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Chasing El Duende
The euphoria of discovery is the only motivation many scientists need for studying nature and its secrets. Yet euphoria is rarely expressed in scientific publications. This book, a personal account of more than thirty years of fieldwork by one of the world’s leading bat biologists, wonderfully conveys the thrill of scientific discovery. Theodore Fleming’s work to document the lives and ecological importance of plant-visiting bats has taken him to the tropical forests of Panama, Costa Rica, and Australia, and to the lush Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico and Arizona. This book tells the story of his fascinating career and recounts his many adventures in the field.
Fleming weaves autobiographical reflections together with information on the natural history and ecology of bats and describes many other animals and plants he has encountered. His book details the stresses and rewards of life in scientific field camps, gives portraits of prominent biologists such as Dan Janzen and Peter Raven, and traces the development of modern tropical biology. A witness to the destruction and development of many of the forests he has visited throughout his career, Fleming makes a passionate plea for the conservation of these wild places.
Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability
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).
Conservation and Management
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.
With all new illustrations, color photographs, revised species accounts, updated maps, and a sturdy flexible binding, this new edition of the authoritative guide to bats in Texas will serve as the field guide and all-around reference of choice for amateur naturalists as well as mammalogists, wildlife biologists, and professional conservationists. Texas is home to all four families of bats that occur in the United States, including thirty-three species of these important yet increasingly threatened mammals. Although five species, each represented by a single specimen, may be regarded as vagrants, no other state has a bat fauna more diverse, from the state’s most common species, the Brazilian free-tailed bat, to the rare hairy-legged vampire. The introductory chapter of this new edition of Bats of Texas surveys bats in general—their appearance, distribution, classification, evolution, biology, and life history—and discusses public health and bat conservation. An updated account for each species follows, with pictures by an outstanding nature photographer, distribution maps, and a thorough bibliography. Bats of Texas also features revised and illustrated dichotomous keys accompanied by gracefully detailed line drawings to aid in identification. A list of specimens examined is located at batsoftexas.com.
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.
The Story of America’s First National River
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.
Ask a traditional mathematician the likely outcome of a coin-toss, and he will reply that no evidence exists on which to base such a prediction. Ask a Bayesian, and he will examine the coin, conclude that it was probably not tampered with, and predict five hundred heads in a thousand tosses; a subsequent experiment would then be used to refine this prediction. The Bayesian approach, in other words, permits the use of prior knowledge when testing a hypothesis. Long the province of mathematicians and statisticians, Bayesian methods are applied in this ground-breaking book to problems in cutting-edge physics. Joerg Lemm offers practical examples of Bayesian analysis for the physicist working in such areas as neural networks, artificial intelligence, and inverse problems in quantum theory. The book also includes nonparametric density estimation problems, including, as special cases, nonparametric regression and pattern recognition. Thought-provoking and sure to be controversial, Bayesian Field Theory will be of interest to physicists as well as to other specialists in the rapidly growing number of fields that make use of Bayesian methods.
Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country
Louisiana’s bayous and their watersheds teem with cypress trees, alligators, crawfish, and many other life forms. From Bayou Tigre to Half Moon Bayou, these sluggish streams meander through lowlands, marshes, and even uplands to dominate the state’s landscape. In Bayou-Diversity, conservationist Kelby Ouchley reveals the bayou’s intricate web of flora and fauna. Through a collection of essays about Louisiana’s natural history, Ouchley details an amazing array of plants and animals found in the Bayou State. Baldcypress, orchids, feral hogs, eels, black bears, bald eagles, and cottonmouth snakes live in the well over a hundred bayous of the region. Collectively, Ouchley’s vignettes portray vibrant and complex habitats. But human interaction with the bayou and our role in its survival, Ouchley argues, will determine the future of these intricate ecosystems. Bayou-Diversity narrates the story of the bayou one flower, one creature at a time, in turn illustrating the bigger picture of this treasured and troubled Louisiana landscape.
Last Chance to Change Course