Thoreau’s incredible eye and appreciation for the natural world have rightly led to his reputation as one of the first American ecologists. Before he could turn his botanical records into a book, Thoreau succumbed to tuberculosis, and his copious, arguably obsessive writings on the natural world languished for some time, Emerson noting that “Thoreau had squandered his talents on the woods” and had become “the captain of a huckleberry party.” But his writings have since been revered by many, and are now part of the canon of conservation biology and climate change. The meticulous notes Thoreau kept on flowers in Concord have in the hands of Richard Primack and his students evolved from charming and detailed records to actual data sets.
Thoreau would no doubt be saddened to learn that 27 percent of the plant species he documented have disappeared, and another 36 percent are in such low numbers that their disappearance is imminent. Concord's mean annual temperature though has climbed by 4 degrees, and the flowers and trees each spring awaken far earlier than they did 150 years ago. Climate change is wreaking havoc on Walden, as it is the world over, and in this wonderful tour of Thoreau’s data points Primack shows us how history informs the past, and how backyard natural history is one of the most important areas of scientific contribution, as it has been for centuries.
|Publisher:||University of Chicago Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Richard B. Primack is professor of biology at Boston University. He is the author of Essentials of Conservation Biology and A Primer of Conservation Biology and coauthor of Tropical Rain Forests: An Ecological and Biogeographical Comparison. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
1. Borneo to Boston
2. A Hard Rain
3. Thoreau, Scientist
4. Phantom Plants
5. Wild Apples and Other Missing Flowers
6. The Strife in Loosestrife
7. The Message of the Birds
8. Birds in the Mist (Net)
9. Bees and Butterflies
10. From Insects to Fish to People
11. Clouds of Mosquitoes
12. The Frog Chorus
13. Running in the Sun and Rain
14. A New Earth
Afterword: Citizen Science
Append: Species Mentioned