction, diet, growth, health, and conservation. The contributors carefully combine their own expertise and observations with results from studies conducted by hundreds of other researchers. The result is a book that belongs in the library of every herpetologist. Contributors Gustavo Aguirre L. Linda J. Allison Matthew J. Aresco Roy C. Averill-Murray Joan E. Berish Kristin H. Berry Dennis M. Bramble K. Kristina Drake Taylor Edwards Todd C. Esque Richard Franz Craig Guyer J. Scott Harrison Sharon M. Hermann J. Howard Hutchison Elliott R. Jacobson Valerie M. Johnson Richard T. Kazmaier Earl D. McCoy Philip A. Medica Robert W. Murphy Henry R. Mushinsky Kenneth E. Nussear Michael P. O’Connor Thomas A. Radzio David C. Rostal Lora L. Smith James R. Spotila Craig B. Stanford C. Richard Tracy Tracey D. Tuberville Michael Tuma Thane Wibbels
The largest seaweed, giant kelp (Macrocystis) is the fastest growing and most prolific of all plants found on earth. Growing from the seafloor and extending along the ocean surface in lush canopies, giant kelp provides an extensive vertical habitat in a largely two-dimensional seascape. It is the foundation for one of the most species-rich, productive, and widely distributed ecological communities in the world.
Schiel and Foster’s scholarly review and synthesis take the reader from Darwin’s early observations to contemporary research, providing a historical perspective for the modern understanding of giant kelp evolution, biogeography, biology, and physiology.
The authors furnish a comprehensive discussion of kelp species and forest ecology worldwide, with considerations of human uses and abuses, management and conservation, and the current and likely future impacts of global change.
This volume promises to be the definitive treatise and reference on giant kelp and its forests for many years, and it will appeal to marine scientists and others who want a better appreciation and understanding of these wondrous forests of the sea.