Boom and Bust:
bird stories for a dry country
Edited by Libby Robin, Robert Heinsohn, and Leo Joseph
CSIRO Publishing, 2009
Winner, Whitley Medal 2009 for Landmark Zoological Publication
Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
In Boom and Bust, the authors draw on the natural history of Australia’s charismatic birds to explore the relations between fauna, people and environment. They consider changing ideas about deserts and how these have helped to understand birds and their behaviour in this driest of continents. The book describes the responses of animals and plants to environmental variability and stress. It is also a cultural concept, capturing the patterns of change wrought by humans in Australia, where landscapes began to become cultural about 55,000 years ago as ecosystems responded to Aboriginal management. In 1788, the British settlement brought, almost simultaneously, both agricultural and industrial revolutions to a land previously managed by fire for hunting. How have birds responded to this second dramatic invasion?
Boom and Bust is also a tool for understanding global change. How can Australians in the 21st century better understand how to continue to live in this land as its conditions are dynamically unfolding in response to the major anthropogenic changes to the whole Earth system? This interdisciplinary collection is written in a straightforward and accessible style. Many of the writers are practising field specialists, and have woven their personal field work into the stories they tell about the birds.
Read more: Living With Uncertainty
Rob Heinsohn is Associate Professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University where his work focuses on the evolutionary ecology and conservation biology of birds. He has worked extensively on the behaviour of cooperatively breeding birds in Australia’s south-east woodlands, and on Eclectus Parrots and Palm Cockatoos on Cape York Peninsula and in New Guinea.
Leo Joseph is Director of the Australian National Wildlife Collection at CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra. With an emphasis on the study of Australian birds in the research environment of a modern museum collection, his work integrates evolutionary history and present-day ecology. The aim of this work is to contribute to understanding of bird evolution. His roots are in natural history, especially in Australia’s arid and semi-arid country.
Steve Morton is an animal ecologist who is especially interested in Australian deserts. Most of his career has been spent with CSIRO, first in Alice Springs and subsequently in Canberra. He is a member of CSIRO’s Executive who presently divides his time between Canberra, Melbourne and Alice Springs when possible.
Penny Olsen is a research scientist based in the School of Botany and Zoology at the Australian National University. Her most recent book, Glimpses of Paradise: The Quest for the Beautiful Parrakeet, was published by the National Library of Australia in 2007. She edits Wingspan, the membership magazine of Birds Australia.
Graham Pizzey AM (1930 - 2001) was one of Australia’s great bird observers, nature writers and conservationists. His series of Field Guides to Australian Birds began in 1965, with a commission from William Collins, the publisher of the Peterson guides to North America and elsewhere. His current guide was undertaken in partnership with CSIRO artist, Frank Knight, and since his death, it has continued to be updated by a scientific editor, in cooperation with the Pizzey family. Graham Pizzey was famous for writing that conveyed with immediacy the jizz (the appearance and demeanor) of every Australian species of bird. His descriptions of the ‘voice’ of the birds are invaluable in the field.
Julian Reid is a biologist with expertise in avian and community ecology and a particular interest in Australian deserts. He divides his time between the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University and CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
Libby Robin is a historian of ideas at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University and the Centre for Historical Research, National Museum of Australia. Her most recent book, How a Continent Created a Nation (UNSW Press), won the New South Wales Premier’s Award for Australian History in 2007.
Deborah Bird Rose is a Professor in the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion at Macquarie University, where her work focuses on entwined social and ecological justice. She has carried out extensive research with Aboriginal people in Australia, and is currently working on a project on ‘love and extinction’. Her most recent solo book is Reports from a Wild Country: Ethics for Decolonisation (UNSW Press, 2004).
David Roshier is a Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University, Albury. He has broad interests in dispersal and movement ecology of birds, mostly in arid ecosystems. Currently, his research is focused on movement and migration in waterbirds in Australia and New Guinea.
Mike Smith, an archaeologist, is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Historical Research, National Museum of Australia. He has worked extensively across the Australian desert attempting to piece together the human and environmental histories of this fascinating region. In 2006 he was awarded the Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology.
For more information: http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6009.htm