This book is a compendium of the authors' writing over the last 30-plus years. Although the individual essays address a variety of issues in ecology and conservation, collectively they share a common theme which describes the challenges confronting ecology and conservation in a changing world, one in which extinctions are occurring, land use and climate are changing, ecological thresholds are being passed, and uncertainty abounds. Ecological Challenges and Conservation Conundrums will prompt readers to think about these issues, perhaps in ways they have not before.
Since 2007 the author has been a regular contributor to the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society. His essays are intended to be easy to read – short, compelling, and thought-provoking. This book is needed now for several reasons. First, the issues addressed, most of which lie at the intersection of ecology and conservation, are still applicable. The blending of ecology and conservation mirrors the author's professional trajectory from academia to conservation organizations. Secondly, reading the essays together fosters a broader perspective on the issues. Readers will be able find out how the ecological systems they strive to conserve are affected by various forces of change, and how this affects the way they should approach the issues.
Collectively, the essays encompass many of the central issues that are shaping ecology and conservation as the world changes. The essays are arranged by topic and each includes a short introduction that updates the context and explains why the essay was written. Six brand new essays have been written specifically for Ecological Challenges and Conservation Conundrums to fill the in the area. In all, this book may help to prompt a shift in how scientists, managers, and the public think about these key issues.
"[...] Frankly, it is a wonderful cornucopia of ecological facts, insights and wisdom. Controversial, humorous, articulate, sceptical, sometimes curmudgeonly, and always entertainingly forthright, John Wiens should be declared an ecological treasure!"
– Des Thompson, BES Bulletin, Volume 48(4), December 2017
Preamble Why This Book?
Essay 1 How Did I Get Here?
Essay 2 Found! The Survivor in the Swamps (2005)
Essay 3 In Defense of Footnotes (2014)
Part I The Challenge
Chapter 1 Conservation and Change
Chapter 2 A Digression on Paradigms
Essay 4 The Power of Paradigms (2014)
Essay 5 Patterns, Paradigms, and Preconceptions (2013)
Essay 6 Fat Times, Lean Times, and Competition Among Predators (1993)
Chapter 3 Equilibrium, Stability, and Change
Essay 7 From Our Southern Correspondent(s) (2011)
Essay 8 Boom and Bust: Lessons from the Outback (2014)
Chapter 4 A Digression on Disturbance
Essay 9 Oil, Oil, Everywhere (2010)
Part II The Forces of Change
Chapter 5 Climate Change and Sea-level Rise
Essay 10 Polar Bears, Golden Toads, and Conservation Futures (2008)
Chapter 6 Land-use Change
Essay 11 Will Land-use Change Erode Our Conservation Gains? (2007)
Essay 12 Landscape Ecology: The Science and the Action (1999)
Chapter 7 Distributional Changes: Invasive Species
Chapter 8 Social, Cultural, and Political Change
Essay 13 Wildlife, People, and Water: Who Wins? (2012)
Chapter 9 Population Growth
Chapter 10 Linkages among Changes
Part III Some Conservation Conundrums
Chapter 11 Variation and History
Essay 14 The Eclipse of History? (2008)
Essay 15 From Our Southern Correspondent(s): Which History? (2013)
Chapter 12 A Digression on Baselines and Targets
Essay 16 Shooting at a Moving Target (2011)
Chapter 13 Ecological Thresholds
Essay 17.Tipping Points in the Balance of Nature (2010)
Chapter 14 Ecological Resilience
Chapter 15.Dealing with Novelty
Essay 18 Black Swans and Outliers (2012)
Essay 19 Moving Outside the Box (2009)
Chapter 16 Uncertainty: A Boon or a Bane?
Essay 20 Taking Risks with the Environment (2012)
Essay 21 Uncertainty and the Relevance of Ecology (2008)
Chapter 17 Prioritization and Triage
Essay 22 Talking about Triage in Conservation (2015)
Chapter 18 Protected Areas: Where the Wild Things Are
Essay 23 Build it and They will Come (2013)
Essay 24 The Dangers of Black-and-White Conservation (2007)
Chapter 19 Ecosystem Services and the Value of Nature
Essay 25 What's so New About Ecosystem Services? (2007)
Part IV Doing Conservation
Chapter 20 What is it We are Trying to Conserve?
Essay 26 Be Careful What You Wish For (2014)
Essay 27 Are Bird Communities Real? (1980)
Essay 28 A Metaphor Meets an Abstraction: The Issue of Ecosystem Health (2015)
Chapter 21 Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
Essay 29 Is ‘Monitoring' a Dirty Word? (2009)
Essay 30 The Place of Long-term Studies in Ornithology (1984)
Essay 31 What Use is Small Data in a Big Data World? (2013)
Chapter 22 A Digression on Words
Essay 32 Word Processing versus Writing (1983, 2011)
Chapter 23 Debates in Ecology and Conservation
Essay 33 On Skepticism and Criticism in Ornithology (1981)
Essay 34 The Demise of Wildness? (2007)
Chapter 24 What Lies Behind the Debates? Philosophy, Values, and Ethics
Chapter 25 A Digression on Advocacy in Conservation
Essay 35 Scientific Responsibility and Responsible Ecology (1997)
Part V Concluding Comments
Chapter 26 Whither Ecology and Conservation in a Changing World?
Essay 36 It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times (2009)
Essay 37 Being Green Isn't Easy (2010)
Essay 38 Stewart Udall and the Future of Conservation (2010)
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