This Land Is Your LandThe Story of Field Biology in America

This Land Is Your LandThe Story of Field Biology in America

Michael J. Lannoo

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226358475

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

The golden age of field biology in North America lasted from the last half of the nineteenth century until perhaps just after the Second World War. During this time, natural history surveys were organized, museums constructed to house their specimens, and field stations cobbled together to civilize the experience. At this time, many of the finest field biologists in history came out of the U.S. Midwest. They grew up at a time when the Midwest was frontier; when hunting and fishing and trapping were a part of a boy’s life, and to be successful you had to know the habits and habitats of the animals you sought. Today, field biology is enjoying a resurgence due to several factors, including the recognition that ecological relationships are complicated—much more complicated than even our most sophisticated computer-generated statistical/mathematical models can offer. It is now time for field biologists to explore their origins, claim their history, and ask fundamental existential questions such as where did we come from, do we have a cohesive story we can tell, and do we have a legacy? This book offers some answers to these questions. It is a history of field biology in North America and what it meant to the world. It is a bottom-up, field-based, rubber booted history of a life style conducted by some of its most talented early practitioners. The world today is a far better place today than it would have been otherwise, thanks to field biologists and the consequences of their discoveries.