OOS 33 - Natural History: The Basis for Ecological Understanding and a Global Sustainable Society

Wednesday, August 5, 2009: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Brazos, Albuquerque Convention Center
Joshua J. Tewksbury, Future Earth
Joshua J. Tewksbury, Future Earth
Natural history – the observational, descriptive, and comparative study of the natural world – forms the foundation of ecological research, the grist for the creation of both ecological and evolutionary theory, and the backbone for conservation. Natural history is also a key pathway to nurture fundamental human emotional connection to the non-human world. Our sense of place, and our society’s willingness to prioritize open space, natural landscapes, and the species that inhabit these areas, depends upon a broad base of amateur and professional naturalists. Yet in the last 75 years, we have seen a steady loss in the practice of natural history in research, education, and in society. In this symposium, we will bring together naturalists from across disciplines and with different perspectives to examine the consequence of the loss of natural history, and to discuss the future of natural history in society, research, and in education. We are particularly interested in exploring the importance of the professional naturalist in the field of ecology. The symposium will begin with an exploration of the deep roots of natural history, and a critical examination of the causes and consequences of the decline in natural history from a contemporary (Thomas Fleischner), and historical perspective (John Anderson). We will then bridge to examine the importance of direct experience in creating ecological knowledge (Anne Solomon), and the consequences of the loss of this direct experience, taken from an anthropological perspective (Paul Dayton). These talks will allow us to explore the consequences for conservation research and communication (Dee Boersma), for the mission of global environemental NGOs (Peter Kareiva) and the furtherance of conservation policy (Jane Lubchenco) and for the future of agriculture, education, and sustainability (Gary Nabhan). Finally, we will hear about natural history from the perspective of a President of a Major research University (David Schmidly) and we will close with a proposal for a natural history curriculum for our country (Carlos Martinez del Rio and Tewksbury). The symposium will end with a panel discussion focused on the future of natural history in ecology and the importance of natural history for sustainability. We will pose explicit questions to the audience, and inviting them to help chart a course for a new initiative – the Natural History Network (www.naturalhistorynetwork.org) - dedicated to the promotion of natural history.
1:30 PM
 What is natural history, and why does it matter?
Thomas L. Fleischner, Prescott College
1:50 PM
 Archival natural history: A view from the corner office
David Schmidly, University of New Mexico; Christine Hice, University of New Mexico
2:10 PM
 The history of natural history
John G. Anderson, College of the Atlantic
2:30 PM
 Training poetic ecologists: Why natural history is critical to advancing contemporary ecology and conservation
Anne K. Salomon, Simon Fraser University; Kirsten Rowell, University of Washington
3:10 PM
3:20 PM
 Where will the next generation of conservationists come from?
Peter Kareiva, University of California, Los Angeles
4:00 PM
 A natural history curriculum for cyborgs
Carlos Martinez del Rio, University of Wyoming; Joshua J. Tewksbury, Future Earth
4:20 PM
 A return to observational ecology
Raphael Sagarin, University of Arizona; Aníbal Pauchard, Universidad de Concepción, Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB)
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