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Islands as arks: Nature protection and the preservation ethic, 1898-1918

Christensen, J. (2011) Islands as arks: Nature protection and the preservation ethic, 1898-1918. Studies in Western Australian History (27). pp. 13-30.

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`Island worlds have long been a wellspring of inspiration to the scientific imagination. Consider the example of Bernier Island in Western Australia's Shark Bay. Twice visited by the Baudin Expedition of 1800-04, the island's environment so excited the young savant Francois Peron that he interpreted his geological and zoological collections in light of the catastrophist and transmutationist theories fashionable in the Parisian scientific circles he inhabited. Later in the nineteenth century, the English naturalists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace found their own inspiration in insular floras and faunas. At the Galapagos Islands and St Helena, and across the Malay Archipelago, Darwin and Wallace respectively gathered acute evidence to support the theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' then precipitated the Darwinian revolution, 'perhaps the most fundamental of all intellectual revolutions in the history of mankind', transforming for all time ideas about the place of humans in nature and the role of deities in the creation and workings of the Earth.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: University of Western Australia. Centre for Western Australian History
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