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Effective Conservation ScienceData Not Dogma$
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Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier, and Brian Silliman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198808978

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198808978.001.0001

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From Silent Spring to The Frog of War

From Silent Spring to The Frog of War

The forgotten role of natural history in conservation science

Chapter:
(p.85) Chapter 13 From Silent Spring to The Frog of War
Source:
Effective Conservation Science
Author(s):

David K. Skelly

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198808978.003.0013

This chapter presents two examples to demonstrate that natural history is the necessary basis of any reliable understanding of the world. More than a half century ago, Rachel Carson revolutionized the public’s view of pesticides. The foundation of her success was the careful use of natural history data, collated from across North America. The examples she assembled left little doubt that DDT and other pesticides were causing a widespread decline in birds. More recently, the case for the impact of atrazine on wildlife was based on laboratory experiments, without the advantage of natural history observations. For atrazine, natural history observations now suggest that other chemical agents are more likely to be responsible for feminization of wildlife populations. Developing expectations for scientists to collect natural history information can help to avoid over-extrapolating lab results to wild populations, a tendency often seen when those lab results conform to preconceptions about chemicals in the environment.

Keywords:   Atrazine, DDT, natural history, pesticide, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Feminization, amphibians

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