Tag: book review

Is Mammal Watching the Next Birding?

Aside from some highly recognizable species, most mammals are elusive, nocturnal and difficult to spot. And so keeping life lists of mammals has never caught on. But could a new book change that?

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Review: Richard J. King’s The Devil’s Cormorant

Birders: looking for a good read in the new year? Author Richard J. King delves into the realm of cormorants, and finds a tangled web of human-nature connections.

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Review: Ruth DeFries’ The Big Ratchet

Looking for a great conservation read for the new year? Chief scientist Peter Kareiva reviews Ruth DeFries’ The Big Ratchet.

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Review: Relicts of a Beautiful Sea

What good is a pupfish, anyway? Christopher Norment has spent the time in their pools, and has an answer. A review of his latest book, Relicts of a Beautiful Sea.

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Review: Alan Rabinowitz’s An Indomitable Beast

Why has the jaguar fared better than tigers and lions? How can we conserve these big cats in the face of development and other pressures? A remarkable scientific journey leads to a new look at this elusive creature in Alan Rabinowitz’s An Indomitable Beast.

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Great Summer Reads: Paul Sabin’s The Bet

Looking for a good read for the 4th of July weekend? How about a great look at one of conservation’s famous debates? Marty Downs reviews Paul Sabin’s The Bet, an account of the wager between ecologist Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon.

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Great Summer Reads: Roosevelt’s Beast

Looking for a great read this summer? Author Jonathan Adams makes his recommendation, a novel based on Theodore Roosevelt’s legendary (and somewhat disastrous) trip to the “River of Doubt.” A review of Louis Bayard’s Roosevelt’s Beast.

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Review: Cristina Eisenberg’s The Carnivore Way

Can we really expect a growing population to live alongside large predators? Don’t we have a hard enough time with less dangerous critters? Cristina Eisenberg looks at the science, and lays out a blueprint for coexistence between people and predators in her new book, The Carnivore Way.

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Is Natural History Still Relevant for Conservation Science?

As conservation science increasingly draws from sophisticated models and genomics, does natural history still have relevance? Benjamin Kilham, a dyslexic who has made significant contributions to bear research, builds a powerful case for field observation in his book, “Out on a Limb.”

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Cool Green Review: The Drunken Botanist

Raise a glass to the diverse plants behind every glass of beer, wine and bourbon! A New Year’s Eve review of Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist. Enjoy responsibly!

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Tracks and Shadows: The Best Conservation Book in 64 Years?

Conservancy chief scientist Peter Kareiva reviews Harry Greene’s new book Tracks and Shadows, calling it perhaps “the best conservation love poem ever written.”

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Book Week: ‘Field Notes on Science and Nature’

Peer over the shoulder of noted field biologists in this engaging collection of essays on the science — and art — of note taking. And you might just become a better writer, and better scientist, in the process.

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Book Week: John Graves’ ‘Goodbye to a River’

Next up for book week: Senior freshwater scientist Jeff Opperman reviews John Graves’ canoeing classic, Goodbye to a River.

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Book Week: Magnus Nilsson’s ‘Faviken’

Cool Green Science Book Week continues with science writer Matt Miller’s review of a most unusual cookbook, Magnus Nisson’s Faviken. Follow Nilsson’s advice and you’ll know how to prepare lichens, thoughtfully peel a carrot and shoot grouse. And you’ll have fun.

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Review: When Conservation is Successful (Too Successful)

Deerland: America’s Hunt for Ecological Balance and the Essence of Wildness. By Al Cambronne. Lyons Press, 2013. 264 pages.

Last week’s wildlife news brought a familiar parade of depressing subjects: Poachers killed more rhinos, this time at Ol Pejeta Ranch, a reserve specifically fenced and fortified to protect the animals from this fate. Seventy percent of forest elephants have been killed  in the past ten years, and conservationists are finding gruesome scenes of slaughtered herds. And on, and on.

Then a completely different wildlife story came across my desk,  Al Cambronne’s well-reported Deerland. In contrast to the stories of rhinos and forest elephants, Cambronne’s book is about a seemingly hopeless wildlife situation that turned into a wildly successful conservation story.

Perhaps, as it turns out, too successful.

Deerland is about the white-tailed deer, yet another of those North American species that we take for granted today, forgetting a century ago the species was facing similar perils to orangutans today.

Whitetails were slaughtered for their hides and meat. Their forest habitat was logged and leveled. Deer, it appeared, were on their way out.

However, white-tailed deer were more adaptable than many conservationists believed. Given legal protection and effective law enforcement, together with the reforestation of logged habitat, deer populations began rebounding.

And thrived: Today there are more than 100 times more whitetails than a century ago. Think we can’t save declining large wildlife species? Maybe we should look to the whitetail.

Conservationists today are fond of talking about building constituencies. Cambronne argues that no wildlife species has a more effective constituency than the whitetail: an active force of advocates in the form of deer hunters, deer feeders and people who just love having large animals around.

And what about science? White-tailed deer are arguably the most studied wildlife species on the planet, with more 3,260 peer-reviewed papers published on the species between 1985 and 2010.

Policy, constituency, science, measurable success: Everything conservation needs, all working exactly as planned.

And yet, as Cambronne vividly portrays, the white-tailed deer conservation effort has become too much of a good thing, creating a host of new problems in its wake.

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