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    Ending Epidemics: A History of Escape from Contagion: “Ending Epidemics is an important book, deeply and lovingly researched, written with precision and elegance, a sweeping story of centuries of human battle with infectious disease. Conniff is a brilliant historian with a jeweler’s eye for detail. I think the book is a masterpiece.” Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘fireflies’

Lights Off, Please: We’re Having Sex Here

Posted by Richard Conniff on December 11, 2008

firefliesThere was a sad story in The New York Times the other day about the decline of fireflies in Southeast Asia, due to human encroachment on their habitat, particularly from intrusive lighting that discourages these pulsing, luminescent beetles from mating.  The story doesn’t elaborate on the point, but ecotourism to see the fireflies also seems to be a culprit.  Here’s part of the story:

The people who live along the Mae Klong River here, an hour south of Bangkok, offer the kind of anecdotal evidence that has caused concern. A generation ago, they say, the flashing trees were so thick along the riverbank that they served almost as beacons for boaters in the night.

“The light from the fireflies helped us see the curves and junctions of those canals at night and helped us paddle through,” said Klao Sakulnum, 68, who has lived here since she was a child.

Fishermen worked in their nighttime glow, said Pisit Ek Thaiprasert, 40, a firefly conservationist who lives near here. Before electricity arrived, he said, villagers put them in bottles to provide a dim light inside their mosquito nets, about as strong as a cellphone screen.

Since then, he said, development and firefly tourism have reduced their population along this part of the river by two-thirds.

Here’s some background reading on fireflies.

The photo comes from a web site about organic gardening in Michigan.

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