The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife

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Overview

Straddling temperate forests and grassland biomes and stretching along the coastline of two Great Lakes, Wisconsin contains tallgrass prairie and oak savanna, broadleaf and coniferous forests, wetlands, natural lakes, and rivers. But, like the rest of the world, the Badger State has been transformed by urbanization and sprawl, population growth, and land-use change. For decades, industry and environment have attempted to coexist in Wisconsin—and the dynamic tensions between economic progress and environmental protection makes the state a fascinating microcosm for studying global environmental change.
The Vanishing Present brings together a distinguished set of contributors—including scientists, naturalists, and policy experts—to examine how human pressures on Wisconsin’s changing lands, waters, and wildlife have redefined the state’s ecology. Though they focus on just one state, the authors draw conclusions about changes in temperate habitats that can be applied elsewhere, and offer useful insights into future of the ecology, conservation, and sustainability of Wisconsin and beyond.
A fitting tribute to the home state of Aldo Leopold and John Muir, The Vanishing Present is an accessible and timely case study of a significant ecosystem and its response to environmental change.

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Editorial Reviews

Northeastern Naturalist

"The Vanishing Present brings together a distinguished set of contributors . . . to examine how human pressures on Wisconsin's changing lands, waters, and wildlife have redefined the state's ecology. . . . . The authors draw conclusions about changes in temperate habitats that can be applied elsewhere, and offer useful insights into the future of the ecology, conservation, and sustainibility of Wisconsin and beyond."
John Terborgh

“Our cultural obsession with unlimited growth has a dark side and that is the inexorable environmental deterioration that accompanies economic expansion. Habitat destruction is obvious, but less obvious human interventions such as pollution, fire suppression, overabundant deer, and changes in forestry and agricultural practices all extract a price in lost biodiversity. Each disturbing chapter of this retrospective on Wisconsin’s priceless natural heritage is a reminder of how far we are as a society from achieving the nirvana of sustainable development.”

Dave Foreman

“Ecology is a historical science—or should be, for we can’t understand the present or the future without some understanding of the past. In The Vanishing Present, Donald Waller and Thomas Rooney have put up a trail sign on where ecological overviews need to go. In conceiving and building this anthology, Waller and Rooney show that they are not just top-notch biologists, but rare visionaries, too.  Every region of North America needs such a work, not only in scope but in quality as well.”
David Foster

“Written by a collection of the world’s great ecologists, geographers, and wildlife biologists, The Vanishing Present provides an insightful and comprehensive synthesis of the natural and human history of the Wisconsin landscape. By applying an informed historical perspective to interpret the present and anticipate the future of this one region the authors address ecological questions and tackle conservation challenges that are of universal importance. This accessibly written and well-edited volume should be of great interest to professionals, students, and a broad readership interested in understanding the past changes in nature and conserving its many values into the future.”
Harold C. Jordahl

“Don’t just read this book. Read it and do something about our environmental future. Fifty scientists share their knowledge of Wisconsin’s historical past, provide a contemporary view of a dynamic and changing present, and, lacking action, sketch an impoverished future. Study their insights to learn how we can modify our behavior. Join with them in the critical efforts to ensure our ecological health as they state, we owe it our state’s and our children’s future.”
Open Spaces - Edith M. Kadlec

"If you read one inspiring book in 2008, it should be the timely and significant new volume edited by Donald M. Waller and Thomas P. Rooney, entitled The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin’s Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife. As I read essays from fifty different scientists about biotic diversity from lichens to lakes, it was like being inside the neck of an hourglass, with the ability to look backward and forward. Just as an hourglass measures the passage of time, The Vanishing Present gives the reader an historical understanding of Wisconsin’s ecology, and the marked transformation it is presently experiencing as well as future impacts."

Quarterly Review of Biology - Lee E. Frelich

"Every ecologist, land manager or policymaker in Wisconsin and adjacent areas will this book essential; those living in other parts of the world will wish they had something like it."
David Foster

“Written by a collection of the world’s great ecologists, geographers, and wildlife biologists, The Vanishing Present provides an insightful and comprehensive synthesis of the natural and human history of the Wisconsin landscape. By applying an informed historical perspective to interpret the present and anticipate the future of this one region the authors address ecological questions and tackle conservation challenges that are of universal importance. This accessibly written and well-edited volume should be of great interest to professionals, students, and a broad readership interested in understanding the past changes in nature and conserving its many values into the future.”
Open Spaces
If you read one inspiring book in 2008, it should be the timely and significant new volume edited by Donald M. Waller and Thomas P. Rooney, entitled The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin’s Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife. As I read essays from fifty different scientists about biotic diversity from lichens to lakes, it was like being inside the neck of an hourglass, with the ability to look backward and forward. Just as an hourglass measures the passage of time, The Vanishing Present gives the reader an historical understanding of Wisconsin’s ecology, and the marked transformation it is presently experiencing as well as future impacts.

— Edith M. Kadlec

Quarterly Review of Biology
Every ecologist, land manager or policymaker in Wisconsin and adjacent areas will this book essential; those living in other parts of the world will wish they had something like it.

— Lee E. Frelich

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226871738
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2010
  • Pages: 507
  • Sales rank: 1,215,670
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald M. Waller is professor of botany and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Thomas P. Rooney is assistant professor of biological sciences at Wright State University. 

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors ix

List of Illustrations xii

List of Plates xiv

1 Assembling the Puzzle Donald M. Waller Thomas P. Rooney 1

Part 1 Perspectives

Introduction 15

2 The View from Man Mound Curt Meine 17

3 The Challenge of Unveiling the Invisible Present John J. Magnuson 31

4 Thinking Like a Flower: Phenology and Climate Change at the Leopold Shack Sarah D. Wright Nina Leopold Bradley 41

Part 2 Changing Plant Communities

Introduction 57

5 Broad-Scale Change in the Northern Forests: From Past to Present David J. Mladenoff Lisa A. Schulte Janine Bolliger 61

6 Plant Species Diversity in the Once and Future Northwoods Thomas P. Rooney Donald M. Waller 75

7 From the Prairie-Forest Mosaic to the Forest: Dynamics of Southern Wisconsin Woodlands David Rogers Thomas P. Rooney Rich Henderson 91

8 Savanna and Prairie: Requiem for the Past, Hope for the Future Mark K. Leach 103

9 Plant Communities of Great Lakes Islands Emmet J. Judziewicz 115

10 Patterns in Wisconsin Lichen Diversity James P. Bennett 127

11 How Have Wisconsin's Lichen Communities Changed? Susan Will-Wolf Matthew P. Nelsen 135

Part 3 Changing Waters and the Land-Water Interface

Introduction 153

12 Great Lakes Ecosystems: Invasions, Food Web Dynamics, and the Challenge of Ecological Restoration James F. Kitchell Greg G. Sass 157

13 Documenting and Halting Declines of Nongame Fishes in Southern Wisconsin David W. Marshall John Lyons 171

14 Change in Wisconsin's Coastal Wetlands Jim Meeker Gary Fewless 183

15 Southern Wisconsin's Herbaceous Wetlands: Their Recent History and Precarious Future Joy B. Zedler Kenneth W. Potter 193

16 Shifting Plants in Wisconsin Lakes Stanley A. Nichols 211

17 Changes in the Wisconsin River and Its Floodplain Monica G. Turner Emily H. Stanley Matthias Bürgi David J. Mladenoff 229

Part 4 Changing Animal Communities

Introduction 253

18 Changes in Mammalian Carnivore Populations Adrian P. Wydeven Charles M. Pils 257

19 Deer as Both a Cause and Reflection of Ecological Change Scott Craven Timothy Van Deelen 273

20 Changes in Amphibian and Reptile Communities Gary S. Casper 287

21 Two Centuries of Changes in Grassland Bird Populations and Their Habitats in Wisconsin David W. Sample Michael J. Mossman 301

22 Wisconsin's Changing Bird Communities Stanley A. Temple John R. Cary 331

23 Changes in the Butterfly and Moth Fauna Les Ferge 339

Part 5 Nature Meets Us: The Social and Political Context

Introduction 353

24 Public Lands and Waters and Changes in Conservation Mike Dombeck 357

25 Urbanization and Ecological Change in Milwaukee County Lawrence A. Leitner John H. Idzikowski Gary S. Casper 363

26 Ecological Footprints of Urbanization and Sprawl: Toward a City Ethic Dave Cieslewicz 381

27 Influences of Policy, Planning, and Management on Ecological Change Stephen M. Born 391

Part 6 Trajectories

Introduction 405

28 Seeking Adaptive Change in Wisconsin's Ecosystems Stephen R. Carpenter 407

29 Forecasting Species Invasions in Wisconsin Lakes and Streams M. Jake Vander Zanden Jeff T. Maxted 423

30 Nonnative Terrestrial Species Invasions S. Kelly Kearns 439

31 The Potential Futures of Wisconsin's Forested Landscapes Robert M. Scheller David J. Mladenoff 453

Conclusion

32 The Big Picture Donald M. Waller 465

Glossary 477

List of Scientific Names 479

Index 495

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