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Johns Hopkins University Press
Discovering the Chesapeake: The History of an Ecosystem / Edition 1

Discovering the Chesapeake: The History of an Ecosystem / Edition 1


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With its rich evolutionary record of natural systems and long history of human activity, the Chesapeake Bay provides an excellent example of how a great estuary has responded to the powerful forces of human settlement and environmental change. Discovering the Chesapeake explores all of the long-term changes the Chesapeake has undergone and uncovers the inextricable connections among land, water, and humans in this unusually delicate ecosystem.

Edited by a historian, a paleobiologist, and a geologist at the Johns Hopkins University and written for general readers, the book brings together experts in various disciplines to consider the truly complex and interesting environmental history of the Chesapeake and its watershed. Chapters explore a variety of topics, including the natural systems of the watershed and their origins; the effects of human interventions ranging from Indian slash-and-burn practices to changing farming techniques; the introduction of pathogens, both human and botanical; the consequences of the oyster's depletion; the response of bird and animal life to environmental factors introduced by humans; and the influence of the land and water on the people who settled along the Bay.

Discovering the Chesapeake, originating in two conferences sponsored by the National Science Foundation, achieves a broad historical and scientific appreciation of the various processes that shaped the Chesapeake region.

"Today's Chesapeake Bay is only some ten thousand years old. What a different world it was... when the region was the home of the ground sloth, giant beaver, dire wolf, mastodon, and other megafauna. In the next few thousand years, the ice may form again and the Bay will once more be the valley of the Susquehanna, unless, of course, human-induced changes in climate create some other currently unpredictable condition."—from the Introduction

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801864681
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 03/21/2001
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Philip D. Curtin is a professor emeritus in the Department of History, Grace S. Brush is a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, and George W. Fisher is a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University.

Table of Contents



List of Contributors


Chapter 1 The Chesapeake Ecosystem - Its Geological Heritage

George W. Fisher and Jerry R. Schubel

Chapter 2 Climate and Climate History in the Chesapeake Bay Region

John E. Kutzbach and Thompson Webb III

Chapter 3 Forests before and after the Colonial Encounter

Grace S. Brush

Chapter 4 Human Influences on the Physical Characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay

Donald W. Pritchard and Jerry Schubel

Chapter 5 A Long-Term History of Terrestrial Birds and Mammals in the Chesapeake-Susquehanna Watershed

David W. Steadman

Chapter 6 Living along the "Great Shellfish Bay" - The Relationship between Prehistoric Peoples and the Chesapeake

Henry M. Miller

Chapter 7 Human Biology of Populations in the Chesapeake Watershed

Douglas H. Ubelaker and Philip D. Curtin

Chapter 8 A Useful Arcadia - European Colonists as Biotic Factors in Chesapeake Forests Timothy Silver

Chapter 9 Reconstructing the Colonial Environment of the Upper Chesapeake Watershed

Robert D. Mitchell, Warren R. Hofstra, and Edward F. Connor

Chapter 10 Human Influences on Aquatic Resources in the Chesapeake Bay

Victor S. Kennedy and Kent Mountford Chapter 11 Land Use, Settlement Patterns, and the Impact of European Agriculture, 1620-1820

Lorena S. Walsh

Chapter 12 Chesapeake Gardens and Botanical Frontiers

Anne E. Yentsch and James L. Reveal

Chapter 13 Genteel Erosion - The Ecological Consequences of Agrarian Reform in the Chesapeake, 1730-1840

Carville Earle and Ronald Hoffman

Chapter 14 Farming, Disease, and Change in the Chesapeake Ecosystem

G. Terry Sharrer

Chapter 15 Bird Populations of the Chesapeake Bay Region 350 Years of Change

James F. Lynch

Commentary - Reading the Palimpsest

William Cronon


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