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Declining Natural Science Can Become Trouble for Society

According to University of Washington Professor and WWF International scientist Joshua Tewksbury, support for natural history, both private and government, is lacking. Natural history, which studies the habitat, behaviour and ecosystem of organisms, appears to be in steep decline in many developed countries, according to Tewksbury.

He, along with 16 other North American scientists have outlined the importance of history to society and are campaigning for a return of the practice in the scientific community journal BioScience.

Natural history collects and observes organisms rather than experimentation and procedures. It focuses on understanding animal and organism behaviour and their effects in the environment. This discipline spans across different species, including microorganisms.

Tewksbury and the other scientists have pointed out that some disasters, such as the Bering Sea walleye Pollock fishery collapse, could have been avoided with extensive research and use of natural history. Infectious diseases are also linked in some life cycles of certain animals as most of the diseases in human history came from animal meat or simple interaction.

According to Kirsten Rowell, UW’s acting assistant professor, collections of observed specimens are being abandoned. She also said she was disappointed that people saw natural history projects are insignificant to scientific progress as a whole.

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