Sorensen asks how it came about that, within the span of forty years, the American entomological community developed from a few gentlemen naturalists with primary links to Europe to a thriving scientific community exercising world leadership in entomological science. He investigates the relationship between American and European entomology, the background of American entomologists, the implications of entomological theory, and the specific links between 19th-century American society and the rapid institutional growth and advances in theoretical and applied entomology.
By the 1880s the entomologists constituted the largest single group of American zoologists and the largest group of ecologists in the world. While rooted in the British natural history tradition, these individuals developed a distinctive American style of entomological investigation. Inspired by the concept of the balance of nature, they excelled in field investigations of North American insects with special emphasis on insect pests that threatened crop production in a market-oriented agriculture. During this period, entomologists described over ten times as many North American insect species as had been previously named, and they consolidated their findings in definitive collections. Employing evolutionary theory, they contributed to the growing understanding of insect migration, mimicry, seasonal dimorphism, and the symbiotic relationship of plant and animal species. Americans also led in the revision of insect taxonomy according to the new principles. Their employment of entomological findings in the practical control of agricultural pests set new standards worldwide. Initially ridiculed as eccentric bug hunters, American entomologists eventually achieved stature as agricultural advisers and as investigators into the origin and nature of life.
Based primarily on the correspondence of American entomologists, Brethren of the Net draws together information from diverse sources to illuminate an important chapter in the history of American science.
Riley propelled entomology from a collector’s parlor hobby of the nineteenth century to the serious study of insects in the Modern Age
This definitive biography is the first full account of a fascinating American scientist whose leadership created the modern science of entomology that recognizes both the essential role of insects in natural systems and their challenge to the agricultural food supply that sustains humankind. Charles Valentine Riley: Founder of Modern Entomology tells the story of how Riley (1843–1895), a young British immigrant to America—with classical schooling, only a smattering of natural history knowledge, and with talent in art and writing but no formal training in science—came to play a key role in the reorientation of entomology from the collection and arrangement of specimens to a scientific approach to insect evolution, diversity, ecology, and applied management of insect pests.
Drawing on Riley’s personal diaries, family records, correspondence, and publications, the authors trace Riley’s career as farm laborer, Chicago journalist, Missouri State Entomologist, chief federal entomologist, founder of the National Insect Collection, and initiator of the professional organization that became the Entomological Society of America. Also examined in detail are his spectacular campaigns against the Rocky Mountain Locust that stalled western migration in the 1870s, the Grape Phylloxera that threatened French vineyards in the 1870s and 80s, the Cotton Worm that devastated southern cotton fields after the Civil War, and the Cottony Cushion Scale that threatened the California citrus industry in the 1880s. The latter was defeated through importation of the Vedalia Beetle from Australia, the spectacular first example of biological control of an invasive insect pest by its introduced natural enemy.
A striking figure in appearance and deed, Riley combined scientific, literary, artistic, and managerial skills that enabled him to influence every aspect of entomology. A correspondent of Darwin and one of his most vocal American advocates, he discovered the famous example of mimicry of the Monarch butterfly by the Viceroy, and described the intricate coevolution of yucca moths and yuccas, a complex system that fascinates evolutionary scientists to this day. Whether applying evolutionary theory to pest control, promoting an American silk industry, developing improved spray technologies, or promoting applied entomology in state and federal government and to the public, Riley was the central figure in the formative years of the entomology profession. In addition to showcasing his own renderings of the insects he investigated, this comprehensive account provides fresh insight into the personal and public life of an ingenious, colorful, and controversial scientist, who aimed to discover, understand, and outsmart the insects.
Winner of the 2015John Burroughs Medal, the 2015 WILLA Award for Best Creative Nonfiction, and finalist for the 2015 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards
In the exploding world of citizen science, hundreds of thousands of volunteers are monitoring climate change, tracking bird migrations, finding stardust for NASA, and excavating mastodons. The sheer number of citizen scientists, combined with new technology, has begun to shape how research gets done. Non-professionals become acknowledged experts: dentists turn into astronomers and accountants into botanists.
Diary of a Citizen Scientist is a timely exploration of the phenomenon of citizen science, told through the lens of nature writer Sharman Apt Russell’s yearlong study of a little-known species, the Western red-bellied tiger beetle. In a voice both humorous and lyrical, Russell recounts her persistent and joyful tracking of an insect she calls “charismatic,” “elegant,” and “fierce.” Patrolling the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico, collector’s net in hand, she negotiates the realities of climate change even as she celebrates the beauty of a still-wild and rural landscape.
Russell’s self-awareness—of her occasionally-misplaced confidence, her quest to fill in “that blank spot on the map of tiger beetles,” and her desire to become newly engaged in her life—creates a portrait not only of the tiger beetle she tracks, but of the mindset behind self-driven scientific inquiry. Falling in love with the diversity of citizen science, she participates in crowdsourcing programs that range from cataloguing galaxies to monitoring the phenology of native plants, applauds the growing role of citizen science in environmental activism, and marvels at the profusion of projects around the world.
Diary of a Citizen Scientist offers its readers a glimpse into the transformative properties of citizen science—and documents the transformation of the field as a whole.
In a Patch of Fireweed
Bernd HEINRICH Harvard University Press, 1984 Library of Congress QL31.H42A33 1984 | Dewey Decimal 574
A World of Insects
Ring T Cardé Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress QL496.4W67 2011 | Dewey Decimal 595.7
A World of Insects showcases classic works on insect behavior, physiology, and ecology published over half a century by Harvard University Press authors Costa, Dethier, Eisner, Goff, Heinrich, Hölldobler, Roeder, Ross, Seeley, von Frisch, Waldbauer, Wilson, and Winston.