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Water, Earth, Fire: Louisiana's Natural Heritage Paperback – December 20, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Keddy, a professor of biology for thirty years, lived on the edge of a Louisiana swamp while he wrote this book. He has authored several prize-winning books on ecology and received the National Wetlands Award for Science Research. He has helped develop conservation programs for the pelican state, advising groups including The Nature Conservancy, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and Earthjustice. He is frequently invited as a speaker to both small meetings and large scientific conferences. In this book he shares his passion for the natural environment of Louisiana.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris, Corp. (December 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1436362334
  • ISBN-13: 978-1436362337
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,929,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The Author

Dr. Paul Keddy is a biologist and writer now living in the deciduous forests of Lanark County. A professor of ecology for 30 years, he has published over 100 scholarly papers and several books. He achieved international designation as a Highly Cited Researcher, has awards from organizations including the Society of Wetland Scientists and the Environmental Law Institute, and, locally, is designated a Champion of Nature. Although he has worked on many types of ecological issues, the focus of his career has been upon the principles that organize plant communities, with particular emphasis upon wetlands. He has even studied alligators. Recent lectures have included Washington,Toronto, Madrid, Lyon and Lanark.

The bigger issue that flows through many of Paul's books is the challenge of combining hard science with enlightened conservation. He has written a number of articles about the difficulty of this task. Too often, one ends up, on one hand, with science detached from reality, and on the other hand, management that is ineffective or even harmful. It need not be this way. His most recent book, "Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation", is written to illustrate how hard science supports effective conservation, a win-win situation.

Paul is currently living on a long dead end road in the forest not far from Ottawa, Ontario where he owns several hundred acres of forest and provincially significant wetland. His office overlooks a beaver pond. The forests and wetlands are being restored to their original natural conditions.

His web site is

More on the books

Paul's first scientific book, "Competition", was published by Chapman and Hall in 1989, while he was a professor at the University of Ottawa. That book won the Lawson Medal (awarded by the Canadian Botanical Association) and the Gleason Prize (from the New York Botanical Garden). A later book, "Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation" (Cambridge University Press, 2000) received the Merit Prize from the Society of Wetland Scientists. With Dr. Evan Weiher he co-edited "Ecological Assembly Rules: Perspectives, Advances, Retreats" (Cambridge University Press, 1999). With Dr. Lauchlan Fraser he co-edited "The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation" (Cambridge University Press, 2005). He also has written a large and frequently overlooked second edition of "Competition" (Kluwer, 2001), "the book with the fighting zebras on the cover."

The plant ecology text book, a full decade in preparation, is an introduction to plant ecology from a global perspective. Titled, "Plants and Vegetation: Origins, Processes, Consequences" (Cambridge University Press, 2007), it aims to combine the richness of plant natural history with the elegance of simple concepts and models. It is intended as a text for introductory plant ecology courses, as well as general reading for those seeking to deepen their appreciation and understanding of plant communities.

Paul's most recent project, a new edition of "Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation", was written, as noted above, to illustrate how hard science supports effective conservation. It has received strong positive reviews and is increasingly used in university courses and wetland management training.

Finally, there are two natural history guides. The book on Louisiana's nature and wild places reflects the ten years he spent there as the first holder of the Schlieder Endowed Chair of Environmental Studies. It is called "Water, Earth, Fire: Louisiana's Natural Heritage". The title was carefully chosen, since Louisiana formed as a delta under water, from earth carried by the Mississippi, and has forests in which fire is an important natural process. As Keddy told his Louisiana students, the land is either so wet it floods, or so dry it burns. Both are important natural processes upon which many species from cypress trees to gopher tortoises are utterly dependent. The other natural history guide is to his own county of Lanark. Called "Earth, Water Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County", it tells the story of the natural communities of the Ottawa Valley with particular reference to Lanark County. Note the subtle difference in titles - Lanark County is built in bedrock (earth), has many lakes and wetlands (water) and, yes, many of its forests are adapted to regular burning (fire). Paul considers these books to be gifts to the citizens of Louisiana and Lanark to help support ecotourism and enlightened conservation.

Paul has several new books in progress, including one provisionally subtitled "Thirty Essays on Life, Wilderness and Rogue Primates."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is well written and a very important piece of literature to Louisiana public. It is the only comprehensive book on LA that I have found that takes in geology, flora, fauna and human impact. Every citizen of Louisiana should own a copy and refer to it often. It is only a beginning, however. Those with a background in ecology and conservation may be left craving more detailed histories, but for the average citizen it is perfect. More of its kind will hopefully appear in the coming years, mirroring such tomes as A Natural History of the Chicago Region.

Buy 4 copies. One for yourself and three for a friend, family member and colleague.
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This is a great book on the history of the emergence of the natural environment in Louisiana. It is important to understand how the land and the ecology developed to appreciate the challenges we current face. Buy the hard copy - this book translates terribly into the Kindle version.
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