Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#StevesLibrary: A Buzz in the Meadow

Yes everyone, #StevesLibrary is back! Had a hectic few weeks to get my fieldwork sorted out and get back into the routine but now I’m back on track, I can dedicate more time to reading. I’ve just finished A Buzz in the Meadow by Professor Dave Goulson, which was quite a pleasant read with a clear message. Insects are important and we should be doing all we can to save them. Goulson is one of the people I associate the revival of natural history writing and it’s popularity with. Naturalists have been writing books for years but they were never as popular as they are now following Goulson’s earlier book A Sting in the Tale.

One of the reasons for Goulson’s popularity is because he is such an amusing writer, making the most mundane topics extremely interesting. I wonder how his writing comes across to someone without an extensive knowledge or background in zoology/entomology. Little known fact, as an undergraduate I assisted with a number of entomological projects where I sat at a microscope and sorted the specimens to family or species level, depending on the project and the complexity of this task. A Buzz in the Meadow focusses on Goulson’s French wild flower meadow, the wildlife within and the interconnectedness of life. This all seems like a tough task to fit into an easily readable popular science book by Goulson pulls it off.

Towards the end of the book, there are stark reminders of what humankind is doing to the planet. This starts with an outline of Goulson’s own research into neonicotinoid pesticides and their effects on bees. Long story short, it’s not good. He then moves onto the history of Easter Island and how it’s inhabitants eroded so much of the natural ecosystem that the island became uninhabitable. Goulson uses this analogy to demonstrate what we as a species are doing to the planet, little by little until one day it will be longer able to sustain us. If the insects disappear, then so do we.

I highly recommend A Buzz in the Meadow to anyone working in conservation or with a keen interest for the natural world. It’s one of those books that has an impact on your thought processes and makes you wonder.

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