My career in ecology now spans over four decades, and many individuals have influenced me. My debt to them, particularly those who mentored me, is immense, and I will not begin to try and name them all. But for many years I have had long and productive talks with Don Shure, Frank Kuserk, and Dean Cocking at annual meetings of the Ecological Society of America, and some of what we discussed is undoubtedly contained herein. I recall in particular a late night conversation with Frank about just what, if any, paradigms exist in ecology.
Some material in this book was part of a paper I authored that was published in Northeastern Naturalist, vol. 5, no. 2 (1998). I am grateful to Joerg-Henner Lotze for permission to incorporate some of that material into this book.
I also thank John Alexander of Recorded Books for permission to adapt some material from two of my published Modern Scholar lecture series, “Behold the Mighty Dinosaur” and “The Ecological Planet: An Introduction to Earth's Major Ecosystems,” for use in this book.
I wrote this book while having the honor of being A. Howard Meneely Professor of Biology at Wheaton College, which facilitated a full-year sabbatical. I thank Provost Susanne Woods and Provost Molly Easo Smith of Wheaton College for providing me with the time necessary to write. The following persons have kindly read and commented on various chapters: Martha Vaughan, William E. Davis, Jr., Betsey Dyer, Donald Shure, Taber Allison,