Nature's Fading Chorus: Classic and Contemporary Writings on Amphibians / Edition 2

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<p>Naturalists in every age have been intrigued by frogs, toads, and salamanders. They have seen these amphibians in a variety of guises - as beings with magical powers or implicit moral lessons, as the products of spontaneous generation, as heralds of the seasons, as evidence of evolution or material for biological experiments, or, most recently, as ecological barometers for the biosphere.<p>Nature's Fading Chorus presents an anthology of writings on amphibians drawn from the entire Western natural history tradition, beginning with Aristotle's Inquiry Concerning Animals written in the fourth century B.C.E., and continuing through recent scientific accounts of the relatively sudden - and alarming - global declines and deformities in amphibian species. The offerings not only reveal much about amphibian life, but also provide fascinating insight into the worldviews of the many writers, scientists, and naturalists who have delved into the subject.<p>The book is divided into five sections. The first three offer selections from the most influential contributors to the Western canon of natural history writing, and contain classic texts that illustrate central themes in the changing understanding of amphibians and of the natural world. The fourth section offers engaging essays by leading twentieth-century nature writers that portray a variety of amphibians in diverse terrains. Part five covers the various aspects of, and research on, the problem of amphibian declines and deformities. Featured are more than thirty-five pieces, including works from Pliny the Elder, Gilbert White, William Bartram, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley, Loren Eiseley, Stephen Jay Gould, George Orwell, Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams, and many others.<p>Arranged chronologically, the writings provide an intriguing look at the ways in which humankind's understanding of its place in nature has changed through the course of Western history, and of the niche amphibians have occupied in that evolution.
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Editorial Reviews

Collects excerpts and articles from a range of Western natural history writings beginning with early hits like Aristotle's , and works by Pliny the Elder, Albert the Great, Thomas Browne, and John Ray. Next come early amphibious writings by Gilbert White, William Bartram, Thoreau, Burroughs, and W.H. Hudson. Scientific essays by Darwin, T.H. Huxley, Julian Huxley, and Stephen J. Gould follow. Twentieth-century nature writers are represented by Orwell, Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams and others. The essays end on that unhappy note usual (and usually necessary) in environmental narratives, a lament of declines, deformities, and biodiversity, addressing subjects like vanishing and mutant frogs, and amphibians as harbingers of a world in decay. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559637947
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Interpreting the Cosmos: Early Naturalists 11
From Historia Animalium (Inquiry Concerning Animals) (fourth century B.C.E.) 14
From Natural History (first century C.E.) 16
From the Physiologus (ca. second century C.E.) 18
From De Animalibus (Man and the Beasts) (ca. 1250) 19
From The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (1608) 22
From Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646) 26
From The Book of Nature; or, The History of Insects (1669) 31
From The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691) 33
Pt. II Reclaiming Paradise: Pioneering Nature Writers 39
From The Natural History of Selborne (1789) 41
From Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida (1791) 45
From the Journal (1857-1860) 50
The Tree-Toad (1904) 55
The Toad as Traveller (1919) 59
Pt. III Telling Naturalistic Tales: Scientific Essayists 65
From The Voyage of the Beagle (1845) and The Origin of Species (1859) 68
On the Hypothesis That Animals Are Automata, and Its History (1874) 72
The Tale of Tadpoles (1911) 76
The Frog and Biology (1927) 81
The Dance of the Frogs (1978) 88
Here Goes Nothing (1991) 95
A Breeding Congress (1998) 105
Pt. IV Remembering the Earth: Twentieth-Century Nature Writers 111
From The Face of the Fields (1911) and Sanctuary! Sanctuary! (1926) 113
From An Almanac for Moderns (1935) 124
Thoughts on the Common Toad (1946) 128
The Day of the Peepers (1949) 131
Audubon's Salamanders (1965) 136
From Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974) 142
From Wintergreen (1986) 146
From The Mysterious Lands (1989) and Downcanyon (1995) 153
From Desert Quartet (1995) 157
Pt. V Reading the Signs of the Times: Declines, Deformities, and Biodiversity 161
From Tracking the Vanishing Frogs (1994) 164
Amphibians as Harbingers of Decay (1990) 175
Amphibians in a Bad Light (1994) 176
The Case of the Vanishing Frogs (1997) 181
The Sound of Silence (1998) 189
Are Pathogens Felling Frogs? (1999) 194
A Trematode Parasite Causes Some Frog Deformities (1999) 200
Dimensions of Deformity 203
Epilogue 215
Notes 219
Sources 223
Acknowledgments 227
About the Authors 229
Index 237
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