Discoveries in Natural History & Exploration
Purpose and Endorsement
The University of California engaged Dr. E. Fred Legner as Foreign Explorer in the Department of Biological Control, to search worldwide for beneficial organisms to combat invaded pests of medical and agricultural importance. In order to locate the place of origin of a particular pest species and its natural enemies he was required to consider many aspects of their history such as how did they arrive and how long had they been in the invaded territory. This naturally led to investigations of human migrations to the Americas, which ultimately led to a consideration of Pre-Columbian visitors from Europe and Asia. Numerous inscriptions on petroglyphs that occur all over North America provided leads to where the migrants came from, and provided clews to what pests they might have carried with them (VITA: E. F. Legner).
This site is an international, intergovernmental, not-for-profit database coordinated by researchers at the University of California and associated agencies worldwide. Its mission is to facilitate the dissemination, application and generation of scientific knowledge in support of sustainable solutions to problems in agriculture, forestry, human health and the management of natural resources, and with particular attention to the needs of developing countries. Contentious published material is included for discussion and evaluation, and is not part of formal curricula at the University of California. This is a self-contained database with a minimum of links outside its limits. Independent Internet searches are encouraged for greater detail on a particular subject.
“Discoveries in Natural History & Exploration” includes a Biological Pest Management database that incorporates lecture notes and a Biological Pest Management text developed over many years as teaching materials for courses at the University of California. The database, which is for educational purposes only, is a 'one-stop shop' for the student of Biological Pest Management, and especially Classical Biological Pest Management that involves the deployment of a pest's natural enemies. This database has a long and distinguished history. It began as a course taught by the founder of the Department of Biological Control, Harry Scott Smith. Later Dr. Paul DeBach, Dr. Charles Fleschner and Dr. Ernest Bay developed the course further, with Dr. E. F. Legner teaching the final version for advanced students, which is what comprises most of the Database on this Internet site now. Now retired from the University of California Professor Legner is devoting time to developing an unparalleled Internet resource.
Exhaustive coverage of the theory and practice of Biological Control: sections covering this subject on a group-by-group basis, and also on a regional basis back everything from ecological theory to implementation and evaluation methods. The extensive coverage afforded by the database allows inclusion of topics often given scant space elsewhere and for which summarized information can be hard to find. There is, for example, an in-depth review in the section, Economic Gains from Biological Pest Management of not only its measurable monetary costs and benefits but also less-easily quantifiable economic gains from increased food security and reduced pesticide use. Professor Legner has considerably enlarged the database, too, to include peripheral aspects of Biological Pest Management, such as Entomology, Insect Morphology and Taxonomy and Integrated Pest Management, Insect Pollination, Economic Botany, Mycology, Invertebrate Zoology and Pre-Columbian Explorations, etc. Other links developed naturally from the numerous travels that he made to secure natural enemies of arthropods and weeds from many lands.
There is a disheartening endnote, though. The University of California, Riverside used to have a statewide Department of Biological Control of international renown. In 1962 there were over 40 full-time faculty and staff devoted to the deployment of natural Biological Pest Management. Most efforts involved the importation of natural enemies to combat alien pest insects, weeds and mites. There cannot be many readers of this journal who have not benefited either directly or indirectly from the work and research of this group of researchers, yet today only remnants remain.
An enduring legacy of the people who worked there, though, is this authoritative and comprehensive database. There are no restrictions on the use and dissemination of information, as long as it is for non-profit educational purposes. Dr. Legner is still developing the site, and is still in the process of obtaining continuous feedback from colleagues; parts of it are changing daily. Text and illustrations are available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License
It is impossible to give more than a flavour of what the site contains here, so readers are encouraged to take a look for themselves.
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Sincerest gratitude to Rebecca Murphy
CABI Bioscience UK Centre (Ascot), Silwood Park, Buckhurst Road, Ascot,
Berkshire SL5 7TA, UK
Phone: +44 1491 829121 / +44 1344 872999
Fax: +44 1491 829123