This is an innovative and collaborative life history of one of Alaska's pioneering wildlife biologists. David R. Klein has been a leader in promoting habitat studies across wildlife research in Alaska, and this is his first-hand account of how science and biological fieldwork has been carried out in Alaska in the last sixty years. This book tells the stories of how Klein did his science and the inspiration behind the research, while exposing the thinking that underlies particular scientific theories. In addition, this book shows the evolution of Alaska's wildlife management regimes from territorial days to statehood to the era of big oil. The first portion of the book is comprised of stories from Klein's life collected during oral history interviews, while the latter section contains essays written by Klein about philosophical topics of importance to him, such as eco-philosophy, the definition of wilderness, and the morality of hunting. Many of Klein's graduate students have gone on to become successful wildlife managers themselves, in Alaska and around the globe. Through The Making of an Ecologist, Klein's outlook, philosophy, and approach toward sustainability, wildlife management, and conservation can now inspire even more readers to ensure the survival of our fragile planet in an ever-changing global society.
David R. Klein is professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He was leader of the Alaska Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Alaska from 1962 until 1991, and then a senior scientist with the unit until his retirement in 1997. He is the author of more than one hundred and twenty-five published articles, papers, and book chapters.
Karen Brewster is a research associate with the Oral History Program at the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her books include The Whales, They Give Themselves: Conversations with Harry Brower, Sr. and Boots, Bikes, and Bombers: Adventures of Alaska Conservationist Ginny Hill Wood, both from the University of Alaska Press.
"In an attempt to identify the significant threats to wildlife and management, [Klein] outlines his belief that there is an eroding interest in wildlife values and ethics and a lack of understanding surrounding the complexity of natural systems. Ethical guidelines exist in the wildlife management profession. Nevertheless, he makes a critical point that as professionals, our loyalty should stretch far beyond our employer [...] Although The Making of an Ecologist is indeed a biography, Klein provides excellent advice to aspiring, young ecologists, discussing contentious ethical issues in wildlife management, citing many of his personal experiences. After detailing his early influence and lifelong research, he concludes his biography with a solid base – outlining relevant advice to issues and solutions for current graduate students and aspiring ecologists."
– The Journal of Wildlife Management
"While this is an important legacy document of the extraordinary career and life of Dr. David Klein, it is much more than that. It provides important context and insights during a critical period in the history of Alaskan wildlife conservation that might otherwise be lost to time. His essays on ethics and philosophy are timeless and provide insights seldom encountered in the field of wildlife conservation. We can learn from his exemplary commitment to science-based wildlife and their habitats through thoughtful and balanced advocacy and public outreach."