Salmon numbers ended up declining, triggering declines in bald eagles and tourists. Ironically, scientists already knew the vertical migration pattern of these introduced shrimp. So had the details of the shrimp's natural history been acknowledged, the authors write, their introduction's outcome could have been predicted.
Natural history-based field observations that usefully represent the real world underpin successful biological modeling, which is becoming increasingly more sophisticated.
"With our pressing need to make ecology a more predictive science, natural history has taken a back seat to modern ecological modeling and molecular techniques," explains Salomon. "This cultural shift in the ecological sciences has changed the skills we value and, consequently, the skills we teach in ecology. Yet, natural history is the starting point for all progress in ecology."
Joshua J Tewksbury, a natural history professor at the University of Washington who also works with the WWF International in Switzerland, led the study.
With the release of this paper, the authors have established an online forum to broaden discussion about natural history's research relevance and solicit new research ideas.
"Our hope is that this forum becomes a starting point for the next set of collaborations, initiatives and action," says Tewksbury. "We hope forum-related ideas can spread to inform, energize and integrate different audiences who are passionate about the future of natural history."
|Contact: Carol Thorbes|
Simon Fraser University