How the Earthquake Bird Got its Name and Other Tales of an Unbalanced Nature / Edition 1

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Overview

Although people have been altering earth’s landscapes to some extent for tens of thousands of years, humankind today is causing massive changes to the planet. Such widespread environmental change is accompanied by accelerating rates of species extinction. In this book, noted ecologist H. H. Shugart presents important ecological concepts through entertaining animal parables. He tells the stories of particular birds and mammals—the packrat, ivory-billed woodpecker, penguin, dingo, European rabbit, and others—and what their fates reveal about the interactions between environmental change and the extinctions or explosions of species populations.

Change is the root of many planetary problems, but it is also an intrinsic feature of our living planet. Shugart explores past environmental change, discusses the non-existence of a "balance of Nature,” and documents how human alterations have affected plants, soils, and animals. He looks with hope toward a future in which thoughtful people learn—and use—ecological science to protect the landscapes upon which terrestrial creatures depend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The "balance of nature" trope beloved of lion vs. wildebeest wildlife documentaries reassures viewers of the robustness of the ecological equilibrium. This engaging collection of essays, by contrast, emphasizes the fragility of nature's equilibrium by exploring the wide-ranging, often irreversible, consequences of disturbing it. Ecologist Shugart structures each chapter around a paradigmatic animal species whose travails or triumphs illustrate important principles of environmental change. Some, like the now extinct ivory-billed woodpecker, are done in by habitat depletion, while others, like the European rabbits that overran Australia, are themselves the agents of natural catastrophe by virtue of their own success. While Shugart explores the effects of earthquakes and wildfires, people are a constant presence in these stories; their pervasive destabilizing effects on the environment are comparable, in his view, to the asteroid impacts that touched off the mass extinctions of ages past. Along the way, Shugart explains concepts in theoretical ecology and ladles out plenty of fascinating lore on such topics as the domestication of animals and the amazing methods by which migratory birds navigate the globe. The result is a lucid, thought-provoking science popularization with an unobtrusive environmentalist message. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300104578
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

H. H. Shugart is W. W. Corcoran Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia. He is the author or editor of more than 300 publications.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 The big woodpecker that was too picky 5
3 The black-headed bird named whitehead 24
4 The rat that hid time in its nest 45
5 The earthquake bird and the possum 69
6 The most common bird on earth 89
7 The engineering rodent 106
8 The fall of the big bird 116
9 The wolf that was woman's best friend 138
10 The gentle invader 159
11 Planetary stewardship 178
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2004

    Terrific book for those with an interest in the Environment

    The 'Earthquake Bird' provides a very timely, entertaining and uniquely written explanation for some of the important issues related to changes in the environment. Shugart uses animal 'parables' to describe the fates of certain birds and animals and explain their significance to ecology and conservation. This book is well worth at least a couple of readings!

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