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Boom and Bust: Bird Stories for a Dry Country

Edited By: Libby Robin, Leo Joseph and Rob Heinshohn

299 pages, Figs


Hardback | Sep 2009 | #178642 | ISBN-13: 9780643096066
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £34.50 $45/€39 approx

About this book

In "Boom and Bust", the authors draw on the natural history of Australia's charismatic birds to explore the relations between fauna, people and environment. They consider changing ideas about deserts and how these have helped to understand birds and their behaviour in this driest of continents. The book describes the responses of animals and plants to environmental variability and stress. It is also a cultural concept, capturing the patterns of change wrought by humans in Australia, where landscapes began to become cultural about 55,000 years ago as ecosystems responded to Aboriginal management.

In 1788, the British settlement brought, almost simultaneously, both agricultural and industrial revolutions to a land previously managed by fire for hunting. How have birds responded to this second dramatic invasion? "Boom and Bust" is also a tool for understanding global change. How can Australians in the 21st century better understand how to continue to live in this land as its conditions are dynamically unfolding in response to the major anthropogenic changes to the whole Earth system? This interdisciplinary collection is written in a straightforward and accessible style. Many of the writers are practising field specialists, and have woven their personal field work into the stories they tell about the birds.

The book features: fascinating stories of extraordinary adaptive behaviours in a range of bird species; leading writers who draw on ideas in both science and the humanities to tell the stories of birds and people in the world's driest inhabited continent; and stories about environmental change - natural and cultural.There are responses in birds to the two great invasions of humans to Australia: 55 000 years ago and since 1788.

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Libby Robin is a historian of ideas at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University and the Centre for Historical Research, National Museum of Australia, Canberra. She is the author of the prize-winning books How a Continent Created a Nation (2007) and The Flight of the Emu: A Hundred Years of Australian Omithology (2001).
Leo Joseph is Director of the Australian National Wildlife Collection at CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra.
Rob Heinsohn is Associate Professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, where his work focuses on the evolutionary ecology and conservation biology of birds.

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