The Atlantic Coast: A Natural History

Overview


The North Atlantic coast of North America—commonly known as the Atlantic Coast—extends from Newfoundland and Labrador through the Maritime Provinces and the Northeastern United States south to Cape Hatteras. This North Atlantic region belongs to the sea. The maritime influence on climate, flora, and fauna is dominant — even far inland. Both on land and at sea, this region is where north meets south, where the great northern boreal forests intermingle with the southern coniferous-hardwood forests, and where the ...
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The Atlantic Coast: A Natural History

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Overview


The North Atlantic coast of North America—commonly known as the Atlantic Coast—extends from Newfoundland and Labrador through the Maritime Provinces and the Northeastern United States south to Cape Hatteras. This North Atlantic region belongs to the sea. The maritime influence on climate, flora, and fauna is dominant — even far inland. Both on land and at sea, this region is where north meets south, where the great northern boreal forests intermingle with the southern coniferous-hardwood forests, and where the icy Labrador Current and the tropical Gulf Stream vie for supremacy and eventually mix. The Atlantic Coast draws upon the best and most up-to-date science on the ecology of the region as well as the author’s lifetime experience as a resident, biologist, and naturalist. The book explores the geological origins of the region, the two major forest realms, and the main freshwater and marine ecosystems, and describes the flora and fauna that characterize each habitat. It ends with a look at what has been lost and how the remaining natural heritage of the region might be conserved for the future.

Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Award-winning poet and environmental journalist Thurston (A Place Between the Tides) narrates the natural history of the Atlantic coast—the stretch of land from the glaciers of Nova Scotia to the barrier islands of the American South—and details the rich biological diversity that coexists with four of the country’s biggest cities. Mixing observations, in-depth research, and vivid prose, Thurston explores the region’s geologic, ecologic, and cultural history, from the plate tectonics that created the landscape millions of years ago to the recent legislation protecting the degraded waterways of the east coast. Barrett’s gorgeous color photographs of land, sea, and sky supplement Thurston’s vivid descriptions, reminding us of our country’s great beauty. Thurston’s account emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things and warns against the “cascade effect,” in which specific occasions of species extinction or habitat destruction can have disastrous impact on the overall health of the environment. The wealth of resources that brought settlers to the Americas is now threatened by overconsumption, pollution, human encroachment, and climate change. By illuminating the relationships between organisms and their environment, Thurston hopes to instill a better understanding of our role in the Atlantic ecosystem and, hopefully, inspire the will to protect it. Agent: Dean Cooke, the Cooke Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

"[Thurston's] definition of “Atlantic Coast” encompasses more than the region south of the Gulf of Maine. And that is good …By ignoring political boundaries in favor of natural divisions, Mr. Thurston paints a clearer picture of the plants and animals of the region, the ecological niches they inhabit and the problems tormenting them."— New York Times

"Mixing observations, in-depth research, and vivid prose, Thurston explores the region’s geologic, ecologic, and cultural history, …[and] Barrett’s gorgeous color photographs of land, sea, and sky supplement Thurston’s vivid descriptions"—Publishers Weekly

“Harry Thurston is the best naturalist/writer in the Maritimes (and probably well beyond) and any book by him is well worth the read. This one is an especially valuable addition to anyone’s library, and a veritable fount of knowledge about the wildlife of the Atlantic Coast and about that world itself.”
—Farley Mowat

A wonderful portrait of a key region of our world. With evocative writing and scientific rigour, Harry Thurston takes us from the deep time of drifting continents to the environmental challenge of today.”
—Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781553654469
  • Publisher: Greystone Books
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,448,346
  • Product dimensions: 7.84 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author


Harry Thurston is the author of several collections of poetry and twelve nonfiction books, including A Place Between the Tides: A Naturalist’s Reflections on the Salt Marsh, which received the 2005 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. He has also written for such magazines as Audubon and National Geographic. Thurston lives in Nova Scotia.

Wayne Barrett is a partner in Barrett & MacKay Photography. His photographs have been featured in advertisements, magazines, and calendars and have appeared in numerous books. He lives in Prince Edward Island.

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Table of Contents


Preface 1

1 The Atlantic Realm 7
Where North Meets South

2 Oceans and Mountains 39
The Geology and Paleontology of the Atlantic Coast

3 The Atlantic Hinterland 77
Forests of the Atlantic Coast

4 Between the Capes 117
The Mid-Atlantic Bight

5 Tides of Life 153
The Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy

6 River into the Sea 199
The Gulf of St. Lawrence

7 Great Currents and Grand Banks 235
Newfoundland and Labrador

8 The Altered Realm 277
The Once and Future Atlantic

Photographer’s Acknowledgments 304

Further Reading 305

Scientific Names 311

Index 36

Panel of expert reviewers:
Dr. Graham Daborn
Founder
Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research
Acadia University,
Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Dr. David Garbary
Professor of Biology and Co-ordinator--Interdisciplinary Studies in Aquatic Resources
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Brian Harrington, Senior Shorebird Biologist
Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences
Manomet, Massachusetts

Dr. Peter Larsen
Senior Research Scientist
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
West Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Dr. Donald F. McAlpine
Chair, Department of Natural Science
Head, Zoology Section
New Brunswick Museum Saint John, N.B.

Dr. Paul E. Olsen
Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University
Palisades, New York

Dr. George Rose
Head, Fisheries Conservation,
Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland,
St. John's, Newfoundland

Dr. Boris Worm
Assistant Professor
& Head, The Worm Lab for Marine Conservation,
Department of Biology
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia

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