“Natural history is the scientific study of plants and animals in their natural environments. It is concerned with levels of organization from the individual organism to the ecosystem, and stresses identification, life history, distribution, abundance, and inter-relationships. It often and appropriately includes an esthetic component.” – Stephen G. Herman
“Natural history is a practice of intentional, focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-than-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy.” – Tom L. Fleischner
Natural history can be understood as the “story of nature”. Moving across disciplines, natural history flows through science and art. It inspires poetry, photography, and literature. We experience it during a nature walk or when we examine stars in the night sky. As a field of research, it refers to the systematic study of organisms, including plants and animals in their environments, usually through observational methods in the sciences. As a practice, it emphasises focused awareness and receptivity to the natural world.
Below are a few links and videos that illuminate the world of natural history in various ways.
Natural History in BC: Pacific Wild * Comox Valley Museum Comox Valley, BC * Royal BC Museum Victoria, BC * Beaty Biodiversity Museum UBC, Vancouver BC * Museum of Natural History Vancouver Island University, BC
Life Cycle Transitions. See a Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly emerge from its pupa. This endangered species is drawn to the Garry Oak ecosystem on Hornby Island.
Observations. Orcas seen breaching close to Hornby Island. Same place, different days.
Other Worlds. Magical underwater footage taken by a diver off Hornby Island.
Biodiversity. Learn about BC’s Great Bear Rainforest, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, and home to the rare white Spirit Bear.
Animal Pleasures. A pod of orcas surprise onlookers as they rub against the pebbles at the shore of Discovery Beach, BC.
Prehistoric Creatures. Luis Chiappe, director of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Dinosaur Institute, discusses Mosasaurs. Watch the neat animation of mosasaurs in action! The Hornby Island Natural History Centre has a mosasaur fossil that was found on the island.
Incredible Phenomenon. Murmurations: at dusk on a winter evening in southern England a flock of 200,000 European starlings congregate to soar in breathtaking formations before roosting for the night. “You can hear this roaring noise in the air, and then suddenly they’ll hail down like giant black hailstones.”
Differences. Can you tell the difference between a raven and a crow?
Beauty. A Sphinx moth buzzes in the garden
Exploration. Take a virtual tour to see some of the highlights of the galleries and behind the scenes of the Natural History Museum in London, one of the largest museums of natural history in the world.
Wild Wonderment. National geographic footage of animals and nature.
To learn more about natural history, talk to your local librarian about ordering books on natural history or visit your local Natural History Centre!
Pictured Above: Fireflies and Star Trails No. 1 photo by Mike Ikewinski, CC BY 2.0.