A Practical Guide to Nature Study

Author(s): C.J. Fitzwilliams-Heck

Edition: 3

Copyright: 2021


Details: Print Prod w/KHQ | 180 days |

A Practical Guide to Nature Study fills a gap in literature dedicated to nature-based education.  Whether you consider yourself a novice or seasoned naturalist, your nature study will benefit from this unique and holistic approach.  As a student of nature, you will build naturalist skills, become more ecologically aware, learn basic natural histories of common flora and fauna, and explore a regional field guide. Through the nature journal exercises presented, A Practical Guide to Nature Study will help you make connections necessary for interpreting your surrounding landscape. 

Layout of the Book 
Nature Appreciation Survey

PART I: Discovering Nature
Chapter 1 – Building Your Naturalist Skills

1.1 Nature Awareness 

Defining Nature 
What Is a Naturalist? 
Your Naturalist Intelligence 
Becoming a Naturalist 
Relating Nature to Your Life 
Where to Focus Your Attention 
Observing Animals in the Wild 
Wildlife Through the Seasons
Naturalizing Day and Night
Improving Your Observation Skills
Making Better Identifications

1.2 Naturalist Activities

Preparing for the Outdoors
The Simple Naturalist 
Taxonomy: Classifying What You Observe 
Going Deeper into Nature 
The Sit Spot
The Field Inventory

1.3 Reflecting on Chapter 1—Building Your Naturalist Skills

Chapter 2 – Nature as Your “Place”

2.1 Making Connections—An Ecology Primer 

Ecology Defined
An Ecological Perspective 
Ecological Knowledge 
Ecology’s Scale of Life 

2.2 Landscape Shapers—Glaciers, Climate, Winter, Fire, Humans


2.3 The Watershed—A Broad, Yet Local Perspective

What Is a Watershed? 
Scales of Place 
Making It Real 
Protecting and Improving Watershed Quality 

2.4 Scientific Thinking

Inquiry Process 
Nature Studies 

2.5 Reflecting on Chapter 2—Nature as Your “Place”

Chapter 3 – Parts of Nature: Terrestrial Habitats and Freshwater Systems

3.1 Regional Overview 
3.2 Classifying and Interpreting Habitats

Habitat Defined 
Classifying a Habitat 
A Habitat’s Wildlife 
Habitat Signs and Stimuli 

3.3 Terrestrial Ecosystems 

Community Characteristics 
Forestry Management Goals 

3.4 Basic Geology and Soil Types

Rock Types 
Soil Basics 

3.5 Freshwater Ecosystems 

Water Properties and Nature 
Lake Environments 
River Characteristics 
Wetland Wonders 

3.6 Reflecting on Chapter 3—Parts of Nature 

PART II: The Science of Nature Study 
Chapter 4 – Ecology Essentials 

4.1 Scales of Life: Populations and Communities

Population Dynamics 
Community Relationships

4.2 Evolution Basics 

Basic Genetics
Scientific Law and Scientific Theory
How Evolution Works
Evidence for Evolution

4.3 The Four Spheres of Earth and Energy Flow

The Four Systems Form an Ecosystem
Parts of the Biosphere

4.4 Biogeochemical Cycles

Carbon Cycle 
Nitrogen Cycle 
Water Cycle 

4.5 Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management 

Benefits of Biodiversity 
Levels of Species Loss 
What Causes Biodiversity Loss? 
Conservation Approaches 
Why Should Nature Be Managed? 

PART III: Natural Histories and Field Guides 
Chapter 5 – Fungus

5.1 Importance 
5.2 Defining Fungus 
5.3 Fungus-like Organisms 
5.4 Kingdom Fungi 
5.5 Spore Dispersal 

Wind Dispersal
Water Dispersal 
Animal Dispersal 
Bursting-cell Dispersal 
Rounding-off Dispersal 
Basidiospore Discharge 

5.6 Ecological Role of Fungus 


5.7 Mushroom Hunting 
5.8 Field Guide: Fungus 

How to Identify Fungus 
Fungus Species Accounts

Chapter 6 – Plants 

6.1 Plant Basics 
6.2 Plant Divisions 

Flowering Plants 

6.3 The Woody Structures 
6.4 What Happens to Leaves in the Fall? 
6.5 Ecological Importance of Trees 
6.6 Field Guide: Primitive Plants

Kingdom Protista—The Phytoplankton, Green Algae
Kingdom Plantae—Division Bryophyta, The “Mosses” 

6.7 Field Guide: Herbaceous Plants 

Ferns and Their Relatives 
Plant Families to Know
Identification Key 
Wildflower Species Accounts 

6.8 Field Guide: Identifying Trees 

Questions to Ask Yourself 23
Tree Identification Keys 
Which Tree Key Should I Use? 
Coniferous Tree Key 
Deciduous Tree Keys (Broadleaf Trees and Shrubs) 

6.9 Field Guide: Trees and Shrubs Species Accounts 

Conifers (Evergreen; Needleleaf ) 
Deciduous (Broadleaf) 

Chapter 7 – Invertebrate Animals

7.1 Animal-Like Organisms: Kingdom Protista 
7.2 Freshwater Invertebrates: Kingdom Animalia 
7.3 Arthropods 

Class Insecta 
Class Arachnida—Spiders, Ticks, and Mites 
Subphylum Crustacea—Zooplankton and Crayfish 
Class Diplopoda—Millipedes 
Class Chilopoda—Centipedes

7.4 Field Guide: Insects, Spiders, and Other Arthropods 

Arthropod Identification Key 
Arthropod Species Accounts 

Chapter 8 – Vertebrate Animals

8.1 Fish 

Fish Classes
Fish Management 
What Can I Do? 

Field Guide: Fish 

Fish Family Identification Key 
Fish Species Accounts 

8.2 Amphibians 

Amphibian Evolution 
Frogs and Toads—Order Anura 
Salamanders—Order Caudata 
Amphibian Anatomy and Physiology 
Amphibian Decline 
Why Should We Care? What Can We Do? 

Field Guide: Amphibian Species Accounts 


8.3 Reptiles 

Reptile Evolution 
Types of Reptiles 
Reptilian Skin and Skeletal Features 
Reptile Physiology 
Growth and Longevity 
Reptile Threats 
What Is Being Done?

Field Guide: Reptile Species Accounts 


8.4 Birds 

Bird Evolution 
Bird Behavior 
Bird Conservation and Management 
What Can We Do to Help the Birds? 
Making Connections 

Field Guide: Birds 

Determine the Bird Size 
What is the Bird’s Shape? 
Field Marks 
Patterns in Flight 
Foraging Style 
Common Birds to Know 
Bird Species Accounts 
Bird Identification Key 

8.5 Mammals 

Mammal Evolution 
Groups of Mammals 
Skin Glands 
Hair Structures and Functions 
Mammal Physiology 
Skeletal System 
What Can You Do? 

Field Guide: Mammals 

Signs of Mammals 
Mammal Species Accounts 
Mammal Identification Key 

8.6 Chordate Characteristics Comparison Chart 

Conclusion: Wrapping the Bundle



For the Nature Study Instructor

C.J. Fitzwilliams-Heck

For over 20 years, Dr. Fitzwilliams-Heck has inspired many people to find connections in nature.  As an interpretive naturalist, environmental educator, and biology faculty member at Ferris State University, she has helped her students and an extensive outreach community to build their awareness and understanding of the natural world through experiential, place-based approaches to teaching and learning.  With an emphasis on social-ecological concepts, she aims to increase nature appreciation and desire to support and contribute to efforts for protecting our natural resources. 

Related ISBN's: 9781792466007, 9781792478284

Print Package



ISBN 9781792466007

Details Print Prod w/KHQ 180 days