From Richard Carstensen, September 21 2015.

The great questions in ecology

As for so much of the hierarchical ‘scaffolding’ of juneaunature, this section is still more ambition than accomplishment. As we set up the site in 2013, I envisioned a subsection where we could hang essays, interviews, movies, etc that didn’t fit neatly into the categories of Juneau’s favorite places, the critter family tree, geology, or habitat descriptions. Think of the sub-categories below as the philosophical underpinnings (or in terms of a naturalist’s life trajectory, more typically the culminations, or maturations) of natural history.

In some ways, I feel like an impostor, rolling out these multi-syllabic labels from the world of academia. Although people often call me a scientist, I’m a college dropout, and barely passed what Oberlin college dubbed ‘poet’s biology‘ in the 1960s. When I tried to write about productivity after year-1 of the Ground-truthing Project in 2005, Mary Willson, the clan-mother of Juneau ecologists, made me aware how woefully ungrounded I was in conceptual ecology.

So please explore the musings in this section called ‘Ecology 101‘ under advisement–that its lead author has come in the back door after 40-or-so years of bushwacking, and doesn’t know a beta-diversity from a beta-blocker.

And if you happen to actually BE an ecologist, by all means, come see us. In our early years, Discovery Southeast never claimed to be the voice of science. But as we began to work in all of Juneau’s elementary schools, teachers increasingly relied on us to fulfill their science requirements. That’s not too challenging for a decent naturalist in those early grade levels, but by high school and college, a purveyor of science education should have a degree or two.

In those grades, and in this website, the best solution is a collaboration–between folks like Steve Merli and me, who’ve been around the landscape block a few thousand times, and folks who’ve paid their academic dues (and could tell me the difference between a beta-diversity and a beta-blocker).



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Natural History of Juneau Trails: A Watershed Approach


If you or someone on your gift list enjoys Juneau’s outdoors, this book is for you.  It is packed with information for the hiker, hunter, or any student of the outdoors.  Richard’s insightful text, full color maps, and dozens of recent and historic photographs explain the landforms, water features, and natural environments Juneau residents navigate every day.  Dive in for a whole new understanding of the areas you love to explore, with one of Southeast Alaska’s foremost naturalists.