[CT Birds] can't help but mention...

Stephen Broker ls.broker at cox.net
Sun Oct 14 21:16:16 EDT 2012

I enjoyed, as always, Paul Carrier's post of earlier today.  The issues of window strikes, human impacts on the environment, species losses, overpopulation, and indigenous peoples and their relation with nature all deserve our attention.  I do, however, want to make reference to two book publications - one from the early 1990s, the other from three years ago - that address the issue of "the balance of nature."  

The first is Stuart L. Pimm's 1991 book, The Balance of Nature?  Ecological Issues in the Conservation of Species and Communities. Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 434pp.  The second is John Kricher's 2009 book, The Balance of Nature:  Ecology's Enduring Myth. Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 237pp.  

Each author takes a close look at the development of ecological thought.  Pimm writes about population resilience, variability in space and time, food web structure, community assembly, species introductions, extinctions, stability, and disturbance.  Kricher provides an overview of changing paradigms in ecology over time and writes about the constant flux of nature.  Both writers reject the notion of a balance of nature and maintain that there never has been a balance of nature.  Both books are good reads and are very applicable to our thinking about bird populations.  It's also worth noting that Kricher's book jacket carries quotes from Bob Askins (Connecticut College) and Os Schmitz (Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies).

There's no question that human impacts on the environment add an unprecedented source of disturbance to Earth's dynamic, evolved natural systems.  One term that has been used by others to best describe forest history, for example, is a "shifting mosaic."      

Steve Broker (Cheshire):

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