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What makes a person a "naturalist" rather than a "nature lover"?

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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 22:04   #1
Terry O'Nolley
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Question What makes a person a "naturalist" rather than a "nature lover"?

We have all been told a thousand times what a great naturalist Audubon was.

But what did he do? He went out, looked at birds, drew their pictures and made money selling his books.

At what point did he become a great naturalist?

What is it that seperates naturalists from lovers of nature?

Was it the number of miles travelled per year? Was it the number of birds he drew? If so, what is the magic number of miles or birds?

I am just curious if there is a commonly accepted definition.
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 23:36   #2
Katy Penland
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I always equate "naturalist" with some type of teaching or leading, whether on trips, in a classroom, day walks, etc. I.e., the imparting of knowledge via whatever mechanism (e.g., your example of Audubon's artwork). Don't feel that it has so much to do with quantity (or money exchanging hands) as it does a generalist knowledge of natural history with the focus on whatever taxon is involved. I've been billed as a "marine mammal/cetacean naturalist" on pelagic birding trips, and a "bird naturalist" on pelagic whale watching trips. Sometimes paid (via free room/board or ticket). A good knowledge of kelps, local geology and various fish helps, too.
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Old Wednesday 14th September 2005, 23:41   #3
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I have no idea if anyone else agrees with me, but this is what I think makes a naturalist a naturalist.

I would have put the distinction as naturalists are nature lovers who follow their passion through seeking a greater understanding of nature, its processes and components (although not necessarily publishing it, just deliberately seeking to increase their knowledge). Audubon didn't just draw pretty pictures, he added to the sum total of knowledge about the birds he encountered.

So rather than appreciation, it is appreciation plus a desire to find out more, and more, and.... (you get the idea)

A good book on the subject of being a naturalist is by Gerald and Lee Durrell, The Amateur Naturalist
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 02:35   #4
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I suppose "naturalist" approaches nature in a scientific way were as "nature lover" in a spiritualists manner.Both approach nature because of the beauty and aw it has.

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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 07:55   #5
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I have always viewed this as a passive-active distinction. The man on the moon can be a nature lover - it is a state of mind. A naturalist does something actively to second this passive state of mind.
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 13:55   #6
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Henry David Thoreau, for one, was a naturalist.

It's not about the crass economics of numbers of birds or plants or insects or miles driven. It's not about whether one approaches nature from a scientific or spiritual or philosophical point of view.

It's about the depth of one's relationship with nature.

-Adam
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 16:02   #7
Terry O'Nolley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackstart
Henry David Thoreau, for one, was a naturalist.

It's not about the crass economics of numbers of birds or plants or insects or miles driven. It's not about whether one approaches nature from a scientific or spiritual or philosophical point of view.

It's about the depth of one's relationship with nature.
I like this definition the best. Because today a person could see the same number of birds in a few months - and document them better (digiscoping) - if they had the vacation time and/or money.

But Audubon devoted most of his life to pursuing and documenting birds.
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Old Thursday 15th September 2005, 20:22   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackstart
Henry David Thoreau, for one, was a naturalist.

It's not about the crass economics of numbers of birds or plants or insects or miles driven. It's not about whether one approaches nature from a scientific or spiritual or philosophical point of view.

It's about the depth of one's relationship with nature.

-Adam
Where would you place Leopold?
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Old Friday 16th September 2005, 05:33   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curunir
Where would you place Leopold?
Leopold was obviously a naturalist.

-Adam
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Old Friday 16th September 2005, 11:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackstart
Henry David Thoreau, for one, was a naturalist.

It's not about the crass economics of numbers of birds or plants or insects or miles driven. It's not about whether one approaches nature from a scientific or spiritual or philosophical point of view.

It's about the depth of one's relationship with nature.

-Adam
I would agree with that. If you go out walking, and spot birds, mice, etc, then you are a nature lover. If you record numbers of birds, and try to learn more about migration behaviour etc, then you are a naturalist.

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