392 pages, Figs
Analyses what biodiversity means to the biologists who operate in broader society on its behalf, drawing on in-depth interviews with the scientists most active today in the mission to preserve this biological richness. Takacs explores how and why these biologists shaped the concept of biodiversity and promoted it to society at large – examining their definitions of biodiversity; their opinions about spirituality and its role in scientific work; the notion of biodiversity as something of intrinsic value; and their views on biophilia, E.O. Wilson's idea that humans are genetically predisposed to love nature. Takacs also looks at the work of the twentieth-century forerunners of today's conservation biologists – Leopold, Elton, Carson, and Ehrenfield – and points out their contributions to the current debates. An extended section profiles the thoughts and work of E.O. Wilson.
An important contribution, a first distanced examination of a critical, modern topic by a scholarly, honest broker.--E. O. Wilson, Harvard University "'The Idea of Biodiversity' attempts to build a more sophisticated awareness of the role of science in society...Takacs wishes to deconstruct biodiversity constructively, to help the reader think more critically about the current discourse surrounding biodiversity. This is the greatest strength of the book and the main reason why biologists and citizens would benefit from reading it."--Terra Nova "Using biodiversity as a touchstone, Takacs weaves a compelling argument about fusion of conservative biology and politics. With clear, startling, beautiful prose, he directs ecologists' attention to crucial issues in and outside of their discipline. His ability to portray multiple perspectives is inspiring and thought-provoking, his style compelling and engaging. "--'Ecoscience' "David Takacs is a skilled work master... his work should be on professional use to natural resources and environmental scientists and managers, including college-level instructors and students."--'Forest Science'
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David Takacs is assistant professor in the Department of Earth Systems Science and Policy at California State University at Monterey Bay.