Scores of wild species and ecosystems around the world face a variety of human-caused threats, from habitat destruction and fragmentation to rapid climate change. But there is hope, and it, too, comes in a most human form: zoos and aquariums. Gathering a diverse, multi-institutional collection of leading zoo and aquarium scientists as well as historians, philosophers, biologists, and social scientists, The Ark and Beyond traces the history and underscores the present role of these organizations as essential conservation actors. It also offers a framework for their future course, reaffirming that if zoos and aquariums make biodiversity conservation a top priority, these institutions can play a vital role in tackling conservation challenges of global magnitude.
While early menageries were anything but the centers of conservation that many zoos are today, a concern with wildlife preservation has been an integral component of the modern, professionally run zoo since the nineteenth century. From captive breeding initiatives to rewilding programs, zoos and aquariums have long been at the cutting edge of research and conservation science, sites of impressive new genetic and reproductive techniques. Today, their efforts reach even further beyond recreation, with educational programs, community-based conservation initiatives, and international, collaborative programs designed to combat species extinction and protect habitats at a range of scales. Addressing related topics as diverse as zoo animal welfare, species reintroductions, amphibian extinctions, and whether zoos can truly be “wild,” this book explores the whole range of research and conservation practices that spring from zoos and aquariums while emphasizing the historical, scientific, and ethical traditions that shape these efforts. Also featuring an inspiring foreword by the late George Rabb, president emeritus of the Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo, The Ark and Beyond illuminates these institutions’ growing significance to the preservation of global biodiversity in this century.
“Since long before medieval times cranes have been considered messengers of the gods, calling annually from on high to remind humans below of the passing years and of their own mortality. Now it is up to humans to take responsibility for controlling our own fate—and also to cry out to protect not only cranes but all the other wonderful creatures that share our increasingly fragile and threatened planetary ecosystem with us." —Paul A. Johnsgard, from the acknowledgments
Accompanied by the stunning photography of Thomas D. Mangelsen, A Chorus of Cranes details the natural history, biology, and conservation issues surrounding the abundant sandhill crane and the endangered whooping crane in North America. Author Paul A. Johnsgard, one of the leading authorities on cranes and crane biology, describes the fascinating social behaviors, beautiful natural habitats, and grueling seasonal migrations that have stirred the hearts of people as far back as medieval times and garnered the crane a place in folklore and mythology across continents.
Johnsgard has substantially updated and significantly expanded his 1991 work Crane Music, incorporating new information on the biology and status of these two North American cranes and providing abbreviated summaries on the other thirteen crane species of the world. The stories of these birds and their contrasting fates provide an instructive and moving history of bird conservation in North America. A Chorus of Cranes is a gorgeous and invaluable resource for crane enthusiasts, birders, natural historians, and conservationists alike.
The University Press of Colorado gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Iain Nicholson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary, Audubon Nebraska, Ron and Judy Parks, Wagon Tongue Creek Farm, and the Trull Foundation toward the publication of this book.
Maintaining the natural diversity of the countless species on Earth is of fundamental importance for the continued existence of life on this planet. Nevertheless, ecosystems are being destroyed, as the cultivation of land for agriculture, industry and housing is intensified and oceans continue to be exploited. The Demise of Diversity: Loss and Extinction deals with biodiversity on this planet and the vital importance of sustaining it—nothing less than the future of life on Earth.
"Extraordinary. . . . Berger is a hero of biology who deserves the highest honors that science can bestow."—Tim Flannery, New York Review of Books
On the Tibetan Plateau, there are wild yaks with blood cells thinner than those of horses’ by half, enabling the endangered yaks to survive at 40 below zero and in the lowest oxygen levels of the mountaintops. But climate change is causing the snow patterns here to shift, and with the snows, the entire ecosystem. Food and water are vaporizing in this warming environment, and these beasts of ice and thin air are extraordinarily ill-equipped for the change. A journey into some of the most forbidding landscapes on earth, Joel Berger’s Extreme Conservation is an eye-opening, steely look at what it takes for animals like these to live at the edges of existence. But more than this, it is a revealing exploration of how climate change and people are affecting even the most far-flung niches of our planet.
Berger’s quest to understand these creatures’ struggles takes him to some of the most remote corners and peaks of the globe: across Arctic tundra and the frozen Chukchi Sea to study muskoxen, into the Bhutanese Himalayas to follow the rarely sighted takin, and through the Gobi Desert to track the proboscis-swinging saiga. Known as much for his rigorous, scientific methods of developing solutions to conservation challenges as for his penchant for donning moose and polar bear costumes to understand the mindsets of his subjects more closely, Berger is a guide par excellence. He is a scientist and storyteller who has made his life working with desert nomads, in zones that typically require Sherpas and oxygen canisters. Recounting animals as charismatic as their landscapes are extreme, Berger’s unforgettable tale carries us with humor and expertise to the ends of the earth and back. But as his adventures show, the more adapted a species has become to its particular ecological niche, the more devastating climate change can be. Life at the extremes is more challenging than ever, and the need for action, for solutions, has never been greater.
We are currently facing the sixth mass extinction of species in the history of life on Earth, biologists claim—the first one caused by humans. Activists, filmmakers, writers, and artists are seeking to bring the crisis to the public’s attention through stories and images that use the strategies of elegy, tragedy, epic, and even comedy. Imagining Extinction is the first book to examine the cultural frameworks shaping these narratives and images.
Ursula K. Heise argues that understanding these stories and symbols is indispensable for any effective advocacy on behalf of endangered species. More than that, she shows how biodiversity conservation, even and especially in its scientific and legal dimensions, is shaped by cultural assumptions about what is valuable in nature and what is not. These assumptions are hardwired into even seemingly neutral tools such as biodiversity databases and laws for the protection of endangered species. Heise shows that the conflicts and convergences of biodiversity conservation with animal welfare advocacy, environmental justice, and discussions about the Anthropocene open up a new vision of multispecies justice. Ultimately, Imagining Extinction demonstrates that biodiversity, endangered species, and extinction are not only scientific questions but issues of histories, cultures, and values.
This book looks at the Kirtland’s warbler and wildlife conservation in a way that no other book has. It looks back on the history of this unique bird, examines the people and policies that kept the warbler from extinction, explores the cult of personality that surrounds it, and examines the challenges of the future—all through the eyes of the people who have acted so passionately on its behalf.
The story of the Kirtland’s warbler is a story of complex relationships between the bird and its environment, the humans who interact with it, and the complex government policies that affect it. And now, just when it appears that the Kirtland’s warbler has recovered for good, a change in its status may send the warbler’s population into a downward spiral once again.
The Last Panda
George B. Schaller University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress QL737.C214S28 1993 | Dewey Decimal 599.74443
Dependent on a shrinking supply of bamboo, hunted mercilessly for its pelt, and hostage to profiteering schemes once in captivity, the panda is on the brink of extinction. Here, acclaimed naturalist George Schaller uses his great evocative powers, and the insight gained by four and a half years in the forests of the Wolong and Tangjiahe panda reserves, to document the plight of these mysterious creatures and to awaken the human compassion urgently needed to save them.
"No scientist is better at letting the rest of us in on just how the natural world works; no poet sees the world with greater clarity or writes about it with more grace. . . . Anyone who genuinely cares for wildlife cannot help being grateful to Schaller—both for his efforts to understand the panda and for the candor with which he reports what has gone so badly wrong in the struggle to save it from extinction."—Geoffrey C. Ward, New York Times Book Review
"Schaller's book is a unique mix of natural history and the politics of conservation, and it makes for compelling reading. . . . Having been in giant panda country myself, I found some of the descriptions of the animals and habitats breathtaking. Schaller describes the daily routines and personalities of the giant pandas he studied (as well as their fates thereafter) as though they were his blood relatives. . . . Schaller's brilliant presentation of the complexities of conservation makes his book a milestone for the conservation movement."—Devra G. Kleiman, Washington Post Book World
"George Schaller's most soulful work, written in journal style with many asides about a creature who evolved only two to three million years ago (about the same time as humans). . . . Here, conservation biology confronts an evil that grinds against hope and shatters the planet's diversity. Written with hope."—Whole Earth Catalog
"A nicely crafted blend of wildlife observation and political-cultural analysis. . . . The Last Panda is a sad chronicle of our failure, so far, to stem the decline of the animal that may be the most beloved on the planet."—Donald Dale Jackson, Smithsonian
If you are a morani (warrior), you have your spear at the ready—you could be the hero, but you will have to wait until the morning light before you can go out and prove yourself. If it is a lion, you want to be the first to spear it—and if the lion turns on you, make sure it mauls you on your chest or stomach, on your face, shins, or throat. Any place where you can show your scars with pride, show the incontrovertible evidence of courage. A scar on your back would be a permanent reminder of cowardice, an ineradicable trace of shame.
Monsters take many forms: from man-eating lions to the people who hunt them, from armed robbers to that midnight knock at the door of a cheap hotel room in Dar es Salaam. And celebrated biologist Craig Packer has faced them all. Head on.
With Lions in the Balance, Packer takes us back into the complex, tooth-and-claw world of the African lion, offering revealing insights into both the lives of one of the most iconic and dangerous animals on earth and the very real risks of protecting them. A sequel to his prize-winning Into Africa—which gave many readers their first experience of fieldwork in Africa, of cooperative lions on dusty savannas, and political kidnappings on the shores of Lake Tanganyika—this new diary-based chronicle of cutting-edge research and heartbreaking corruption will both alarm and entertain. Packer’s story offers a look into the future of the lion, one in which the politics of conservation will require survival strategies far more creative and powerful than those practiced anywhere in the world today.
Packer is sure to infuriate millionaires, politicians, aid agencies, and conservationists alike as he minces no words about the problems he encounters. But with a narrative stretching from far flung parts of Africa to the corridors of power in Washington, DC, and marked by Packer’s signature humor and incredible candor, Lions in the Balance is a tale of courage against impossible odds, a masterly blend of science, adventure, and storytelling, and an urgent call to action that will captivate a new generation of readers.
Joe Roman Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress QH76.R64 2011 | Dewey Decimal 333.9522160973
A lot has changed since the 1970s, when the tiny snail darter went extinct on the Little Tennessee River. Joe Roman helps us understand why we should all be happy about the sweeping law that made these changes possible. Listed is an engaging tale of endangered species in the wild and the people working to save them.
Recent discoveries about wild chimpanzees have dramatically reshaped our understanding of these great apes and their kinship with humans. We now know that chimpanzees not only have genomes similar to our own but also plot political coups, wage wars over territory, pass on cultural traditions to younger generations, and ruthlessly strategize for resources, including sexual partners. In The New Chimpanzee, Craig Stanford challenges us to let apes guide our inquiry into what it means to be human.
With wit and lucidity, Stanford explains what the past two decades of chimpanzee field research has taught us about the origins of human social behavior, the nature of aggression and communication, and the divergence of humans and apes from a common ancestor. Drawing on his extensive observations of chimpanzee behavior and social dynamics, Stanford adds to our knowledge of chimpanzees’ political intelligence, sexual power plays, violent ambition, cultural diversity, and adaptability.
The New Chimpanzee portrays a complex and even more humanlike ape than the one Jane Goodall popularized more than a half century ago. It also sounds an urgent call for the protection of our nearest relatives at a moment when their survival is at risk.
Ranching is as much a part of the West as its wide-open spaces. The mystique of rugged individualism has sustained this activity well past the frontier era and has influenced how we view—and value—those open lands.
Nathan Sayre now takes a close look at how the ranching ideal has come into play in the conversion of a large tract of Arizona rangeland from private ranch to National Wildlife Refuge. He tells how the Buenos Aires Ranch, a working operation for a hundred years, became not only a rallying point for multiple agendas in the "rangeland conflict" after its conversion to a wildlife refuge but also an expression of the larger shift from agricultural to urban economies in the Southwest since World War II.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bought the Buenos Aires Ranch in 1985, removed all livestock, and attempted to restore the land to its "original" grassland in order to protect an endangered species, the masked bobwhite quail. Sayre examines the history of the ranch and the bobwhite together, exploring the interplay of social, economic, and ecological issues to show how ranchers and their cattle altered the land—for better or worse—during a century of ranching and how the masked bobwhite became a symbol for environmentalists who believe that the removal of cattle benefits rangelands and wildlife.
Sayre evaluates both sides of the Buenos Aires controversy—from ranching's impact on the environment to environmentalism's sometimes misguided efforts at restoration—to address the complex and contradictory roles of ranching, endangered species conservation, and urbanization in the social and environmental transformation of the West. He focuses on three dimensions of the Buenos Aires story: the land and its inhabitants, both human and animal; the role of government agencies in shaping range and wildlife management; and the various species of capital—economic, symbolic, and bureaucratic—that have structured the activities of ranchers, environmentalists, and government officials.
The creation of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge has been a symbolic victory for environmentalists, but it comes at the cost of implicitly legitimizing the ongoing fragmentation and suburbanization of Arizona's still-wild rangelands. Sayre reveals how the polarized politics of "the rangeland conflict" have bound the Fish and Wildlife Service to a narrow, ineffectual management strategy on the Buenos Aires, with greater attention paid to increasing tourism from birdwatchers than to the complex challenge of restoring the masked bobwhite and its habitat. His findings show that the urban boom of the late twentieth century echoed the cattle boom of a century before—capitalizing on land rather than grass, humans rather than cattle—in a book that will serve as a model for restoration efforts in any environment.
A dynamic account of ornithological history in America’s heartland.
Today, more than fifty million Americans traipse through wetlands at dawn, endure clouds of mosquitoes, and brave freezing autumn winds just to catch a glimpse of a bird. The human desire to connect with winged creatures defies age and generation. In the Midwest, humans and birds have lived together for more than twelve thousand years. Taking Flight explores how and why people have worshipped, feared, studied, hunted, eaten, and protected the birds that surrounded them.
Author and birder Michael Edmonds has combed archaeological reports, missionaries’ journals, travelers’ letters, early scientific treatises, the memoirs of American Indian elders, and the folklore of hunters, farmers, and formerly enslaved people throughout the Midwest to reveal how our ancestors thought about the very same birds we see today. Whether you’re a casual bird-watcher, a hard-core life-lister, or simply someone who loves the outdoors, you’ll look at birds differently after reading this book.
Today, small populations of timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) quietly inhabit parts of Rutland County in Vermont, and Warren, Washington, and Essex counties in New York. Because the species is endangered, the exact locations of established dens in this area are a closely guarded secret. Insider, naturalist, and author Jon Furman has devoted years to the study of the snake’s past and present range, its habitat and biology, the period in Vermont and upstate New York history during which timber rattlesnakes were ruthlessly hunted for a bounty, and the outlook for this severely threatened species in both states. Soundly anchored in the latest scientific data, Furman proffers an accessible and engaging account of contemporary fieldwork and first-person interviews with herpetologists and old-time bounty hunters. For expert and lay readers interested in snakes and reptiles, northeastern fauna and natural history, conservation, and endangered species, this volume clearly explicates the timber rattlesnake’s biology as well as what happens and what to do when one bites. It also explores the troubling decline of the northeastern population caused by bounty hunting between the 1890s and the early 1970s, other past and present threats to the species’ survival, and what measures are being taken—and additional ones that must be taken—to ensure that timber rattlesnakes survive and thrive in the northeast. Historical and contemporary illustrations bring these reptiles and their world to life. Timber Rattlesnakes in Vermont & New York shines a new light on a maligned and misunderstood species.
"Highly compelling...page-turning read" — TNC's Cool Green Science
We love our pets. Dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and other species have become an essential part of more families than ever before—in North America today, pets outnumber people. Pet owners are drawn to their animal companions through an innate desire to connect with other species. But there is a dark side to our domestic connection with animal life: the pet industry is contributing to a global conservation crisis for wildlife—often without the knowledge of pet owners.
In Unnatural Companions, journalist Peter Christie issues a call to action for pet owners. If we hope to reverse the alarming trend of wildlife decline, pet owners must acknowledge the pets-versus-conservation dilemma and concede that our well-fed and sheltered cats too often prey on small backyard wildlife and seemingly harmless reptiles released into the wild might be the next destructive invasive species. We want our pets to eat nutritionally healthy food, but how does the designer food we feed them impact the environment?
Christie's book is a cautionary tale to responsible pet owners about why we must change the ways we love and care for our pets. It concludes with the positive message that the small changes we make at home can foster better practices within the pet industry that will ultimately benefit our pets’ wild brethren.
"A lucid, informed, and gripping account...a must-read." —Science
"Passionate...a heartfelt and alarming tale." —Publishers Weekly
"Gripping...a well-told and moving tale of environmentalism and conservation." —Kirkus
"Compelling." —Library Journal
In 2006, vaquita, a diminutive porpoise making its home in the Upper Gulf of California, inherited the dubious title of world’s most endangered marine mammal. Nicknamed “panda of the sea” for their small size and beguiling facial markings, vaquitas have been in decline for decades, dying by the hundreds in gillnets intended for commercially valuable fish, as well as for an endangered fish called totoaba. When international crime cartels discovered a lucrative trade in the swim bladders of totoaba, illegal gillnetting went rampant, and now the lives of the few remaining vaquitas hang in the balance.
Author Brooke Bessesen takes us on a journey to Mexico’s Upper Gulf region to uncover the story. She interviewed townspeople, fishermen, scientists, and activists, teasing apart a complex story filled with villains and heroes, a story whose outcome is unclear. When diplomatic and political efforts to save the little porpoise failed, Bessesen followed a team of veterinary experts in a binational effort to capture the last remaining vaquitas and breed them in captivity—the best hope for their survival. In this fast-paced, soul-searing tale, she learned that there are no easy answers when extinction is profitable.
Whether the rescue attempt succeeds or fails, the world must ask itself hard questions. When vaquita and the totoaba are gone, the black market will turn to the next vulnerable species. What will we do then?
In 2020, it will have been twenty-five years since one of the greatest wildlife conservation and restoration achievements of the twentieth century took place: the reintroduction of wolves to the world’s first national park, Yellowstone. Eradicated after the park was established, then absent for seventy years, these iconic carnivores returned to Yellowstone in 1995 when the US government reversed its century-old policy of extermination and—despite some political and cultural opposition—began the reintroduction of forty-one wild wolves from Canada and northwest Montana. In the intervening decades, scientists have studied their myriad behaviors, from predation to mating to wolf pup play, building a one-of-a-kind field study that has both allowed us to witness how the arrival of top predators can change an entire ecosystem and provided a critical window into impacts on prey, pack composition, and much else.
Here, for the first time in a single book, is the incredible story of the wolves’ return to Yellowstone National Park as told by the very people responsible for their reintroduction, study, and management. Anchored in what we have learned from Yellowstone, highlighting the unique blend of research techniques that have given us this knowledge, and addressing the major issues that wolves still face today, this book is as wide-ranging and awe-inspiring as the Yellowstone restoration effort itself. We learn about individual wolves, population dynamics, wolf-prey relationships, genetics, disease, management and policy, newly studied behaviors and interactions with other species, and the rippling ecosystem effects wolves have had on Yellowstone’s wild and rare landscape. Perhaps most importantly of all, the book also offers solutions to ongoing controversies and debates.
Featuring a foreword by Jane Goodall, beautiful images, a companion online documentary by celebrated filmmaker Bob Landis, and contributions from more than seventy wolf and wildlife conservation luminaries from Yellowstone and around the world, Yellowstone Wolves is a gripping, accessible celebration of the extraordinary Yellowstone Wolf Project—and of the park through which these majestic and important creatures once again roam.