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Natural History, telling the ecological story

Ecological partnerships on the landscape

Natural history is a broad, holistic field of knowledge that explores the life stories of plants, animals, and their ecological relationships, and conveys this information in a way that seems more like narrative rather than objective science. Many natural historians, or students of natural history, are keen observers of nature and have come from the ranks of biological, geological, or geospatial sciences. Through their patient observations of nature, we gain a more detailed view of the harmony and interplay of the tapestry of wild places and wildlife. By examining particular species of flora and fauna in their native habitats, the scholar of natural history tells the story of the evolution of ecological biomes. Natural history covers the globe, with particular attention to the areas of high biodiversity: the tropics. Within the tropical rainforest, wet/dry forests, savannah, and mountain biomes, tremendous diversity of species can be found. In the 19th Century, European scientists were able to travel to the tropical areas of Africa, Asia, and the Americas to catalog scientifically the gamut of species not known to most Europeans. Students of natural history may explore the intersection of human history with animals and plants, for example, the Cedar of Lebanon, or the Sphinx. Human civilization has often developed in areas of high biodiversity, areas which facilitate the domestication of wild species for human purposes. The potato, for example, in Peru its native hearth, can be found in a panoply of sizes, shapes, and colors. Many writers of natural history narratives are scientists recounting their fieldwork experiences in a more subjective voice than their purely scientific literature. Farley Mowat retells the fascinating story of a young biologist studying the Arctic Wolf in Alaska. More than a listing of facts, natural history writing at its best integrates the knowledge and the perspectives gained from the scientific study of the natural world, including biology, botany, zoology, ecology, geology, soil scienc







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