Chris J. Durden
drdn at mail.utexas.edu
Sat Mar 30 20:14:10 EST 2002
Two big differences between Alberta and New Jersey, that affect natural
history education, are ethnic background and educational content. They are
both closely related.
Canada's strong British and European ethnic heritage, encouraged and
nurtured, leads to a different perspective on the interaction of people and
nature. The British and European ethnic heritage in New Jersey has been
actively melted into the pot and is very soon lost in the American-born
generations who try so hard to fit in.
Education in natural history has been different too. For some reason
chemistry, biochemistry, human biology, DNA, genetics and similar advanced
topics dominate the teaching of biology in states like New Jersey. In
Canadian schools, at least in the not too distant past, natural history has
been used as a sympathetic introduction to biology and science in general.
They may still be showing some of my dad's films in class (Mountain
Ecology, Colour of Life etc. from the NFB).
Take a trip to Canada and ask the "person on the street" about nature.
It is my impression there is a higher awareness, understanding and
appreciation North of the border than South of it. Government sponsored and
assisted programming in Education, The Arts, Broadcasting, Film and
Television have had a lot to do with this.
At 05:14 PM 3/30/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>I am stunned by the apparent wealth of natural history publications for
>Alberta. It sounds like Alberta must be the center of civilization.
>Who publishes these gems, and how markets them to a population that must
>than 3 million people.
>In New Jersey (population almost 8 million), we can't seem to interest
>publishers in an illustrated flora or flora series, much less books on
>particular subgroups of insects, other than butterflies. We did just get a
>spectacular little HERP guide with photos.
>Barb Beck wrote:
> > Hi all,
> > We have a lot of people here paying attention to bugs. In fact a book on
> > bugs topped the BEST SELLER LIST in Edmonton for several weeks a few years
> > ago. I am speaking about something by our very own Nature Nut John Acorn.
> > Last I heard John's little butterfly book had outsold a well known popular
> > NA field guide - and that is just in Alberta!! We have a lovely field guide
> > to the Tiger Beetles by that same character. It is an excellent book and
> > allows us to easily identify all of these guys. He is working on
> > damselflys, dragonflies, snazzy moths, and it is too early in the morning
> > for this old brain to remember some of the others. We have a pair of our
> > univeristy students, Christine Rice and Jon Hornug who have been going
> > around the province enthusiastically spreading their love of
> dragonflies and
> > damselflies. They have developed a good local key and anybody who has heard
> > them talk wants to get out and see as many of these bugs as they can.
> > All of it boils down to good field guides which can be used easily. With
> > birds you can start with a guide which covers the entire country (although
> > the eastern US has always had the luxury of a local guide in the Peterson
> > series where the eastern birds are split off and then the far greater
> > diversity in the rest of the country is dumped into a Western guide) A
> > of people (like me) did not get into really trying to identify all the
> > butterflies here until others did all the work for us lazy soles and
> gave us
> > good books to learn them easily. The problem with beetles is even more
> > with the butterflies - there are a lot more of them. The Peterson
> guide can
> > only get us usually to genus and we have to be happy at that.
> > These books by people like Acorn, Bird, Kondla, Pike, Sperling, Hilchie,
> > Guppy and Shepard are written by people who really want to share what they
> > know about these creatures and not to make a lot of money slapping together
> > something which is supposed to cover a huge area (but does so inadequately)
> > in the hopes of having a lot of customers. They realize that we cannot
> > protect what we do not know and what is not appreciated by enough people to
> > matter to politicians. The books mentioned above are mainly labours of
> > and I am sure did not even start to cover the authors time invested. Best I
> > can do is encourage people to use them.
> > If you know a group of insects well in your area find a local publisher OR
> > put together a web site to share your information with others. Get the
> > information out there in a convenient form and people will use it.
> > Barb
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Michael Gochfeld [mailto:gochfeld at EOHSI.RUTGERS.EDU]
> > Sent: March 30, 2002 5:34 AM
> > To: Ron Gatrelle
> > Cc: TILS group
> > Subject: Re: [leps-talk] Birds to bugs
> > I share (or shared) Ron's beetle frustration, and am experiencing the same
> > with
> > wasps and bees which
> > are attracted to nectar sources in our garden. I'd like to know more about
> > them, but many elude species-level identification.
> > But that is because we (like the birders) are species jingoists.
> > If we don't know the species name, the thing holds no interest for
> us. Yet,
> > if
> > it is something that we are not specifically studying, why is knowing the
> > genus
> > (or even the family) not enough to convey a sense of appreciation.
> > Mike Gochfeld
> > Ron Gatrelle wrote:
> > > Alex wrote
> > >
> > > snips
> > > >
> > > > I found in dealing with certain individuals who have, in particular, a
> > > > background in Ornithology or "bird-watching", that there is a certain
> > > > ignorance in WHAT the study of the butterflies involves. One prominent
> > > > person, in particular, was quite offensive to me when he advised me
> > > > "all those subspecies and forms" which I am concerned about
> knowing, are
> > > > "inconsequential and a waste of time", and that the system employed in
> > > > "modern butterfly study" works quite well for birds.
> > > >
> > > > Well, we are not dealing with birds, rather with butterflies.
> > > >
> > >
> > > I predict that we will never have full fledged Beetle Watchers. I got a
> > > tiny bit interested in beetles several years ago when the famous eastern
> > US
> > > lepster Steve Roman started getting interested in Tiger Beetles. Once I
> > > began to find that many beetle species can not be told apart by just
> > > looking at them - various chemical or DNA analysis were necessary with
> > > many - I lost interest. Oh sure there are plenty of beetles, bugs,
> > hoppers
> > > etc. than one can eyeball ID. But to really get into them? Well, we are
> > > talking about the largest order of critters on the planet - thousands of
> > > tiny LBJs. (little brown jobs) that all look just alike.
> > >
> > > The point is that as we move from mammals to bacteria - the methodologies
> > > shift in increments. I know sometimes we lepidopterists seem to be
> > > "chewing" on the birders, and this may be so. We are just trying to say
> > > that only part of the birder stuff works here - the oval peg does not fit
> > > in the round hole. On the other hand we lepidopterists feel (a paranoid
> > > thought) we are being "pecked" at by _some_ of the birders who have
> > > over. (I don't count Kenn among these)
> > >
> > > Does one want a general knowledge of butterflies? moths? wasps? flies?
> > > what? Or, does one want to gain an in-depth knowledge of
> butterflies --
> > > and/or moths? Within any area, the depth to which one wishes to go
> > > dictate the types of books, methods, time etc devoted to that desired
> > > depth. There is not a "universal standard" of book, method, time etc.
> > that
> > > will facilitate all levels. So there needs to be diversity of
> > > literature -- and activities. The problem is when one type or book or
> > > activity is being shoved upon all by one perspective (regardless of its
> > > "level" of depth).
> > >
> > > Ron
> > >
> > >
> > > TILS Motto: "We can not protect that which we do not know." © 1999
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