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Original Essays | August 21, 2014

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    Before, During, After

    Richard Bausch 9780307266262

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What Is Natural? Coral Reef Crisis


What Is Natural? Coral Reef Crisis Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

During the late 1960s and 1970s, massive herds of poisonous crown-of-thorns starfish suddenly began to infest coral reef communities around the world, leaving in their wake devastation comparable to a burnt-out rainforest. In What is Natural?, Jan Sapp both examines this ecological catastrophe and captures the intense debate among scientists about what caused the crisis, and how it should be handled.

The crown-of-thorns story takes readers on tropical expeditions around the world, and into both marine laboratories and government committees, where scientists rigorously search for answers to the many profound questions surrounding this event. Were these fierce starfish outbreaks the kind of manmade disaster heralded by such environmentalists as Rachel Carson in Silent Spring? Indeed, discussions of the cause of the starfish plagues have involved virtually every environmental issue of our timeover-fishing, pesticide use, atomic testing, rain forest depletion, and over-population, but many marine biologists maintain that the epidemic is a natural feature of coral-reef life, an ecological "balance of nature" that should not to be tampered with until we know the scientific truth of the crisis. But should we search for the scientific truth before taking action? And what if an environmental emergency cannot wait for a rigorous scientific search for "the truth?"

The starfish plagues are arguably one of most mysterious ecological phenomena of this century. Through the window of this singular event, What is Natural lucidly illustrates the complexity of environmental issues while probing the most fundamental questions about the relationship between man and nature.


This detailed account of the ongoing destruction of coral reef communities crystallizes one of sciences most profound questions--is there a balance of nature? 13 illustrations.

About the Author

Jan Sapp is a Professor of the History of Science in the Department of Biology, at York University, in Toronto, Canada. He has written two other books for Oxford: Evolution by Assciation (1994) and Beyond the Gene (1987).

Table of Contents



1. Green Island

2. Guam, 1968-1969

3. The War of the Worlds

4. Under Capricorn

5. Crown-of-thorns Inquisition

6. A Tree Fell in the Forest ...

7. Knowledge and Action

8. Oceans Apart

9. Remote Control

10. Complexity and Stability

11. Cyclical Outcries

12. Crossroads

13. Coral Bleaching and Global Warming

14. Cassandra and the Seastar



Product Details

Sapp, Jan
Oxford University Press, USA
null, Jan
New York :
Marine Life
Oceans & Seas
Coral reef ecology
Life Sciences - Ecology
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Life Sciences | Ecology | Conservation Biology
Crown-of-thorns starfish.
Ecosystems & Habitats - Oceans & Seas
Environmental Studies-Environment
Edition Number:
Publication Date:
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12 halftones, 1 linecut
9.3 x 6.3 x 1 in 1.3 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General
History and Social Science » Law » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Ocean and Marine Biology
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » General

What Is Natural? Coral Reef Crisis Used Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195123647 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This detailed account of the ongoing destruction of coral reef communities crystallizes one of sciences most profound questions--is there a balance of nature? 13 illustrations.

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