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What is a Naturalist?

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What is a naturalist and naturalistic observation. Albert Einstein Quote.

What is a naturalist? A naturalist is a person who studies nature and natural history, including the study of plants and animals in their natural surroundings. A practical application for naturalists are Naturalistic Observation, also referred to as fieldwork or field notes. Just have a casual interest in being a naturalist? Learn more here about What is a wannabe naturalist? In other words, the process of collecting data. The Wannabe Naturalist™ magazine focuses on the relationship between nature lovers, environmental education and storytelling through nature and landscape photography.

Definition

There are several definitions for the term naturalist:

  • A person who studies nature through the direct observation of animals and plants.
  • A person who specializes in natural history, especially in the study of plants and animals in their natural surroundings.
  • One versed in natural history, especially in zoology or botany.
  • Someone doing research and therefore studies either natural history or a specific subject

There are also several synonyms for the term naturalist:

  • Scientist – the definition of a scientist is a person who is an expert in one of the natural or physical sciences.
  • Natural scientist – a scientist dedicated to natural science.
  • Biologist – the definition of a biologist is a person who studies the origin, history, characteristics, and habits of living organisms.
  • Botanist – one who specializes in plants.
  • Zoologist – a person who studies animals.
  • Finally, birdwatchers – a persons who observes birds in their natural surroundings

The Wannabe Naturalist ™ Magazine

At The Wannabe Naturalist ™ magazine we welcome everyone with a curious mind and a healthy interest in all natural things, i.e., a naturalist. Those of us without formal training that does not hold a PhD in environmental science, botany, or another scientific field, call ourselves wannabe naturalists. In addition, we offer a wide variety of products for sale, browse at our nature shop here. Show your commitment to the movement with The Wannabe Naturalist Official Sticker Pack.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

John Muir

How to become a naturalist?

There are several paths to follow to become a naturalist and practice naturalistic observation. If you are considering this a career, a higher learning experience is in your future. Universities and colleges around the world offer a plethora of study areas to prepare you for a career as a naturalist.

However, if your interest is more just a sideline or hobby, you have entered a world of wonder. Opportunities to learn a grow is everywhere around us. For instance, here are just a few priorities:

  • Learn the vocabulary
  • Learning how to look at nature
  • Learning how to read nature
  • Learning how to find nature (Sampling: using binoculars, yabby pump, plankton net, seines, sweep nets, etc.)
  • Learning how to identify nature
  • Learning why to identify nature
  • Enjoy learning nature
  • Learning how & why to conserve nature

For more in depth study, focus on the following:

  • Characters that define taxa/groups
  • Adaptive strategies–why things happen the way they do
  • Plant succession
  • Resource partitioning
  • Plant/animal intelligence/awareness
  • Plant/animal communication
  • Habitats – how are they characterized?
  • Indicator, keystone, flagship species and apex predators
  • Native vs. non-native species and why it is important important
  • Phenology, periodicity, and cycles
  • Ecological equivalents
  • Meanings and uses of words in natural history
  • Effect of latitude and elevation on activity i.e. temperature, humidity, etc.
  • Finally, connecting the dots – Interconnectedness

The Book of Naturalists: An Anthology of the Best Natural History

The Book of Naturalists: An Anthology of the Best Natural History
William Beebe (Editor)

Anyone curious about animals, nature, or the history of biology will find much of interest in this ample and varied collection. Reflecting his infectious enthusiasm for the best natural history, Beebe’s personal assortment of favorites includes excerpts from massive sources, such as Audubon and Darwin, and intriguing pieces from lesser known authors most of us would not normally encounter. Arranged in chronological order, the small masterpieces here range from Aristotle to Rachel Carson. Each of them is introduced by an incisive and sometimes humorous description of its author.

William Beebe (Editor)

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There are several paths to follow to become a naturalist and practice naturalistic observation. If you are considering this a career, a higher learning experience is in your future. Universities and colleges around the world offer a plethora of study areas to prepare you for a career as a naturalist.

However, if your interest is more just a sideline or hobby, you have entered a world of wonder. Opportunities to learn a grow is everywhere around us. For instance, here are just a few priorities:

  • Learn the vocabulary
  • Learning how to look at nature
  • Learning how to read nature
  • Learning how to find nature (Sampling: using binoculars, yabby pump, plankton net, seines, sweep nets, etc.)
  • Learning how to identify nature
  • Learning why to identify nature
  • Enjoy learning nature
  • Learning how & why to conserve nature

For more in depth study, focus on the following:

  • Characters that define taxa/groups
  • Adaptive strategies–why things happen the way they do
  • Plant succession
  • Resource partitioning
  • Plant/animal intelligence/awareness
  • Plant/animal communication
  • Habitats – how are they characterized?
  • Indicator, keystone, flagship species and apex predators
  • Native vs. non-native species and why it is important important
  • Phenology, periodicity, and cycles
  • Ecological equivalents
  • Meanings and uses of words in natural history
  • Effect of latitude and elevation on activity i.e. temperature, humidity, etc.
  • Finally, connecting the dots – Interconnectedness

What is a Naturalistic Observation?

Naturalistic observation, also referred to as fieldwork or field notes, is a scientific research methodology in various fields of natural science studies. Data are collected and recorded as they occur in nature, without any manipulation by the observer. Observations are more credible because the behavior occurs in a real, typical scenario as opposed to an artificial one generated within a lab. Record what you see. Interpret the data later.

For instance, an example that we are all familiar with is the naturalist Jane Goodall. As the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 60-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees since she first went to Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania in 1960, where she witnessed human-like behaviors amongst chimpanzees.

Do you need to learn all the scientific names?

Sometimes it is necessary to learn scientific names. Here at The Wannabe Naturalist ™ magazine we don’t want learning scientific names to become a hindrance to you wanting to be a naturalist. It’s not just being pretentious. Naturalists don’t just use scientific names just to impress their friends, so

  • Firstly, understand why we use them
  • Note that they often use Greek or Latin and are very descriptive
  • Then note how they help you learn “groupings”
  • Then, say them out loud, so you own them

Having said that, feel comfortable using common names.

HmmmIs this an eggplant or a Solanum melongena?
Knowing the scientific name is a requirement if you’re a PhD, Scientist, Botanist or Environmental Researcher.

If you’re a gardening volunteer at your churches’ vegetable patch… it’s just pretentious!

Known by many names: eggplant (US, Canada, Australia), aubergine (UK, Ireland) or brinjal (Indian subcontinent, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa) is a plant species in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Solanum melongena is grown worldwide for its edible fruit.

Eggplant, also known as brinjal, aubergine, or guinea squash or Solanum melongena
Eggplant, also known as brinjal, aubergine, or guinea squash

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belong to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

Aldo Leopold

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