[ Read Audible ] Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing PredatorsAuthor William Stolzenburg – Replica-watches.co

[ Read Audible ] Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing PredatorsAuthor William Stolzenburg – Replica-watches.co

A Provocative Look At How The Disappearance Of The World S Great Predators Has Upset The Delicate Balance Of The Environment, And What Their Disappearance Portends For The Future, By An Acclaimed Science JournalistIt Wasn T So Long Ago That Wolves And Great Cats, Monstrous Fish And Flying Raptors Ruled The Peak Of Nature S Food Pyramid Not So Any All But Exterminated, These Predators Of The Not Too Distant Past Have Been Reduced To Minor Players Of The Modern Era And What Of It Wildlife Journalist William Stolzenburg Follows In The Wake Of Nature S Topmost Carnivores, And Finds Chaos In Their Absence From The Brazen Mobs Of Deer And Marauding Raccoons Of Backyard America To Streamsides Of Yellowstone National Park Crushed By Massive Herds Of Elk From Urchin Scoured Reefs In The North Pacific To Ant Devoured Islands In Venezuela, Stolzenburg Leads A Startling Tour Through Bizarre, Impoverished Landscapes Of Pest And Plague For Anyone Who Has Seldom Given Thought To The Meat Eating Beasts So Recently Missing From The Web Of Life, Here Is A World Of Reason To Think Again

10 thoughts on “Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators

  1. says:

    Okay, MAYBE I m a bit biased because, well, my husband did write this book BUT I just finished the advance reading copyand it s fabulous I m not a non fiction sort of reader and this is non fiction but as his editor at Bloomsbury mentioned he has managed to build characters and plot into this story of the world we live in which is missing many most of its big predators.And who d have thought that there might be a connection between serious issues such as missing pollinators, lyme disease, streambed erosion and dysfunctional animal behavior

  2. says:

    Five stars Where the Wild Things Were is a must read book on species conservation It is a very well written and researched book Stolzenberg s reporting and history on numerous vanishing apex predators and resulting overpopulation of prey is balanced and measured This is the first science for the masses book that I have read that, in detail, covers the effect of over abundant prey fauna due to lack of predators and the devastating effect on flora.There is an intriguing chapter on overabundant deer white tail and black tail populations and the correlated precipitous drop in flora species and birds in American forests The deer eat virtually anything including saplings allowing noxious weeds to propagate and crowd themselves into forests An effort to transform forests away from deer game reserves by introducing apex predators or eliminating deer herds is often met with swift resistance Deer hunting enthusiasts don t seem to understand that deer population densities of 100 deer per square mile populations found in many forests in the midwest and northeastern US is 5x to 10x the maximum deer density than can support healthy species diverse forests.There is a balanced chapter on Orcas, a mammal several tons in size, that eat 20% of their body weight each day They are one of the most efficient predators on the planet and their presence in an area can have significant temporary effects on seal and sea otter populations A part of the natural cycle, the prey are briefly eliminated from an area I suspect because the marine eco system is not closed off, the seal and sea otter populations rebound quickly after the orcas leave for other food sources This is often not the case when man disturbs the natural order of things There is a chapter, a bit tongue in cheek, on introducing lions and elephants to the American southwest to parallel the the mega fauna species that roamed 10,000 to 15,000 years ago before man s arrival The author merely reports on this effort but does not necessarily espouse it.And of course there are several chapters on man s impact on mega fauna from the Clovis period in the US and man s ability to run down antelope in Africa Interestingly it has not been so easy for man to rise above the predators There is a discussion of the large eagle species in today s Africa where half their diet can be monkeys This evidence led anthropologists to connect the dots on early human remains of man that had been killed by some kind of animal So man most often children for hundreds of thousands of years were often prey and regular food sources for big cats and large raptors In summary this book is not a doomsday diatribe on species eradication, although I think these books should be read Instead I found the message and facts here to be very compelling and in an odd way satisfying This reporting on lack of forest and species diversity reinforced my own gut level experiences from my own travels and endless wilderness romps This is one reason that remote backpacking deep in the wilderness is so compelling and that the lack of diversity in the forests especially near populated areas is noticeable.Stolzenberg is a very good writer who has a real knack for understanding a reader s attention span A

  3. says:

    I am overjoyed that I was able to snag this through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program Now that I ve finished reading it, I am not a bit less pleased.Frankly, my good feelings about this book really got started the moment I received it in the mail, where it surprised me by arriving less than two weeks after I was notified of winning a copy When I tore open the package and spilled the book out in my hands, I was struck at just how pretty it was Judging by its cover, perhaps Maybe But I tell you it would have been warranted The imagefile listed here doesn t do the cover justice.But, oh, the content did not disappoint at all either Where the Wild Things Were is a fantastically interesting book, and it s written in such an engaging manner that I was pulled straight through the whole thing in a matter of days Try not to let the descriptive chapter headings seduce you into sampling the chapters out of turn with each other, though As excellent as the individual chapters like Bambie s Revenge and The Lions of Zion are, the information contained within the chapters builds in a very structured manner, and I really encourage that the book be read right through Best of all, the last quarter of the book is filled with fabulous reference information, from detailed chapter notes to a healthy sized index The bibliography alone is gold I cannot wait to explore some of the books listed.If I really had to drum up some sort of quibble, I might complain that the coverstock of my trade paperback copy is a little light in weight and already showing a tendency to curl, or that the interior paper could stand to be a touch better in quality, or even that the delicate black curlicues, which decorate the green strips of cover at the top and bottom edges of the book and that you cannot see at all in the imagefile, have been mildly obscured by the placement of the author s name a slightly lower placement would have been perfect But as quibbles, those are hardreaching and of very little merit Contentwise, I cannot complain at all This book is highly recommended.Also of interest is Stolzenburg s article in Conservation Magazine Because in truth your eyes will be focused, your ears will be tuned, your nose will be testing the air Your back will be straighter, your steps will be lighter One never sleepwalks through grizzlyland, dreaming of other places to be. p 217, 1596916429

  4. says:

    The authors style really resonated with me He describes large earth shattering revelations with such eloquence Starting with the thesis that the death extinction of predators and super predators are to blame for many ecological environmental, he delves into numerous case studies and ongoing research of many leading biologists The first chapters discussion of the kelp forests along the Pacific rim was particularly interesting, and made a real case for the rest of the book ecosystems MUST be looked at from the top down, rather than the reverse The scientists that Stolzenburg profiles methodically and systematically demonstrate how the top predators directly relate to such things as river ecology, plant seed distribution, and seemingly unrelated things like Lyme disease While so many points in this book stood out, I particularly enjoyed the one time humans got it right the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming in the mid 1990s It was a success story, and I presume that it remains so this day, over ten years later Simply put, this book was amazingly written and infinitely informative If you care about nature, biodiversity, and the future of our planet and the creatures living on it, reading this book will help you gain insight on how setting life back into the natural balance will remedy many unfortunately not all of the ills we face.

  5. says:

    This was an enjoyable book However, for a book that was supposed to present ecology to the masses, it cited a lot of papers and scientists without applying much of the science to everyday life The author oversimplified in an effort to appeal to everyone For example, Stolzenberg discusses the eradication of feral cats to restore bird habitats and how it worked flawlessly Then, while I was reading this book, scientists revealed that their attempts to eradicate feral cats on Macquerie Island in Australia had backfired because they had neglected to eradicate non native species of rabbits at the same time.http news.yahoo.com s ap 20090113 a In turn, the rabbits, left without any natural predators, have devastated the fragile vegetation that the native birds depend on This scenario demonstrates how complicated predator prey interactions can be Stolzenberg did not capture these complications I also disagreed with his subtle attempt to advocate the reintroduction of megafauna from the Pleistocene era such as lions into North America without in depth discussion of why this could also be a bad idea I love elephants and lions, but I m not sure they should be reintroduced just because they were here 10,000 years ago In essence, for ecology students and professionals, this book will be an interesting read because they will be able to expand on the ideas that he presents For people without a background in ecology, I fear this book will be a choppy introduction to megafaunal succession theory It s worth reading, but just know that you re scratching the surface as becomes apparent.

  6. says:

    For the first billion years of life on Earth, all of our ancestors were single celled One day, we aren t sure why, a hungry organism ate a delicious bystander, and became the first predator Predation inspired evolution to become very creative Some organisms became mobile by developing cilia or tails Others shape shifted into multi celled life forms Critters developed scales, spikes, shells, fangs, and many other clever defenses Thus, one group survived by dining on the unlucky, and the bigger group survived by evolving every imaginable trick for cancelling lunch dates with predators.When predators became too powerful, they would wipe out their food supply, blush with embarrassment, and starve Prey that managed to survive evolved stronger defensive capabilities But if they got too good at this, their population would explode, deplete the available nutrients, and the vast mob would perish in an undignified manner.Thus, evolution is an elegant balancing act If the prey gets one percent faster, the predator gets one percent faster, not two This balancing act is the subject of William Stolzenburg s book, Where the Wild Things Were More specifically, the book focuses on how humankind uses its brilliant technological innovations to bypass the limits of our current state of evolution, upset healthy balancing acts, and devastate ecosystems, often unintentionally.In the early 1970s, zoologist James Estes travelled to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to do research on sea otters Sea otters can grow up to four feet long 1.2 m , and they have incredibly soft fur Stylish women with too much money loved wearing fur coats, and for 150 years, from Alaska to Baja, otter hunting was a serious business, and very profitable Somewhere between 500,000 and 900,000 otters lost their hides to the fashionable dames of high society.The island of Amchitka had a healthy population of otters, and this is where Estes began his study, scuba diving in frigid water Beneath the waves were thriving jungles of kelp, a popular hangout for a number of aquatic herbivores Kelp can grow up to 200 feet tall 61 m Urchins enjoy dining on kelp, and sea otters enjoy dining on urchins What Estes observed was a healthy balance between the kelp, urchins, and otters.Later, he spent some time on the island of Shemya, where the great extermination had wiped out the otters Only a few had since recolonized there The ecosystem here was stunningly different from Amchitka In the absence of otters, the urchins exploded in numbers, and many were huge in size The sea floor was wall to wall urchins, and there was no kelp at all So, when the keystone predators otters live in peace, the ecosystem is healthy and balanced When they are eliminated, the ecosystem becomes a train wreck a chain reaction known as a trophic cascade Predators are essential.A similar scenario occurred when Zion National Park was established in Utah To make the park safe for tourists, the cougars mountain lions were exterminated In their absence, the population of mule deer exploded, and the land was stripped of vegetation The forests were dying, because young seedlings were devoured by deer Meanwhile, over the hill in North Creek Canyon, the cougars had been left alone, and the land was remarkably alive and healthy.The Kaibab Plateau in Arizona became a game preserve in 1906 Deer hunters were kept out, and 6,000 large carnivores were deleted The deer population skyrocketed from 4,000 to 100,000, and the vegetation was promptly vacuumed up In the winters of 1924 and 1925, 80,000 deer starved to death Ecosystems pay an enormous price for the stunning ecological ignorance of literate, educated people, who spend years in miserable classrooms carefully absorbing spooky illusions.Wolves and grizzlies had been absent in the Tetons for quite a while Then, a few began drifting in from Yellowstone At first, the moose and elk had no fear of them Wolves calmly strolled into the herd and snatched their young Before long, they learned that fearing predators was beneficial Something similar to this innocent fearlessness likely existed in every ecosystem when humans first arrived with their state of the art killing technology.In the 1950s, Paul Martin connected some archaeological dots The megafauna of the world, that had survived almost two million years of ice ages, suddenly blinked out whenever armed humans arrived in a new region This realization gave birth to his Pleistocene Overkill hypothesis, that man, and man alone, was responsible for the unique wave of Late Pleistocene extinction Despite many loud objections, it has generally been accepted, but it fails to explain the large numbers of mammoths and rhinos found in Siberia and Alaska It also causes those who worship at the crumbling Temple of Human Omnipotence to become moody and irritable.Whatever your opinion on this controversy, it s easy to argue that during the long era of warm weather since 9600 B.C , the pristine state of America was the Pleistocene, not 1492 In 2005, a group of biologists published a paper on rewilding in the journal Nature It recommended the reintroduction of missing species like cheetahs, camels, lions, and elephants The mainstream crowd soiled their britches and howled hysterically.It was, like, totally groovy to reintroduce pretty butterflies, but the huge backlash boiled down to no lions in my backyard This was the lively kickoff for what will be a long and bumpy process of attitude evolution or a fierce backlash from those who have yet to free themselves from the tiny cage of anthropocentric hallucinations.I wonder if the systematic extermination of millions of predators over the years is associated in any way with the current explosion in the human population Duh When climate change forced our ancestors onto the savannah, evolution had not prepared us for living amidst fast, powerful, heavyweight predators We developed a highly unusual dependence on technology in order to survive, thereby knocking over the evolutionary balancing act They would eventually wield the power to level mountains, to dam the biggest rivers, to coat entire continents in concrete and crops, to alter the climate as it had once altered them The chapter on how we morphed into apex predators is fascinating.Today, we almost never encounter man eating predators running lose We no longer have to pay careful attention to reality, ready to react at any moment, fully present and alive The world has become safe for pudgy cell phone zombies an empty, dull, and lonely place This is seen as normal I disagree Megafauna survived in Africa because they evolved together with hominids, but there s to the story Lars Werdelin, a specialist in African carnivores, has learned that there used to be far large carnivores Between 2 and 1.5 million years ago, many large carnivores went extinct This is about the time that tool using, meat eating Homo erectus appeared Werdelin, Lars, King of Beasts, Scientific American, November 2013, pp 34 39.

  7. says:

    This book got better once I had adjusted to the writing style There was a lot of flourishment where I don t think it was needed, but that s a personal preference for me I learned a lot from this book about the vital role predators play in our ecosystems and how humans have thrown the many delicate balances of nature out of wack No surprises there Not a book for everyone but, if you are interested in the topic and pick it up, my recommendation is to stick with it.

  8. says:

    This is now one of my favorite ecology books ever It is incredibly engaging and has vitally important information What is the role of top predators in an ecosystem What happens when they are removed I ve heard of classic stories such as the sea otters, sea urchins and kelp forest example, or the missing wolves, too many deer, death by disease and starvation example And these are two of the many studies that come up however they were presented with such depth that I felt like I was learning about them for the first time as new perspectives were brought to light These studies and many slowly built a picture of the world without our apex predators It took the individual trees I d been looking at and built a forest I won t ever see the world in the same way again Also, I think this would be a great companion book with David Quammen s Song of the Dodo.Notes pg 190 In a race with the furred and four legged, the naked ape also ran cooler and consistently than the competition The running hominid vented heat not only through the panting mouth but also through the evaporative cooling from the sweatiest skin on the savanna Running erect heightened the thermal advantage, exposing a minimum of bodily surface area to the sun.These were just a few of the examined traits that padded the Homo sapiens racing pedigreeHomo sapiens was born to runThe Bushmen s hunt would take place during the hottest times of the day, which in the Kalahari reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit pg 198 Capable of traveling at bursts exceeding sixty miles per hour, the pronghorn is the second fastest land animal on the planet or the fastest depending on how far the race is run Its sprint is slightly slower than that of the African cheetah s, but its pace over the mile is unmatched by any wild creature on legs Its feats of footspeed are both legendary and true Many who have spent any appreciable time driving through pronghorn country come back with a nuanced version of the same ensuing spectacle It begins in the driver s seat of a pick up truck on a dusty road, far upon some open stretch of the American steppe, when out of the corner of the eye appears a band of pronghorn on the run stick legs a blur, white rumps shining, muscled necks craning forward Over the sagebrush badlands tey fly, a squadron of hovercraft fluidly absorbing the terrain, hurtling forward at a frightening clip The speedometer confirms what the eye struggles to fathom forty five miles per hour The pronghorn are keeping pace, unveering, unflagging One minute, two minutes they are still going They are racing the machineBehind such outrageous displays of velocity are fearsome invisible forces To see them, one must think back at least thirteen thousand years ago, before their disappearance Before then the plains of North America were stampeded by an unprecedented cast of quick and deadly predators a lion larger than its contemporary African subspecies wolves of several varieties a bear designed like a racehourse a hyena with the legs of a coursing hound and a cheetah with the legs of, well, a cheetah Miracinonyx trumani was lithe yet larger than the modern African cheetah, and likely at least as fast It was this sprinting cat, and the formidable packs of hyenas and the like, that made the American steppe a very lively place to grow up They were the crucible in which the ultimate demon of speed, the American pronghorn was forged pg 207 Are humans now functionally equivalent to large mammalian carnivores Sports hunters tend to go heavily for trophies, selecting the biggest, handsomest, fittest bulls and bucks skimming the cream of the genetic crop working carnivores, on the other paw, tend to take the young, the old, the lame, the weak, with efficiency of effort and immediate survival foremost in mind Sport hunters tend to concentrate their kill in a few weeks of the regulated season, which means an elk in wolfless Colorado has ten or eleven months between hunting seasons to make a clear cut or wallow of whatever streamside grove they care to lounge in It means that scavengers like grizzlies if there were any left in Colorado would be hard pressed to feed their young in spring if the only carcasses were to be found in the wake of rifle hunters in the fall.Wolves, it has also been found, do not build roads into wilderness areas, chase animals to exhaustion on ATVs, howl at ninety decibels for hours on end, compact and erode soils, cave in stream banks, tear up meadows, crush plants, or foul the air with water and hydrocarbons BTW, for some shameless self promotion, if you like reading about animals, check out my blog on wildlife at

  9. says:

    I put off buying this book for a while, because of the title There is a certain kind of science book which I am really tired of, and the title made it look like it was this kind of book That kind, is the sort wherein you are told with every paragraph, for a few hundred pages, that We Are All Doomed.I don t even necessarily disagree all that much with the premise I just don t see a reason to read a book about it Despite much posturing to the contrary, it is not within the power of an individual to make us non doomed, and despite the apparent belief of half of the internet or , getting really, really, really mad or sad, or loud about something doesn t really impact its likelihood of occurring So, I prefer to read books which tell me things I don t know We Are All Doomed is something I already know.Fortunately, at some point I actually picked up this book and looked through it, and made the very pleasant discovery that, aside from the obligatory last chapter wherein it is explained that We Are All Doomed , the rest of the book, the vast vast majority, is about telling you science that you probably don t know.I had heard, generally speaking, that the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park had turned out to be a good thing I had also heard the phrase keystone species , often the apex predator of an ecosystem, whose loss is even devastating to that ecosystem than other species But I had not read all of the science and science history about how this works.Why, for example, is it important for wolves to hunt moose in Yellowstone, rather than just having some human hunters go thin the herd from time to time Why is it that having wolves in Yellowstone, is good for aspen trees Why is the abundance of deer in much of North America a disaster for wildflowers Why is the loss of big cats and wolves bad for the songbird population Much of it comes down to that old phrase, the enemy of my enemy is my friend , but not everything For example, the kind of deer or moose, or whatever that a human hunter picks out for a spot on their wall, or the place where they decide to hunt for it, are different than if it s an apex predator doing the hunting.There is also some fascinating discussion of the uncomfortable to those on the political left, especially fact that extinction in North America started long before 1492 It is odd to think of North America, just a few thousand years ago, with mammoths thirteen feet at the shoulder , wild horses, giant bison, giant camels, a beaver as big as a bear, the saber tooth cat, the dire wolf, a native American cheetah, and a bear with the shoulder height of a moose They all lived in North America, and within a few thousand years of the coming of humans, they were all gone Coincidence It is not just fascinating imagery like this that makes the book a good read, though There was a whole generation long struggle within the scientific community over whether or not to accept the fact that nature, really, is a strict hierarchy, and it s the ones at the top that matter the most in many ways It is no secret that scientists are, on the whole, considerably left of center, and it is hard to think of a concept ill suited to easy acceptance.But, to their credit, scientists did eventually allow themselves to be swayed by the evidence, and this is a great book to help explain how it happened Then, in the final and shortest chapter, you can also read how We Are All Doomed Or, like me, you can kind of skim that part It s a good book nonetheless.

  10. says:

    SummaryWhen we look at the extinction of a species, there is an innate curiosity of our human minds to ask why This book is a compilation of research and thoughts that have accumulated for quite a while regarding the role of predators in ecology While Stolzenburg writes with a powerful prose, the subject matter is no nonsense What is the role of predators including that of the human predator Stolzenburg starts the story at his beginning to explain his motivation for searching this topic in depth, then transfers seamlessly to the 1960s when the idea of predators having a key role in maintaining the balance of habitats as question that researchers were just beginning to take on Stolzenburg covers key research pieces of the topic which he arranges in a sordid story of political plays, ego competitions, and retries by concerned conservation ecologists Stolzenburg does not sugar coat the truth about the way that scientists and fellow policy makers can act when their dogma that they have adhered their reputation to is at stake ThoughtsThis book is easy to follow for the non ecologist, but rich enough in resources and data for any hardcore academic to use as a reference book I particularly liked the flow from one event to another and the way Stolzenburg brought the stories alive by placing them in context of what the researchers in the book had experienced It shows that science is not in a bubble, and everything is in context as well as changing depending on what that context is I also appreciated the way that Stolzenburg did not shy away from the truth of things He noted that research hangs somewhere in the balance of politics and ego Good research was shunned from the likes of Science because someone that reviewed it did like it Others attacked the researchers personally saying they were stupid for having a different idea Still, the battle continues on even today.Stolzenburg also didn t shy away from outlining how bad science and research changed the textbooks, which in turn brainwashed an entire generation into believing that ecology can somehow stay balanced without the balance despite mountains of evidence This, perhaps, is one of the intriguing lessons that Stolzenburg and the predator debate had because while conservation ecologists were making headway to right all the wrongs that misguided humans had, one person doing bad science started a cascade that would halt and reverse any progress they had made toward restoring a delicate balance I m not an ecologist, but I m a geoarchaeologist with a strong interest in habitat loss and landscape evolution I had not really considered animals in my story up until now, but this book has opened my eyes to the domino effect that upsetting the balance can have on the environment It s complex than anyone ever realises, and even the most feared predators and humans play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of our habitat.