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Field Notes on Science and Nature

Popular Science

Edited By: Michael R Canfield

297 pages, 87 col illus, 43 halftones, 1 tab

Harvard University Press

Hardback | Jun 2011 | #190204 | ISBN-13: 9780674057579
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £21.95 $29/€25 approx

About this book

Once in a great while, as the New York Times once noted, a naturalist writes a book that changes the way people look at the living world. John James Audubon's Birds of America, published in 1838, was one. Roger Tory Peterson's 1934 Field Guide to the Birds was another. How does such insight into nature develop?

Pioneering a new niche in the study of plants and animals in their native habitat, this book allows readers to peer over the shoulders and into the notebooks of a dozen eminent field workers, to study firsthand their observational methods, materials, and fleeting impressions. What did George Schaller note when studying the lions of the Serengeti? What lists did Kenn Kaufman keep during his 1973 "big year"? How does Piotr Naskrecki use relational databases and electronic field notes? In what way is Bernd Heinrich's approach "truly Thoreauvian," in E. O. Wilson's view?

Recording observations in the field is an indispensable scientific skill, but researchers are not generally willing to share their personal records with others. Here, for the first time, are reproductions of actual pages from notebooks. And in essays abounding with fascinating anecdotes, the authors reflect on the contexts in which the notes were taken. Covering disciplines as diverse as ornithology, entomology, ecology, paleontology, anthropology, botany, and animal behavior, the book offers specific examples that professional naturalists can emulate to fine-tune their own field methods, along with practical advice that amateur naturalists and students can use to document their adventures.

There is no other book like this--one that takes readers out of the laboratory and into the field to learn the basics of natural history and the fun of observing nature. -George Schaller


Foreword: Edward O. Wilson

Introduction: Michael R. Canfield

The Pleasure of Observing, George B. Schaller

Untangling the Bank, Bernd Heinrich

One and a Half Cheers for Listmaking, Kenn Kaufman

A Reflection of the Truth, Roger Kitching

Linking Researchers across Generations, Anna K. Behrensmeyer

The Spoken and the Unspoken, Karen L. Kramer

In the Eye of the Beholder, Jonathan Kingdon

Why Sketch? Jenny Keller

The Evolution and Fate of Botanical Field Books, James L. Reveal

Note-Taking for Pencilophobes, Piotr Naskrecki

Letters to the Future, John D. Perrine and James L. Patton

Why Keep a Field Notebook? Erick Greene




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Michael R. Canfield is Lecturer on Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

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