Saturday, April 23, 2011

As seen by McIntosh; Symposium at last

Currently reading The Background of Ecology: Concept and Theory, by Robert P. McIntosh (1985), and just wanted to drop in to record a couple comments he offers about Paul Sears.
Paul B. Sears (1935c), perhaps the most articulate plant ecologist in relating ecology to human affairs, examined the ecological consequences of misunderstanding the Great Plains in his book Deserts on the March. Sears followed in the footsteps of his eminent predecessor C.E. Bessey (Overfield 1975, 1979) in scientific and ecological consideration of the American grassland and grassland agriculture. Both shared a conviction that a knowledge of the environment was essential to advance human society... (p 307)

In fact, ecology was first described explicitly as a subversive subject by Paul Sears in 1964. Granted that Sears was no run-of-the-mill ecologist, it is fair to state that he was not alone or even first among ecologists in this perception. As usual, he simply said it more effectively than other ecologists. (p 313)

In other not-so-new news, the long-awaited "Sears symposium" volume has been published by the Ohio Academy of Science as a special issue of The Ohio Journal of Science. Twenty years in the making, it includes contributions by Sears' two daughters, as well as colleagues, protegees, and researchers who followed in his footsteps and who assess his contributions to various fields.

McIntosh, Robert P. 1985. The Background of Ecology: Concept and Theory. Cambridge University Press. 371 p. (Link at JSTOR for those who have access, otherwise try GoogleBooks, etc.

Ohio Academy of Science. 2010. Knowing Nature: Paul Bigelow Sears (1891-1990) and American Ecology. The Ohio Journal of Science 109(4-5):76-144. (Abstracts online at link; copies available for $15 from OAS.)