Natural history

Natural history

Tables of natural history, from Ephraim Chambers's 1728 Cyclopaedia

Natural history is the

  • A History of the Ecological Sciences by Frank N. Egerton

External links

  • Allen, David Elliston (1994), The Naturalist in Britain: a social history, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, p. 270,  
  • Liu, Huajie (2012), Living as a Naturalist, Beijing: Peking University Press, p. 363,  
  • Peter Anstey (2011), Two Forms of Natural History, Early Modern Experimental Philosophy.
  • Atran, Scott (1990), Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 376,  
  • Farber, Paul Lawrence (2000), Finding Order in Nature: The Naturalist Tradition from Linnaeus to E. O. Wilson. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.
  • Kohler, Robert E. (2002), Landscapes and Labscapes: Exploring the Lab-Field Border in Biology. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
  • Mayr, Ernst. (1982), The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Rainger, Ronald; Keith R. Benson; and Jane Maienschein (eds) (1988), The American Development of Biology. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia.

Further reading

  1. ^ Natural History WordNet Search, princeton.edu.
  2. ^ Brown, Lesley (1993), The New shorter Oxford English dictionary on historical principles, Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon,  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Barry Barnes and Steven Shapin, "Natural order: historical studies of scientific culture", Sage, 1979.
  5. ^ Thomas Lowe Fleischner, The Way of Natural History, Trinity University Press, 2011.
  6. ^ Marston Bates, The nature of natural history, Scribners, 1954.
  7. ^ D. S Wilcove and T. Eisner, "The impending extinction of natural history," Chronicle of Higher Education 15 (2000): B24
  8. ^ H. W. Greene and J. B. Losos, "Systematics, Natural-History, and Conservation - Field Biologists Must Fight a Public-Image Problem," Bioscience 38 (1988): 458-462
  9. ^ G. A. Bartholomew, "The Role of Natural History in Contemporary Biology", Bioscience 36 (1986): 324-329
  10. ^ H.W. Greene, "Organisms in nature as a central focus for biology", Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20 (2005):23-27
  11. ^ S. G Herman, “Wildlife biology and natural history: time for a reunion", The Journal of wildlife management 66, no. 4 (2002): 933–946
  12. ^ T. L. Fleischner, "Natural history and the spiral of offering", Wild Earth 11, no. 3/4 (2002): 10–13
  13. ^ Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, Vintage, 1986.
  14. ^ American Museum of Natural History, Mission Statement
  15. ^ Field Museum, Mission Statement
  16. ^ The Natural History Museum, Mission Statement
  17. ^ An Accepted Way of Viewing Art
  18. ^ Pliny the Elder (2004). Natural History: A Selection. Penguin Classics.  
  19. ^ a b "Natural History Timeline". HistoryofScience.com.
  20. ^ Patrick Armstrong (2000). The English Parson-naturalist: A Companionship Between Science and Religion. Gracewing Publishing.  
  21. ^ Diarmid A. Finnegan (2008), "'An aid to mental health': natural history, alienists and therapeutics in Victorian Scotland", Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (3): 326–337,  

References

See also

Other examples of natural history societies are American Society of Naturalists and Polish Copernicus Society of Naturalists.

Examples of these societies in Britain include the Natural History Society of Northumbria founded in 1829, British Entomological and Natural History Society founded in 1872, Birmingham Natural History Society, Glasgow Natural History Society, London Natural History Society founded in 1858, Manchester Microscopical and Natural History Society established in 1880, Scarborough Field Naturalists' Society and the Sorby Natural History Society, Sheffield, founded in 1918. The growth of natural history societies was also spurred due to the growth of British colonies in tropical regions with numerous new species to be discovered. Many civil servants took an interest in their new surroundings, sending specimens back to museums in Britain. (See also: Indian natural history)

The term "natural history" alone, or sometimes together with archeology, forms the name of many national, regional and local natural history societies that maintain records for birds (ornithology), mammals (mammalogy), insects (entomology), fungi (mycology) and plants (botany). They may also have microscopical and geological sections.

The monument of Jan Czekanowski, a president of Polish Copernicus Society of Naturalists (1923-1924), in Szczecin, Poland

Societies

Natural history museums, which evolved from cabinets of curiosities, played an important role in the emergence of professional biological disciplines and research programs. Particularly in the 19th century, scientists began to use their natural history collections as teaching tools for advanced students and the basis for their own morphological research.

Museums

Three of the greatest English naturalists of the nineteenth century, Henry Walter Bates, Charles Darwin, and Alfred Russel Wallace—who all knew each other—each made natural history travels that took years, collected thousands of specimens, many of them new to science, and by their writings both advanced knowledge of "remote" parts of the world—the Amazon basin, the Galapagos islands, and the Malay archipelago, among others—and in so doing helped to transform biology from a descriptive to a theory based science.

Amateur collectors and natural history entrepreneurs played an important role in building the world's large natural history collections, such as the Natural History Museum, London, and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

In modern ethology (the scientific study of animal behavior), and evolutionary biology (the study of the relationships between life-forms over very long periods of time), and re-emerges today as integrative organismal biology.

A significant contribution to English natural history was made by "John Ray, who wrote about plants, animals, and other aspects of nature.[20]

, a 44 volume encyclopedia describing everything known about the natural world. Histoire naturelle

Birth of scientific biology

From the thirteenth century, the work of Aristotle was adapted rather rigidly into Carl Linnaeus.[19]

Natural history was basically static through the taxonomic groups, culminating in the system of the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus.

Medieval

De Materia Medica was written between 50 and 70 AD by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Roman physician of Greek origin. It was widely read for more than 1,500 years until supplanted in the Renaissance, making it one of the longest-lasting of all natural history books.

Natural history begins with Aristotle and other ancient philosophers who analyzed the diversity of the natural world. From the ancient Greeks until the work of Carolus Linnaeus (also known as Carl Linnaeus, or Carl von Linné) and other 18th century naturalists, the main concept of natural history was the scala naturae or Great Chain of Being, a conceptual arrangement of minerals, vegetables, more primitive forms of animals, and more complex life forms on a linear scale of increasing "perfection", culminating in our species. Natural history was understood by Pliny the Elder to cover anything that could be found in the world, including living things, geology, astronomy, technology, art and man.[18]

Blackberry from the 6th century Vienna Dioscurides manuscript

Ancient times

History

The plurality of definitions for this field has been recognized as both a weakness and a strength, and a range of definitions have recently been offered by practitioners in a recent collection of views on natural history.[17]

A slightly different, but equally expansive framework for natural history is also implied in the scope of work encompassed by many leading natural history museums, which often include elements of Anthropology, Geology, Paleontology and Astronomy along with Botany and Zoology,[14][15] or include both cultural and natural components of the world.[16]

Recently, several authors have argued for a more expansive view of natural history, including S. Herman, who defines the field as "the scientific study of plants and animals in their natural environments. It is concerned with levels of organization from the individual organism to the ecosystem, and stresses identification, life history, distribution, abundance, and inter-relationships. It often and appropriately includes an esthetic component",[11] and T. Fleischner, who defines the field even more broadly, as "A practice of intentional, focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-than-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy".[12] These definitions explicitly include the arts in the field of natural history, and are aligned with the broad definition outlined by B. Lopez, who defines the field as the "Patient interrogation of a landscape" while referring to the natural history knowledge of the Eskimo.[13]

Modern definitions from biologists often focus on the scientific study of individual organisms in their environment, as seen in this definition by Marston Bates: "Natural history is the study of animals and Plants - of organisms. ... I like to think, then, of natural history as the study of life at the level of the individual - of what plants and animals do, how they react to each other and their environment, how they are organized into larger groupings like populations and communities"[6] and this more recent definition by D.S. Wilcove and T. Eisner: "The close observation of organisms—their origins, their evolution, their behavior, and their relationships with other species".[7] This focus on organisms in their environment is also echoed by H.W. Greene and J.B. Losos: "Natural history focuses on where organisms are and what they do in their environment, including interactions with other organisms. It encompasses changes in internal states insofar as they pertain to what organisms do".[8] Some definitions go further, focusing on direct observation of organisms in their environment, both past and present, such as this one by G.A. Bartholomew: "A student of natural history, or a naturalist, studies the world by observing plants and animals directly. Because organisms are functionally inseparable from the environment in which they live and because their structure and function cannot be adequately interpreted without knowing some of their evolutionary history, the study of natural history embraces the study of fossils as well as physiographic and other aspects of the physical environment".[9] A common thread in many definitions of natural history is the inclusion of a descriptive component, as seen in a recent definition by H.W. Greene: "Descriptive ecology and ethology".[10]

Modern definitions of natural history come from a variety of fields and sources, and many of the modern definitions emphasize a particular aspect of the field, creating a plurality of definitions with a number of common themes among them. For example, while natural history is most often defined as a type of observation and a subject of study, it can also be defined as a body of knowledge, and as a craft or a practice, in which the emphasis is placed more on the observer than on the observed.[5]

Modern

Natural history had been encouraged by practical motives, such as Linnaeus' aspiration to improve the economic condition of Sweden.[3] Similarly, the Industrial Revolution prompted the development of geology to help find useful mineral deposits.[4]

Until well into the nineteenth century, knowledge was considered by Europeans to have two main divisions: the humanities (including theology), and studies of nature. Studies of nature could in turn be divided, with natural history being the descriptive counterpart to natural philosophy, the analytical study of nature. In modern terms, natural philosophy roughly corresponded to modern physics and chemistry, while natural history included the biological and geological sciences. The two were strongly associated. During the heyday of the gentleman scientists, many people contributed to both fields, and early papers in both were commonly read at professional science society meetings such as the Royal Society and the French Academy of Sciences – both founded during the seventeenth century.

The English term "natural history" is a translation of the Latin historia naturalis. Its meaning has narrowed progressively with time, while the meaning of the related term "nature" has widened (see also History below). In antiquity, it covered essentially anything connected with nature or which used materials drawn from nature. For example, Pliny the Elder's encyclopedia of this title, published circa 77 to 79 AD, covers astronomy, geography, man and his technology, medicine and superstition as well as animals and plants.

A view on a natural history collection in a French public secondary school.

Historical

Definitions

Contents

  • Definitions 1
    • Historical 1.1
    • Modern 1.2
  • History 2
    • Ancient times 2.1
    • Medieval 2.2
    • Birth of scientific biology 2.3
  • Museums 3
  • Societies 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

A person who studies natural history is known as a naturalist or "natural historian".

has a strong multi-disciplinary nature combining scientists and scientific knowledge of many specialty sciences. geobiology umbrella of many specialty sciences. For example, cross discipline naturalists working in near isolation, today's field is more of a Renaissance, through to European mediaeval Arabic world and the Greco-Roman world That is a very broad designation in a world filled with many narrowly focused disciplines. So while natural history dates historically from studies in the ancient [2]