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Book Reviews

Disappearing into the
Large-Scale Ecosystem Restora-
tion: Five Case Studies from the
United States. Doyle, M., and C. A.
Drew, editors. 2008. Island Press,
Washington, D.C. 344 pp. $35.00
(paperback). ISBN 978-1-59726-
Large-Scale Ecosystem Restora-
tion describes five restoration
projects in which the U.S. govern-
ment was a driving force: Everglades,
Platte River, San Francisco Bay and
the Sacramento and San Joaquin
River Delta, Chesapeake Bay, and
upper Mississippi River. The gov-
ernment served primarily not only
as a regulator but also as a resource
manager. The projects were ex-
pensive, and much of the funding
was from the federal treasury. In
addition, all the projects involved
negotiations between governments
and stakeholders and included adap-
tive management based on scientific
The edited volume is formatted
so that the (primarily) political and
governmental environment structure
of each project is described in de-
tail in one chapter, which is then
followed by shorter chapters cover-
ing the ecology of the restoration
and the economics of the project de-
sign. Nevertheless, if you are looking
for descriptions of what was actually
accomplished in individual projects
or even the range of options avail-
able, these are not major thrusts of
the book. The political ebb and flow
of legislation, negotiation, and the
changing landscape of agency policy
receives much more attention than
on-the-ground restoration.
The core of the problem of restora-
tion of the Everglades is the in-
creasing population pressure in
South Florida. As people moved
into Florida, drainage for agriculture
and flood-control projects was es-
tablished. The Comprehensive Ever-
glades Restoration Plan was created
by Congress as a vehicle for coop-
eration among the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, U.S. Department of the
Interior, and the State of Florida. It
was recognized that the first goal of
Everglades restoration had to be get-
ting the hydrology right (i.e., the cor-
rect amount of water had to be de-
livered to the right place at the right
time), in addition to reducing phos-
phorus, wastewater, and saltwater in-
puts. The scope of the project is such
that 226 separate restoration subpro-
jects have been proposed. Some of
them are completed, and some have
not been started.
A strategy for meeting all of the
goals has been to capture fresh wa-
ter now lost to the sea, store it, redi-
rect it to natural systems, and con-
tinue to provide water for urban and
agricultural uses without causing in-
creased flooding. The major benefit
of this project is the restoration of
the ecosystem, and because the ben-
efits are ecological and cultural, they
are difficult to translate into dollars.
Platte River
In 1994 the states of Nebraska, Col-
orado, and Wyoming agreed to nego-
tiate a basinwide agreement to man-
age water releases through the Platte
system. The conflict in the Platte
was around the allocation of water
for industrial, agricultural, and urban
uses versus releases to maintain some
semblance of the broad, disturbance-
dominated, sediment-clogged, un-
vegetated flood plain that had ex-
isted historically. Furthermore, water
users were faced with water curtail-
ment and endless rounds of consul-
tation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service (FWS) over the Endangered
Species Act (ESA). A major problem
is that overall flow is not sufficient to
meet the needs of consumptive ver-
sus environmental uses. Users of the
water were willing to accommodate
the ESA, but wanted guaranteed wa-
ter. A 1997 agreement provided less
water to the environmental uses than
the FWS wanted, but additional habi-
tat was created or improved. Eventu-
ally, use will be modified by temporal
shifts in water release, groundwater
recharge projects, and greater depen-
dence on deep wells. The leverage
provided by the ESA has given envi-
ronmental interests a seat at the bar-
gaining table.
San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento
and San Joaquin River Delta
Water from the Sacramento River
flows south into the Delta, mixes
with flows from several other river
systems, and thenflows into SanFran-
cisco Bay. At the south end of the
delta, large pumping facilities move
more than 5-million acre-feet to the
San Joaquin Valley and to southern
California cities. CALFED is a joint
federal and state program that was
envisioned as a cooperative effort
to manage water uses. As part of
this collaboration, the Bay Delta Ac-
cord was signed in 1994. Interests
of the concerned parties included
restoration, water reliability, water
quality, and levee integrity. There is
a very system-oriented approach to
water in California, and participants
believed reliability of water supply
could be achieved through storage,
conveyance, efficient water use and
Conservation Biology, Volume 23, No. 3, 777–784
2009 Society for Conservation Biology
DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01227.x
778 Book Reviews
conservation, and water transfers.
Ultimately, agency scientists fought
stakeholder scientists. Northern in-
terests fought southern ones. State
support for CALFED has been di-
luted by a new focus on manage-
ment of water supply called Delta
Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest
and most biologically diverse estuary.
It has suffered from heavy degrada-
tion and loss of species numbers and
productivity. The primary problem is
nutrient pollution, but urban growth
in the watershed has reduced much
of the resilience of the system such
that there is little filtering by forests
and wetlands. In 1978 the Chesa-
peake Bay Commission was formed
by Maryland and Virginia. Pennsyl-
vania was added in 1985. In 1983
and 1987, further agreements iden-
tified causes of bay eutrophication
and stated that controllable inputs
should be reduced. The Chesapeake
2000 agreement set up quantifiable
goals in water quality, living resource
protection, habitat protection and
restoration, sound land use, and stew-
ardship. To date, goals of the 1987
and 2000 agreements have not been
met because of a lack of specific reg-
ulatory mechanisms.
Upper Mississippi River
The Upper Mississippi Navigation
Study was initiated to analyze im-
provements in navigation for com-
merce on the part of the river north
of Cairo, Illinois. A National Research
Council (NRC) study of the environ-
mental implications of the study in
2000 resulted in a recasting of the
project to include consideration of
environmental as well as navigational
needs. In fact, the project was to
consider navigation, habitat, wildlife
refuges, water supply, the river as
a recreational resource, and the cul-
tural history of the various reaches.
The Upper Mississippi River Conser-
vation Committee, made up of fed-
eral and state natural resource man-
agers in the basin, identified the
five most detrimental river modifica-
tions: levee construction; 36 locks
and dams, which create slack-water
pools; channelization; human settle-
ment of flood plains, which increases
nutrient and sediment influx; and
connection of Lake Michigan to the
Illinois River, which create a path for
invasive species. Estimates of restora-
tion potential suggest that recon-
necting the river to its flood plain
would result in a substantial diminu-
tion of the nutrient pollution in the
Large-Scale Ecosystem Restora-
tion is, in a limited way, about
ecosystem restoration. It is also, in
a limited way, about science. The
book is, to a much larger extent,
about the way federal agencies work
and to what they will pay atten-
tion. Having worked for state, lo-
cal, or federal agencies, some of us
ran away to academia, not to sit in
an ivory tower but to actually en-
gage in restoration at the point of
a shovel. Ultimately, restoration in
America tends to be either large scale
and hugely funded or small, grass-
roots, and virtually unfunded. Both
approaches have their value. Grass-
roots restoration tends to create ac-
tivists who then use the political
process to make bigger restoration
projects possible. One inescapable
conclusion from these case histo-
ries is that, above a certain level
of funding, ecosystem restoration
disappears into the environmental–
industrial complex and becomes just
another excuse to make big corpo-
rate profits. I hope theses efforts have
good project managers.
Kern Ewing
University of Washington Botanic Gardens,
CFR, Box 354115, University of Washing-
ton, Seattle, WA 98195, U.S.A., email kern@u.
The Story of a Philosophical
Saving Creation. Nature and Faith
in the Life of Holmes Rolston III.
Preston, C. J. 2009. Trinity Univer-
sity Press, San Antonio, TX. 251 (viii
+243) pp. $25.95 (hardcover). ISBN
Creativity is the core of nature’s
value and of its theological truth. Cre-
ativity is found whenever life suffers
through a trial by growing into an
evolutionary possibility that allows
it to survive. God, for Rolston, is
found in these possibilities and in
life’s swimming upstream against en-
tropy to explore them through strug-
gle. God is a creation maker by be-
ing a creation enabler and inspirer.
Everything else is chance, and there
is no pre-set design. These are the
views Christopher Preston paints as
Rolston’s own, the results of Rol-
ston’s own struggle throughout life
to properly value the nature he first
came to love as a child and which
he has relentlessly studied his entire
life. Rolston’s life mirrors his views.
When faced with a block early in his
career, his creative, sideways adap-
tation into a new possibility made
him a world-renowned philosopher
of environmentalism and, in particu-
lar, the preservation of wild nature.
In Saving Creation, Preston takes
on a tough task. He tries to showhow
the life and ideas of a philosopher
are intertwined and turns a conven-
tional biography into the story of a
philosophical problem. This is diffi-
cult because the demands of biogra-
phy and the demands of philosophy
can pull in different ways, and to set-
tle them in the middle risks weaken-
ing both. Biography demands an al-
most detective-like thoroughness and
insightfulness into the details of a
person’s life and its motivations. It
also demands not trying to paint a
rosy picture of a person, but rather
an objective one, where empathy es-
chews idealization. Philosophical ex-
position, by contrast, demands that
Conservation Biology
Volume 23, No. 3, 2009
Book Reviews 779
ideas be presented intelligibly and
in light of obvious criticisms, which
means ideas should not simply be de-
scribed but made to evolve through
argument. What is admirable about
Preston’s attempt to join biography
and philosophy is that together they
can illustrate the philosophical life.
Some think the philosophical life is
the true object of philosophy.
Preston’s book is a convenient in-
troduction to Rolston’s thought, yet
it suffers from a number of limita-
tions. The book does not work be-
cause it is neither good biography nor
good philosophy and, perhaps more
troubling still, because it seems at
times to approach hagiography. My
way of making the most out of these
limitations is to return to the idea of
the book as one portrait, out of many
possible, of the philosophical life. Af-
ter all, the book can be read as an
example of how studying nature in
person can be “a way of doing phi-
losophy” (p. 111). Perhaps in reading
the book this way, one can explore a
possibility even in its failures, which
is exactly what Preston claims is Rol-
ston’s idea of grace in evolution.
Holmes Rolston III is often thought
of as the father of environmental
ethics. His work onthe intrinsic value
of wild nature shaped 30 years of
environmental ethics and weighed
heavily into such political debates as
the proper management of Yellow-
stone National Park. What is less well
known is that Rolston is a devout
Christian, a former Presbyterian min-
ister, who long wanted to join the-
ological with evolutionary explana-
tion. His efforts to do so won him
the Templeton Prize, the largest cash
prize in the world awarded for intel-
lectual work. The prize is given to
people who make religious discover-
ies. Rolston won it for his attempt to
reconcile Christian theology with the
life sciences. Saving Creation tells
the story of how Rolston won the
Templeton Prize in 2003 after being
fired from his post as a pastor in the
Valley of Virginia in 1965.
Preston tells Rolston’s story
chronologically, within the frame
of the 38 years between the failure
in Rolston’s life and the success he
made out of it. That frame is like
a window through which Preston
peers backward into the childhood
of Rolston, following him up to his
early work as a pastor and far ahead
to where he is now, retired and
active as ever. Because, for Rolston,
life’s value and Creation’s meaning
are found in suffering through trials
on a path toward greater complexity,
his response to being fired as a young
man exemplifies his philosophy.
Rolston’s grew up in the rural
Shenandoah Valley, the son of a min-
ister, and his life’s passion came from
his early childhood love of exploring
wild nature. Rolston studied physics
and biology at Davidson College but
decided to follow in his father’s foot-
steps and enter seminary. After sem-
inary, he took up a post in the Val-
ley of Virginia in the early 1960s.
At this eventful point in Rolston’s
life, he was diverted by a concep-
tual and philosophical problem. His
parishioners were suspicious of a
pastor who spoke in the terms of
then-contemporary biology and who
spent so much of his time alone
studying wild nature meticulously.
Rolston was absent, too, soaking up
every course he could take on ecol-
ogy or evolutionary biology at nearby
At the same time, he challenged
the ethic that motivated the strug-
gling economy of his flock. In the
1960s, the Valley of Virginia was be-
set with industrial agriculture, min-
ing, and logging. Rolston’s gut appre-
ciation of the land and knowledge
of ecology put him in opposition to
the form these practices took at the
time. Rolston was fired. Whether his
ideas or his absence alienated his
parishoners, Rolston understood that
he was fired because Christian con-
cepts did not cohere with biological
ones and because modern industrial-
ism did not value wild nature.
Not long after, Rolston discovered
philosophy and became a philosophy
professor. At this point in the book,
Preston turns more to history of ideas
and away from biography: Rolston’s
work in the 1970s and 1980s on natu-
ral value and then his struggle to bal-
ance nature preservation with his du-
ties to the poor in the 1990s. Preston
ends his book by coming full circle
to a section on theology that revisits
Rolston’s being awarded the Temple-
ton Prize.
Saving Creation does not work
as a biography. There are too few
sources cited and too many angles
unexplored. As a result, I didn’t come
to know the man. For example, Pre-
ston passes over Rolston and his
wife adopting children rather than
having their own. Given what Pre-
ston has said of Rolston up to that
point, one would expect a trial of
some sort in Rolston’s life. We learn
repeatedly that Rolston deliberately
thought in terms of his ancestors.
And it is around the same time Rol-
ston is adopting children that he de-
cides DNA is the source of value
in the natural world. Something re-
mains unspoken when a faithful fol-
lower of the family line claims DNA
is the source of value yet adopts chil-
dren. I understand why Preston did
not go into this matter, but good biog-
raphers do. They find the language to
deal humanely with what may have
made someone suffer and which may
also illuminate a life. Telling the out-
ward story does not lose the trail of
life’s inner story because creativity
lives therein.
The second problem is that the
book does not work as a his-
tory of ideas. The book’s main
ideas are frustratingly underargued.
Rolston’s first big idea was that there
are intrinsic values in nature. Pre-
ston’s recapitulation of this founda-
tional idea for Rolston contains poor
reasoning. Take, for instance, this
If we valued Earth’s biota instru-
mentally for their ability to support
us, then it was reasonable to value
the simpler lives responsible for
the supporting. These lives did not
gain their value simply from their
use by the more important species.
Conservation Biology
Volume 23, No. 3, 2009
780 Book Reviews
The values were intrinsic to the or-
ganisms themselves (p. 125).
This argument is an assertion of the
claim that there is intrinsic value. But
readers want to knowwhy there is in-
trinsic value. Moreover, what enables
something we use is usually thought
of as valuable in terms of our end of
using what we use.
The deeper issue is that Rolston’s
vision of value seems shoddy. Some-
thing valuable in the context of ethics
is desireable. That means value must
be understood in terms of an agent,
relative to ends. But none of this stan-
dard background is discussed, and
there is no explanation for how Rol-
ston can talk about values without
any agent in sight. The matter is not
helped when Preston claims Rolston
concluded that if something is valu-
able, yet not merely useful, then no
valuer is needed. How does that fol-
low? Since Aristotle, there have been
at least two kinds of value that are not
explained by usefulness, and both of
them depend on a valuer. A good his-
tory of ideas should not claim posi-
tions make sense without presenting
them sensibly.
Also confusing is Preston’s expla-
nation of how Rolston finds God in
evolution—the big idea of the book.
Rolston’s position hinges on the idea
that life increases in complexity over
time and that such complexity is in-
trinsically valuable. He can see no
explanation for increased complex-
ity in a random universe gripped
by entropy without some kind of
creative space “coaxing” innovations
that build on each other. God, for Rol-
ston, is the possibility of further com-
plexity and the “suction” toward it.
But two omissions loom here. First,
in Full House, Gould (1997, Three
Rivers Press, New York) took on
E. O. Wilson’s claims about complex-
ity and life’s apparent drive toward
it. Rolston draws heavily on Wilson,
and Gould’s proposal seems an im-
portant contrast to Rolston’s vision.
Gould held that complexity develops
as a result of morphic limitations that
give only specific directions evolu-
tion can move within a genetic line.
Once a creature is a vertebrate, do-
ing without a backbone will not do.
You have to develop on the back-
bone. But complexity is not biolog-
ical triumph. In terms of fecundity
and adaptability, the simplest organ-
isms happen to be the most biologi-
cally successful. This contrast is main-
stream and not hard to find in the
Second, if Rolston is not simply re-
naming a biological possibility with
the name God, then an explanation
must be given as to why he—an
avid natural scientist—could possi-
bly move from the empirical method
to faith. Time and again, Preston
cites Rolston’s realization that there
are natural mysteries presently unan-
swered by science as a reason that
theology should be adopted. But a
gut feeling is not a reason. And just
because we have not learned some-
thing scientifically does not mean
we can not. Moreover, that there
are mysteries at the limits of our
understanding is in no way grounds
for the abandonment of the empirical
method when seeking knowledge.
Kant made this point over 200 years
ago. The book is weakened by prob-
lems like this because Preston makes
Rolston appear dogmatic.
Illustrating the Philosophical
The most interesting part of Preston’s
book appears if you read it sideways,
not for what it intended but for what
it opens up. Saving Creation can
be read as a portrait of the philo-
sophical life. In this, it is often in-
structive, especially in the more bio-
graphical parts of the first half of the
Hearing Rolston’s story, one is
struck by how uncompromising he
was in his search to understand and
recapture the meaning of the Shenan-
doah Valley he explored as a boy. His
love of studying nature took him to
study science at Davidson College to
which he later donated the million
dollars fromthe Templeton Prize. His
love of studying nature led him to
lose his job as a pastor. It took him to
philosophy and then to the formation
of a field of thought. This itinerary, in
itself, is remarkable.
Moreover, Rolston’s trajectory can
be understood only as a search for
a kind of wisdom, rather than de-
tached theoretical knowledge. Rol-
ston wished to see the Earth val-
ued properly. This zigzagging across
disciplines and vocations in search
of an answer that illuminates how
things should be seen is a mark of
strong philosophical natures, as is the
sense that theoretical work comes
from a passionate inner drive to re-
store human priorities. Both are an-
tidotes to scholastic professionalism
and its view of philosophers as good
students who master someone else’s
A third antidote comes in the way
one does philosophy. Although Rol-
ston proved to be a traditional—
albeit lyrical—scholar in his writing,
Preston manages to show how Rol-
ston did philosophy in other, equally
vital ways. The best example is when
Rolston went out to study life in per-
son. Rolston, it turns out, is much
more like an ancient philosopher
than one might think. He pursued—
almost ascetically—practices beyond
verbal dialectic that enabled him to
experience value properly and to
keep his love of wisdom alive. This
is what the ancient schools of philos-
ophy taught—Platonists, Stoics, Cyn-
ics, Epicureans. They taught a way of
life, not simply a way of verbiage or
even a way of theory.
Here is where any scientist or pro-
fessional philosopher might profit:
the life one lives can seek wisdom,
not simply knowledge. What remains
to be worked out is what it would
be to accept that studying nature in
person is a way to do philosophy.
From the side of the discipline of
philosophy, how should fieldwork,
teaching, research, and tenure be in-
corporated? These are questions that
have been asked recently (notably
by K. Anthony Appiah). And from
Conservation Biology
Volume 23, No. 3, 2009
Book Reviews 781
the side of the natural sciences, how
should wisdom become an organiz-
ing concept that knowledge serves?
This question, too, has recently re-
ceived significant funding (notably at
the University of Chicago’s multidis-
ciplinary Defining Wisdom project,
which draws on the arts and the sci-
More personally, one might ask, Have
I ever searched for anything that
hard? Was my search universally and
truly valuable?
Jeremy Bendik-Keymer
Department of Philosphy, Le Moyne College,
1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, NY 13214,
U.S.A., email
Putting Passion to Work
Saving the Earth as a Career: Ad-
vice on Becoming a Conservation
Professional. Hunter, M. L., D. B.
Lindenmayer, and A. J. K. Calhoun.
2007. Blackwell Publishing, Malden,
Conservation professionals do in-
deed serve as “doctors for the earth,”
as the authors suggest, yet despite
such profound responsibility, the
profession lags far behind the so-
phistication of human and animal
medicine. That diagnosis and treat-
ment for the “patient” (earth) is dif-
ficult, sporadic, mostly untried, and
often politically unfavorable is a re-
flection of the complexity and scale
of the endeavor. It is not surprising
then that aspiring conservation pro-
fessionals have no standard courses
of study or certifying exams. Saving
the Earth as a Career, one of the first
books to provide a much-needed ref-
erence for navigating the confusing
mass of choices, pitfalls, and oppor-
tunities goes a long way toward fill-
ing this rather large void. An added
bonus is that Hunter and his coau-
thors manage to do so in a casual
style that is easy to read, interesting,
and even funny. The wisdom these
three accomplished professors have
gained from their own experiences
and that of their students is obvious
from the beginning, shines through-
out, and is shared generously. I
wish this book had been around
when I was making my own career
The quest for career satisfac-
tion begins from within, and self-
examination is the theme of the first
chapter, “Is this the right career for
you?” Conservation careers span a
wide range from naturalist to envi-
ronmental consultant, from govern-
ment scientist to community orga-
nizer, from water-quality specialist
to conservation planner. For any of
these, the overriding requirement is
a passion for making a difference to
the environment. It is also necessary
to weather the realities of the job,
such as comparatively low pay and
large amounts of computer time. In
this chapter, the authors successfully
foster introspection and guide expec-
tations (like pay scales) to a realistic
Most of Saving the Earth as a Ca-
reer covers undergraduate and grad-
uate university preparation for work-
ing in conservation. The advice is
solid. Take relevant courses, work
hard, and do well academically and
socially (having a good attitude and
getting along with people is impor-
tant in most conservation work). Pur-
sue activities outside academia and
begin to think like a “conservation
professional who happens to be at
the student stage” (p. 20) rather than
a “student studying a conservation
discipline” (p. 20). The intricacies
of graduate school, from deciding
which type of program to pursue
(master’s with thesis, professional
master’s, PhD) and finding a good ad-
visor to getting accepted into grad-
uate school, are outlined with detail
and insight, making the reader an in-
stant insider. An example of one such
tidbit of helpful advice: “choosing a
program without a visit to see the
university and meet your advisor and
future colleagues is like going on a
very long, very important blind date”
(p. 51).
The authors also give valuable in-
sight into what it takes to succeed
in their world once you have ar-
rived. Of particular importance is re-
silience, especially during the first
season of collecting data. “Weather,
plants, animals, and human subjects
do not always behave according
to plan. Study sites may be bull-
dozed. If you assume every data point
will make or break your project,
you will generate a lot of stress
and you may be blind to assess-
ing things that should be abandoned
and new opportunities for explo-
ration” (p. 109). Acknowledged also
is the importance of communicat-
ing well (teaching assistantships are
great for improving communication
and public-speaking skills), publish-
ing, attending professional meetings,
and making contacts. The hard-knock
lessons the authors have learned (and
watched students learn) are truly a
gift with the heartfelt intention of giv-
ing future conservationists their best
With degree and fleshed-out re-
sume in hand, it is time to see
what opportunities are out there,
time to revisit career goals, and
to use those personal contacts to
land your dream job in conservation.
Academia may seem like a natural
choice (and indeed the one that the
authors all made), but the authors
make it clear that going the academic
route will virtually guarantee a sup-
port role in conservation, rather than
one on the front line. Those seek-
ing more direct involvement may
want to consider employment with
a government agency, nongovern-
mental organization, or consulting
The final advice-filled chapter,
“Making a Difference,” is essentially
an encouraging and gentle shove
into the conservation world. Ways
for new conservation professionals
to avoid a few key “pitfalls” in-
clude recognizing there is more
to conservation than science and
Conservation Biology
Volume 23, No. 3, 2009
782 Book Reviews
remembering that great leaders may
be conveners rather than authoritar-
ians. In addition, the authors wisely
recommend checking in periodically
with a code of ethics, including
that of the Society for Conservation
I put the book to the test when
I gave Saving the Earth to a di-
verse group of interns working on
conservation projects for The Nature
Conservancy around the world. One
of the interns, a senior in college
thinking about graduate school, said
the book really helped her and pro-
vided answers to many of her ques-
tions. Another intern, just beginning
her second year of graduate school,
thought the book should be kept at
hand and that each chapter should
be read as one reaches the next
step. She liked the “tips on admis-
sions, conferences, research topics,
and all the other things students have
no idea how to handle when [start-
ing] graduate school” and thought
the book was clear and easy to
Although these students belong to
the audience the authors appear to
target (students in the sciences head-
ing into or already attending gradu-
ate school), others are likely to find
the book less helpful and even at
times frustrating. This brings me to
the one downside of the book, its
exclusivity. Whereas the title of the
book and the first chapter appeal to
a broad audience—anyone wanting
to make a difference in conserving
the Earth—the focus thereafter veers
strongly toward academia (courses,
graduate school, research, publish-
ing, and conferences) and remains
there for most of the book. Readers
interested in, for example, the pol-
itics and policy-making side of con-
servation or who cannot pursue fur-
ther formal education may not find as
much help here as they would like.
The authors admit their academic
bias, but I suspect this will not as-
suage the disappointment of those
enticed by the title and introduction.
One student explained it this way,
“[I]n the opening chapter it states
that people make their way into con-
servation from all kinds of academic
and social backgrounds. The authors
repeat the same statement at the end
of the book, but in between those
two instances there is very little to
indicate that one could actually end
up in conservation without going to
grad[uate] school in hard science.”
This intern went so far as to say “the
book . . . could serve as a total turn-
off for somebody who lacks . . . aca-
demic privilege.”
Two remedies come to mind. The
authors could (for the next edition)
simply give the book a different sub-
title, say Saving the Earth as a Ca-
reer: a Guide to Education and Em-
ployment for Conservation Science
Professionals. Alternatively, the au-
thors could appeal to a broader au-
dience by paring down some of the
graduate school research and pub-
lishing details and adding new sec-
tions. These could include, for exam-
ple, the current trend in professional
masters’ degrees (such as the Mas-
ter’s of Environmental Management
degree at Duke University) or how
those in countries without such pro-
grams might learn from on-the-job
training with an international non-
governmental organization (some of
which will sponsor further educa-
tion). Additional sections could in-
clude a host of skills that conser-
vation professionals in various ca-
reers will likely need. For instance,
information specialists and geograph-
ical information system (GIS) techni-
cians and analysts will need specific
GIS, remote sensing, database, net-
work, and, likely, statistical training.
Working for a conservation organiza-
tion to change national or local poli-
cies will require an entirely different
set of skills. It would be marvelous
were this book to evolve into a com-
prehensive guide for anyone prepar-
ing for any type of conservation
Saving the Earth as a Career is
a valuable reference and the authors
have taken a momentous step for-
ward in guiding future generations
to protect the planet’s natural as-
sets. For students interested in pur-
suing the science side of conserva-
tion via graduate school, there is no
better guide. As these students grad-
uate and begin their careers, perhaps
Hunter, Lindenmayer, and Calhoun
will continue to tap their wisdom,
expertise, and experience to cre-
ate a sequel, possibly something like
Success in Saving the Earth—Long-
Term Impact in Your Conservation
Ren´ ee B. Mullen
Biology Department, Eureka College, 300 East
College Avenue, Eureka, IL 61530, U.S.A.,
Equating Forest Conservation
with Hornbill Conservation
Ecology and Conservation of
Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the
Forest. Kinnaird, M. F., and T. G.
O’Brien. 2007. University of Chicago
Press, Chicago, IL. 323 9 (xviii +315)
pp. $45.00 (hardcover). ISBN-13:978-
Hornbills are perhaps the most dis-
tinctive birds of the Old World trop-
ics. With their exaggerated casques
and raucous calls, they are hard to
miss for anyone visiting the tropi-
cal forests of Asia and Africa. From
a conservation perspective, they are
also some of the most salient species.
Larger avian species like the hornbill
represent critically important seed
dispersers of tropical forests and are
emblematic of a keystone species.
Despite the fundamental role horn-
bills play in providing ecological ser-
vices to tropical forests, there have
been few efforts to fully summa-
rize their importance in an ecolog-
ical and conservation context. The
volume by Kinnaird and O’Brien de-
scribes the important role hornbills
Conservation Biology
Volume 23, No. 3, 2009
Book Reviews 783
play in the maintenance of tropical
forests. Building on their 14 years
of research working for the Wildlife
Conservation Society in Indonesia,
the book provides a wealth of life
history on Asian hornbills, much of
it never before published. Yet the
book is much more than a book on
the biology of the hornbill. Rather,
the authors use hornbills as a vehi-
cle to examine the comparative life-
history variation of a tropical ver-
tebrate and the many challenges of
rainforest conservation in Southeast
The first two chapters focus on
background issues such as the sys-
tematics, morphology, and distribu-
tion of hornbills and will likely be
of greatest interest to specialists. In
the third chapter is where the au-
thors hit their stride, discussing the
ecological context of hornbills. Sub-
sequent chapters focus on their feed-
ing ecology, reproductive biology,
social systems, ecological services,
and, finally, threats and outlook. The
book contains many analyses that
will be of interest to conservation
biologists. In chapter 7, for exam-
ple, the authors examine the ecologi-
cal services hornbills provide. Rather
than just documenting hornbills as
important seed dispersers, they use
detailed data they collected on the
Red-knobbed (Aceros cassidix) and
Sulawesi Tartic Hornbills (Penlopi-
des exarhatus) to model the impact
of hornbills on forest dynamics. To
do this, they used an integrative ap-
proach, imputing data on hornbill
seed-dispersal rates, population size,
and detailed data on tropical tree fe-
cundity and mortality, seed produc-
tion, and dispersal and germination
rates. The results provide an estimate
of the numbers of hornbills needed
to fully provide the dispersal ser-
vices needed to maintain a healthy
intact forest. The approach, although
containing some unrealistic assump-
tions (the authors admit the model
assumes no other dispersers) is, nev-
ertheless, a breath of fresh air in
the realm of conservation planning,
which all too often focuses solely on
species presence and absence in de-
signing reserves, rather than address-
ing whether key species that do oc-
cur do so in sufficient numbers to
sustain fundamental ecological pro-
The book adroitly outlines the
many threats faced by Asia’s horn-
bills, with only 30% of their range
left and many parts under siege by
logging and the expansion of agro-
forestry. Many of the major threats
will not be new to those famil-
iar with tropical forests, but Kin-
naird and O’Brien’s first-hand ex-
perience and empirical findings are
both refreshing and disturbing. With
ever-expanding human populations
across most of Asia, it is not easy
to be optimistic about forest con-
servation. The authors examine the
multifarious causes of deforestation,
lending valuable insights forged from
many years of working on the front
lines of rainforest conservation. Their
perspective and insights are always
pragmatic, never dogmatic, and will
be of value to conservation biologists
working in any field.
The final section of the book ex-
plores the future of forest conser-
vation and hornbills and evaluates
possible policy and management so-
lutions. Despite the importance of
hornbills as a keystone species, they
have generated comparatively lit-
tle conservation concern compared
with some avian families (e.g., par-
rots). The hope is this book will help
inspire a greater focus on hornbill
conservation and the need to equate
forest conservation with hornbill
conservation. Two highlights of the
book are its exceptional photographs
of hornbills, by the acclaimed pho-
tographer Tim Laman, and the bi-
otic and artistically pleasing black-
and-white illustrations by Jonathan
This is not just a book for horn-
bill enthusiasts, although it will most
certainly become one of the classics.
Although not all portions of the book
will resonate across all disciplines, it
is a welcome and useful volume for
all biologists interested in the eco-
logical dynamics and conservation of
tropical forests.
Thomas B. Smith
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the
Environment, and Department of Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology, University of Califor-
nia, Los Angeles, CA 90095, U.S.A., email
Along the Banks
RiverTime. Ecotravel on the
World’s Rivers. Hood, M. A. 2008.
State University of New York Press,
Albany, NY. 276 pp. $23.00 (hard-
cover). ISBN978-0-7914-7389-4.
Many books have been published
that describe interactions of humans
withtheir natural environment. How-
ever, few are both poetic and scien-
tific. RiverTime by Mary Hood pro-
vides a loving description of rivers of
our world. She takes the reader on a
nature walk and provides a guided
tour in the language of a talented
poet and highly competent scientist.
Her descriptions of trails along rivers
and the wildlife inhabiting those
river banks are gentle and precise.
Her tour ranges from the smallest
rivers—the Apalachicola, Tensaw,
and Klamath—to the mightiest—the
Amazon, Yangtze, and Nile.
Hood’s description of the river en-
vironment is coupled with sympa-
thetic portrayals of families along the
Ganges, Nile, and small and large
rivers in the United States. RiverTime
is easy reading and highly enjoyable,
with its descriptions of pathways,
cities, and steel mills and personal
observations on topics ranging from
bamboo thickets along the banks of
the Yangtze to portrait paintings of
villages on the hillside of the Yangtze.
The beauty of this book is the combi-
nation of poetry and scientific details
on, for example, birds and vegetation
in the universal patterns of the river-
ine environment.
Conservation Biology
Volume 23, No. 3, 2009
784 Book Received
In addition, the author’s strong
environmental sensitivity comes
through, but in a gentle manner,
without strident proselytizing. For
those who would like to experience
the delight of hiking along the rivers
of the world fromtheir armchair, this
book can provide hours of pleasant,
informative, and picturesque eco-
travel on the world’s rivers.
Rita R. Colwell
Center for Bioinformatics and Computa-
tional Biology, University of Maryland, Col-
lege Park, MD 20742, U.S.A., email rcolwell@
Recently Received
(January–February 2009)
Conservation for a New Generation. Re-
defining Natural Resources Management.
Knight, R. L., and C. White, editors. 2008. Is-
land Press, Washington, D.C. 336 pp. $30.00
(paperback). ISBN 978-1-59726-438-9.
Forest Community Connections. Dono-
ghue, E. M., and V. E. Sturtevant, editors. 2008.
RFF Press, Washington, D.C. 280 pp. $80.00
(hardcover) ISBN 978-1-933115-68-9. $39.95
(paperback). ISBN 978-1-933115-67-2.
The Incomplete Eco-Philosopher. Essays
from the Edges of Environmental Ethics.
Weston, A. 2009. State University of NewYork,
Albany, NY. 209 (xiii + 196) pp. $21.95 (pa-
perback). ISBN 978-0-7914-7670-3.
Natural Environments of Arizona: From
Deserts to Mountains. Folliott, P., and Owen
K. Davis, editors. 2008. The University of Ari-
zona Press, Tucson, AZ. 208 pp. $40.00 (hard-
cover). ISBN 978-0-8165-2696-3. $19.95 (pa-
perback). ISBN 978-0-8165-2697-0.
Nature of the Rainforest. Costa Rica and
Beyond. Forsyth, A. Photographs by M. Fog-
den and P. Fogden. 2008. Cornell University
Press, Ithaca, NY. 200 pp. $29.95 (paperback).
ISBN 978-0-8014-7475-0.
Old Growth in a New World: a Pacific
Northwest Icon Reexamined. 2008. Spies,
T. A., and S. L. Duncan. 2008. Island Press,
Washington, D.C. 360 pp. $32.00 (paperback).
ISBN 978-1-59726-410-5.
Potato: a History of the Propitious Escu-
lent. Reader, J. 2009. Yale University Press,
New Haven, CT. 336 pp. $28.00 (paperback).
ISBN 978-0-300-14109-2.
The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems 2008.
H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Eco-
nomics, and the Environment. 2008. The
Heinz Center and Island Press, Washington,
D.C. 368 pp. $29.50 (paperback) ISBN 978-1-
Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota. Smith, W.
R. 2008. University of Minnesota Press, Min-
neapolis, MN. 744 pp. $59.95 (hardcover).
ISBN 978-0-8166-4065-2.
Urban Herpetology. Mitchell, J. C., R. E. Jung
Brown, and B. Bartholomew. 2008. Herpeto-
logical Conservation Series 3. Society for the
Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Salt Lake
City, UT. 586 pp. $75.00. ISBN 978-0-916984-
Conservation Biology
Volume 23, No. 3, 2009