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The California Naturalist Handbook

The California Naturalist Handbook

Greg de Nevers
Deborah Stanger Edelman
Adina M. Merenlender
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    The California Naturalist Handbook
    Book Description:

    The California Naturalist Handbookprovides a fun, science-based introduction to California's natural history with an emphasis on observation, discovery, communication, stewardship and conservation. It is a hands-on guide to learning about the natural environment of California. Subjects covered include California natural history and geology, native plants and animals, California's freshwater resources and ecosystems, forest and rangeland resources, conservation biology, and the effects of global warming on California's natural communities. TheHandbookalso discusses how to create and use a field notebook, natural resource interpretation, citizen science, and collaborative conservation and serves as the primary text for the California Naturalist Program.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95461-8
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 California Natural History and the Role of Naturalists
    (pp. 1-26)

    California is an incredible place to be a naturalist. For people who like to spend time outside, exploring unique places and sharing their favorite trail or rare species with others, the opportunities in California abound. The variety of landscapes provides diverse and unique living laboratories for aspiring naturalists. We have our nation’s oldest lake, the lowest point, and the tallest trees, and seemingly endless opportunities for discovery, action, and stewardship. From discoveries in your own backyard to exploring the far corners of the state, California is an enticing mix of the commonplace and the unusual, where the ordinary is truly...

  6. 2 Geology, Climate, and Soils
    (pp. 27-52)

    As a first approximation, the topographic shape of California can be thought of as a bathtub with a ring-shaped set of mountain ranges enclosing a flat, central valley. The next layer of complexity is that the Coast Ranges are far smaller in height than the Sierra Nevada (2,000 to 4,000 feet vs 8,000 to 14,000 feet), so one wall of the tub is shorter than the other. There is one low gap at San Francisco Bay, where the rivers that flow down off of the west slope of the Sierra, and that are gathered in the Central Valley, cut down...

  7. 3 Water
    (pp. 53-90)

    To say that water is important for human survival is an understatement. It is more than the fluid that passes through us; it’s in every part of us. Water is not just in our blood; it’s in our tissues, our bones, our organs. We’re not just more water, by weight, than anything else; we’re more water than everything else combined. We need to drink water because it is a critical component of the processes that allow us to live, as it is critical for all living things on Earth.

    In addition to being important for life on Earth, water is...

  8. 4 Plants
    (pp. 91-116)

    Plants surround us, shelter us, feed us, and form the aesthetic and functional backdrop to our lives. Were it not for green plants, there would be no life as we know it on Earth. Despite their central importance to our lives, many of us are no more aware of the plants we live among than we are of billboards. Ask yourself these simple botanical Jeopardy questions: How many trees can you name on sight? What is the first bush to bloom in your yard each spring? Are the conifer trees on Mt. Lassen the same species as those you can...

  9. 5 Forest, Woodland, and Range Resources and Management
    (pp. 117-144)

    Forests compel us because they play so many different roles in our society. They are places of beauty and refuge, often inspiring awe and a connection to something greater than ourselves. They provide shade and habitat for birds, insects, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. They sequester carbon. They are the source of wood, a hugely important natural resource that we depend on for lumber, paper, and fuel. For these reasons, feelings about forests and their uses run deep.

    Forests and woodlands are defined as large tracts of land that have at least 10 percent tree cover. California has nearly 33 million...

  10. 6 Animals
    (pp. 145-178)

    Most animals on Earth are dependent on the sun for their energy needs. They derive their energy by eating plants and other photosynthetic organisms which are capable of capturing the sun’s energy and transforming it into a form that is useful to animals. With the exception of the few species that rely on Earth’s interior energy at spots like deep-sea hydrothermal vents, animals directly or indirectly depend on plants for their livelihood. This pattern is universal and explains the energy relationships among organisms elegantly, so it is helpful to think of all of the animals on Earth in terms of...

  11. 7 Energy and Global Environmental Issues
    (pp. 179-216)

    Energy is a fundamental unifying concept for physical and biological scientists because it drives all Earth systems. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form. Therefore, energy can never be “used up.” When nuclear fusion in the dense gas cloud of the sun releases the energy of the atom, it transforms that energy to various forms of electromagnetic energy. The exact amount of energy that was held in the nuclear bonds of the hydrogen or helium atoms reacting in the sun is the amount released as light, heat, and other forms of energy.

    Energy exists in a variety...

  12. 8 Interpretation, Collaboration, and Citizen Science
    (pp. 217-232)

    Translating the language of nature into human meaning is the way naturalists share their sense of wonder at the natural world with others. Communicating knowledge is a key step in any scientific endeavor, and for naturalists this often takes the form of interpreting nature for others. Sharing is what motivates many naturalists to want to learn more.

    Taking people for a hike, bringing a snake into a classroom, or giving a short talk at a visitor center are some of the ways naturalists share their knowledge of and passion for nature. Naturalists are also called upon to answer questions about...

  13. Glossary
    (pp. 233-254)
  14. Index
    (pp. 255-262)