What is Natural?: Coral Reef Crisis

Paperback | October 20, 2003

byJan Sapp

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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 ecologicalcatastrophe 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 ofmanmade 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 time--over-fishing, pesticide use, atomic testing, rain forest depletion, and over-population--butmany marine biologists maintain that the epidemic is a natural feature of coral-reef life, and ecological "balance of nature" that should not 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 anenvironmental 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 andnature.

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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 ecologicalcatastrophe and captures the intense debate among scie...

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).

other books by Jan Sapp

Coexistence: The Ecology and Evolution of Tropical Biodiversity
Coexistence: The Ecology and Evolution of Tropical Biod...

Hardcover|Nov 29 2016

$64.78 online$82.50list price(save 21%)
see all books by Jan Sapp
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:October 20, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195161785

ISBN - 13:9780195161786

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Green Island2. Guam, 1968-19693. The War of the Worlds4. Under Capricorn5. Crown-of-thorns Inquisition6. A Tree Fell in the Forest ...7. Knowledge and Action8. Oceans Apart9. Remote Control10. Complexity and Stability11. Cyclical Outcries12. Crossroads13. Coral Bleaching and Global Warming14. Cassandra and the SeastarNotesIndex

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"The best science whodunnit I have ever read."--David Bellamy, New Scientist