Contemporary Naturalists

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Contemporary Research Biologists who also write as Naturalists

Bernd Heinrich

Studied at the University of Maine and UCLA, and is professor emeritus of biology at the University of Vermont. Heinrich divides his time between Vermont and the forests of western Maine. He has written several memoirs of his life in science and nature, including One Man’s Owl, and Ravens in Winter. Bumblebee Economics was twice a nominee for the American Book Award in Science, and A Year in the Maine Woods won the 1995 Rutstrum Authors’ Award for Literary Excellence. Bernd has received countless honors for his scientific work. He also writes for Scientific American, Outside, American Scientist, and Audubon; and he has written book reviews and op-eds for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

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John Marzluff

Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington.  His graduate (Northern Arizona University) and initial post-doctoral (University of Vermont) research focused on the social behavior and ecology of jays and ravens.  He was especially interested in communication, social organization, and foraging behavior.  His current research brings this behavioral approach to pressing conservation issues including raptor management, management of pest species, and assessment of nest predation.  His book, In the Company of Crows and Ravens (with Tony Angell, 2005 Yale U. Press) blends biology, conservation, and anthropology to suggest that human and crow cultures have co-evolved.  This book won the 2006 Washington State Book Award for general nonfiction.  He has led studies on the effects of military training on falcons and eagles in southwestern Idaho, the effects of timber harvest, recreation, and forest fragmentation on goshawks and marbled murrelets in western Washington and Oregon, conservation strategies for Pacific Island crows, and the effects of urbanization on songbirds in the Seattle area.  Dr. Marzluff has authored over 120 scientific papers on various aspects of bird behavior and wildlife management.

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Edward Osborne Wilson

University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard. In his long career, he has transformed his field of research—the behavior of ants—and applied his scientific perspective and experience to illuminate the human circumstance, including human origins, human nature, and human interactions. Wilson has also been a pioneer in spearheading efforts to preserve and protect the biodiversity of this planet.  Wilson is the guiding force that shapes the mission of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.  The mission of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation is to promote worldwide understanding of the importance of biodiversity and of the preservation of our biological heritage. Among our projects is the development of educational materials in life science for high school and undergraduate students and the general public that will improve global understanding of the nature and diversity of all of life on Earth and why it must be conserved.

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Michael R. Canfield

Teaches courses on insect biology and mimicry in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2006. His research investigates how the camouflage forms of caterpillars can be determined by what they eat. In addition to his continuing research on the evolutionary biology of insects, he think widely about issues in the study of natural history, and am fascinated by the history of biological exploration and how scientists and naturalists record work in their field notes.  He serves as Dean at Eliot House at Harvard. Selected titles:

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George Schaller

Director for science at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, has spent most of his time in the field in South America, Africa, and Asia. He has studied animals as diverse as the mountain gorilla, jaguar, giant panda, tiger, lion, and the wild sheep and goats of the Himalaya. These have been the basis for his scientific and popular writings, among them a dozen books.  Schaller has worked for many years on the Tibet Plateau, studying its endemic wildlife, which includes the wild yak, Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan antelope, Tibetan wild ass, and snow leopard. In collaboration with Chinese and Tibetan scientists, he is making the first survey of wildlife in Laos and Mongolia. Among his many awards are the International Cosmos Prize (Japan) in 1996 and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (USA) in 1997. His active involvement with the National Geographic Society began in the late 1960s, during his study of lions.

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Paul Rezendes

Author/photographer and is recognized as one of the country’s leading animal tracking experts. Paul began his career as a wildlife photographer He first began documenting animal tracks and sign in 1984, he and his wife, Paulette, expanded their program offerings to include outdoor workshops, and thus Paul Rezendes Photography and Nature Programs was established. For the next 19 years, Paul taught countless children and adults the language of the forest, deeply committed to helping people to not only observe and see nature, but to connect with nature and themselves in a profound and often totally new and different way.Many of his students have gone on to write their own books, established their own nature schools, and have contributed greatly to the growth of tracking as sound citizen science in North America. Paul and Paulette retired from teaching in early 2004 to devote their energies full time to their stock and fine art photography business.

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Peter Marchand

Field biologist trained in both earth sciences and ecology at the University of New Hampshire. He earned his doctorate investigating physiological limits to tree growth at timberline and then devoted much of his career to the study of diverse forest, tundra and desert ecosystems. Peter’s research interests are focused mainly on plant and animal response to disturbance—including climate change—in Colorado’s montane forests and alpine tundra, but he admits “sometimes I just like to rummage through nature, like a bear at a garbage dump, for the biological spoils that fascinate me most.”  A frequent contributor to Natural History, his writing often concerns life at the extremes. He holds adjunct appointments at the Center for Creative Leadership, Colorado College, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

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Olaus Murie

Renowned biologist and one of the country’s great champions of wildlife and wilderness. Scientist, visionary, and former governing council member and president of The Wilderness Society, Olaus Murie’s vision helped establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and shaped a new way of thinking about predators and ecosystems.  Olaus Murie began his career as a wildlife biologist in Alaska, where he studied caribou herds in northern Alaska’s Brooks Range and found his lifetime companion, Mardy.  The Muries moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to study the local elk herd and it became their lifelong home. Olaus became an early, staunch defender of predators and their crucial role in ecosystems.

In 1937, Murie joined the governing council of the young Wilderness Society. He helped convince President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to add surrounding rain forests to Olympic National Monument. He worked to establish Jackson Hole National Monument in the valley below the Teton Range. In 1950, The Wilderness Society named Murie its president. The Muries’ log cabin in Moose, Wyoming became an unofficial Wilderness Society headquarters. As president, Murie lobbied successfully to prevent large federal dam projects within Glacier National Park and Dinosaur National Monument. Murie’s greatest quest became protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. In 1956, Mardy, Olaus, and a few others spent several weeks on an Arctic expedition. Armed with their evidence, they returned to the lower 48 and spent four years campaigning tirelessly to protect the place so dear to them. In 1960, President Eisenhower set aside 8 million acres as the Arctic National Wildlife Range, which later became part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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Robert Michael Pyle

Lepidopterist and a professional writer who has published twelve books and hundreds of papers, essays, stories and poems. He has a Ph.D. from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. His acclaimed 1987 book Wintergreen describing the devastation caused by unrestrained logging in Washington’s Willapa Hills near his adopted home was the winner of the 1987 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. He won the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award.

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Contemporary Naturalists-Writers from the Pacific Northwest

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Jack Nisbet

Jack Nisbet is a Spokane-based teacher and naturalist and the author of several books that explore human and natural history of the Intermountain West.  His recent focus on the naturalist David Douglas resulted in a book and traveling museum exhibit.  Website includes essays. 

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Terry Tempest Williams

A Utah-native she defines herself as a “a citizen writer,” who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. Williams, like her writing, cannot be categorized. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. She is a columnist for the magazine The Progressive. She is known for her impassioned and lyrical prose.

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Alison Watt

Native of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  She is a painter who writes. As a biologist, she worked on seabird colonies, in the Amazon, and in a botanical garden.  She sees the world through a biologist/naturalist lens.

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Gilean Douglas

A Canadian poet, journalist, naturalist, farmer and feminist, her writing spans almost the entire twentieth century.  Gilean Douglas was born in 1900 and lived to be 93. The Protected Place, her classic depiction of coastal life, was first published in 1979.

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Debra Davis, Naturalist

Debra Davis’ website is one devoted to natural history; the observational study of plants, animals and other natural phenomena, with emphasis on fieldwork. This blog combines field notes, photographs, and artwork as examples of the variety of nature journaling tools.
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Walleye Cards, Heather A. Wallis Murphy

Heather is a Pacific Northwest notecard artist, watercolorist, nature writer and wildlife biologist. She is the lead instructor for nature journaling for the Wenatchee Naturalist course.  Walleye Cards website.
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Tim McNulty

Tim McNulty is a poet, essayist, and nature writer based on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. He is the author of ten poetry books and eleven books of natural history. His essay titled Gestures of Stone and Water:  A Natural History of the Wenatchee Watershed,. Pg. 31-36, Images of the Watershed (2002).  Hardcopy booklet in the class loaner box.
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Dave Mathews

Daniel Mathews is a the author of Cascade-Olympic Natural History: A Trailside Reference, part of the class Loaner Box.  In addition to books, he wrote interpretive signs for nature parks and worked as a naturalist-guide on cruise ships and on backpacking trip seminars organized by the North Cascades Institute. During two summers he served as fire lookout at Desolation Peak, the post once held by Jack Kerouac.
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Clare Walker Leslie

Naturalist/Artist/Author/Educator http://www.clarewalkerleslie.com/
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John Muir Laws

Nature Stewardship Through Science, Education, and Art.   John writes, Keeping a journal of your observations, questions, and reflections will enrich your experiences and develop gratitude, reverence, and the skills of a naturalist. My work is to share love and connection to nature through art and science and to offer support and guidance on this path.
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Mary Kiesau

Mountain Kind Naturalist, Methow Valley-based naturalist,  Mary Kiesau, has created a natural history website designed to serve the North Central Washington community. She is the Methow Conservancy’s Educational Programs Director. The website creation was the final product for her Masters in Environmental Education through Western Washington University.
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Dana Visilli

The Methow Naturalist, Dana Visilli, is editor of the quarterly Methow Naturalist journal and his website is a wealth of natural history information.  He is a professional botanist and an organic market gardener in Washington State.
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