Discovering Natural Processes: beauty in nature's ways


Jeff Amos Photography
Gray Merriam Essays and captions

December 2005
11 X 10 inches, 176 pages
185 B&W and 9 colour plates
Cloth bound
ISBN 1894131746


Where to get a copy

From one of the essays:
“If a patch of marsh, with a surplus of production over its own needs, is next to a forest with no surplus of production, there will be a flow of food resources into the forest from the highly available food in the marsh. Animals, such as deer, will feed in the productive patch and carry that food into the less productive one. Such resource differences among habitat patches cause flows of resources across the mosaic of patches. Such fundamental linkages across mosaics of different habitat patches force us to think at the size scale of large landscapes when we consider what we mean by the ‘ecological system.’”

This work takes readers on a journey into important processes that control much of what happens in nature and do all the work that gives environmental systems the potential to be self-maintaining — true sustainability.

Nature is beautiful not only because of the aesthetics of natural structures, landscapes, and living beings but also because of the exquisite functionality of natural processes. Decomposition may initially seem less than beautiful, but seen in its role of vital resupply that keeps the whole system functioning, decomposition and nutrient recycling take on a new beauty.

Discovering Natural Processes illustrates such beauty through elegant photographic imagery that depicts natural processes and their products. Although the photographs and captions can stand alone, apart from the text, readers are encouraged to ask and answer questions about natural processes by interpreting the images. For this book, readers need only their personal experience, in whatever field. A brief introduction to each section provides non-technical support for unfamiliar topics.

Below are some more examples from the book:

Plants have many parts that lack green magic. Tree trunks contain important plumbing and carry out vital processes, but, lacking green magic, they have to get all their food from the green magic in the leaves. As trees grow older, the proportion of their tissue that `freeloads’ increases. Add to this a growing horde of `freeloading’ herbivores, and the green magic of a forest can become unable to support it all. Natural bankruptcy. Pink slips!

We may regret the death of an animal because of the marvellous stimuli it gave us when alive, but the role of those vital behaviours are replaced by other values after death. Besides the vital stimulating characteristics that we associate with a deer or a trillium, they also have characteristics as biomass.  Possibly the longest term criterion of success for a population of plants or animals is their accumulation of biomass, concentrated from nutrients and processes dispersed widely throughout the landscape, and organized and grown, according to their particular genetic instructions, into their biomass. But it is just moving through. If the genes and the processes remain — it will continue.

The atmosphere of lakes. Science fails. Economics pales. Politics is nowhere near. But it is real, it has high value, and it can be known.