Adopt “Observation and Ecology”

Post from Rafe Sagarin – an ESA Natural History Section member

I wanted to encourage you to adopt our book, “Observation and Ecology: Broadening the Scope of Science to Understand a Complex World” (2012 Island Press) for your next class in biology, ecology or environmental studies.
This compact and affordable volume ($30 or less from Amazon and other retailers in paper or e-reader) tells the story of how the life sciences are changing to cope with the rate and extent of changes to our planet with a compelling narrative and a new perspective that your students won’t find in existing texts or papers.  We have also brought in short text box contributions from a fantastic array of well-known and emerging voices in ecology, natural history, and environmental studies, including Geerat Vermeij, Stuart Pimm, Julie Lockwood, Tom Stohlgren, Gary Nabhan, and our own section Chair, Kirsten Rowell!  We think this book will generate excitement and engaged discussion among your students.

So far the comments and reviews we have received highlight that the book is easy to read, engaging, and provocative. We think those characteristics are particularly appropriate to motivate undergrad and grad students who are entering careers in ecology and other natural sciences.

To help your incorporation of this book, we have created a study guide that captures both the content of each chapter, but also promotes “Beyond the Book” project-based learning with suggested research projects and activities that can be done in small groups or in lab sessions:

Some examples of classes that could benefit from adopting “Observation and Ecology” include:
·         Introductory Ecology: will serve as a supplementary text with a more holistic treatment of ecology than earlier supplemental texts (e.g., Gotelli’s excellent, “A Primer of Ecology” is more focused on theory and models)

·         Ecology Seminar (upper division undergrad, mixed ugrad/grad): provides numerous examples of cutting edge ecological research in relation to environmental change

·         Philosophy of Biology (undergrad): provides a primer on basic philosophical concepts (Karl Popper, “strong inference”, deduction, etc.) as they are applied to real studies

·         Introductory Environmental Science (undergrad): uses real world examples to connect ecological observation, environmental science, and policy

·         Ecological Methodology (ugrad/grad): not a methods book, but clearly contextualizes the challenges, opportunities, and outcomes of newer methodologies using real examples

·         Environmental Policy and Conservation Biology (ugrad): illustrates with cogent examples the overlap between natural history driven science and policy outcomes

·         Environmental Education (ugrad/grad): takes a non-theoretical approach to the linkage between nature experience and observation and educational outcomes at multiple developmental levels

Island Press would be happy to furnish instructors with exam copies:, and Aníbal and I would be happy to work with you on integrating the book material with your course, and of course to make guest appearances in your class!
Attached you will find a flier with discount coupon for the book. More commentary on the book is at
Please don’t hesitate to write us if you have any questions,
Best wishes to all of you for a great 2013,
Rafe Sagarin
Aníbal Pauchard


Letter from the Natural History Section Officers

Happy New Year ESA Natural History Section Members!

I am pleased to announce that we have launched our Natural History Section Website.  It is set up as a blog, so others can post relevant updates, events and advertisements.  Please check it out and give us some feedback!

We are also excited to report that last years’ book auction was a smashing success!  For this upcoming ESA 2013 Minneapolis meeting, we will do a similar auction and more!  The auction will be expanded to include natural history items that members want to donate.  And because of our members’ deep pockets and intense interest in natural history books, we are able to offer our first Natural History Student Award!  Please see more on this on the awards page of our website.

We are hoping the ESA 2013 annual meeting will be a repeat of growth and excitement for our section.  We will have a Natural History Section booth again.  This took some volunteer time by members (thank you), but it was a valuable recruitment tool and well worth the effort.  This year at the booth we will display auction items, news, events and opportunities that are relevant to Natural History, as well as a brief biography and overview of the research of the Natural History Student awardee. Make sure to find us if you have news or opportunities you would like to post them.  And please consider volunteering for an hour or two at the booth.

Of course there will be an annual Natural History Section mixer (date and location to be announced), so stay tuned!

Check back with us and feel free to contact us if you would like to post something.

All the Best,

Kirsten Rowell, Chair

Terry Wheeler, Co-Chair

Karen Reagan, Secretary