Field biology is enjoying a resurgence due to several factors, the most important being the realization that there is no ecology, no conservation, and no ecosystem restoration without an understanding of the basic relationships between species and their environments—an understanding gleaned only through field-based natural history. With this resurgence, modern field biologists find themselves asking fundamental existential questions such as: Where did we come from? What is our story? Are we part of a larger legacy? In This Land Is Your Land, seasoned field biologist Michael J. Lannoo answers these questions and more in a tale rooted in the people and institutions of the Midwest. It is a story told from the ground up, a rubber boot–based natural history of field biology in America.
Lannoo illuminates characters such as John Wesley Powell, William Temple Hornaday, and Olaus and Adolph Murie—homegrown midwestern field biologists who either headed east to populate major research centers or went west to conduct their fieldwork along the frontier. From the pioneering work of Victor Shelford, Henry Chandler Cowles, and Aldo Leopold to contemporary insights from biologists such as Jim Furnish and historians such as William Cronon, Lannoo’s unearthing of American—and particularly midwestern—field biologists reveals how these scientists influenced American ecology, conservation biology, and restoration ecology, and in turn drove global conservation efforts through environmental legislation and land set-asides. This Land Is Your Land reveals the little-known legacy of midwestern field biologists, whose ethos and discoveries have enabled us to preserve and understand not just their land, but all lands.