Thursday, 20 March 2014

Design in Nature

Design in Nature by James Ritchie (1937)
"It is a strange thing that if the onlooker wishes to understand the ways of living things he must look beyond the living creature itself to the environment in which it lives. For life is sensitive, and the forces of nature have played upon living things for so long a time - millions and millions of years - that they have impressed patterns upon the lives of plants and animals.

But the patterns are not visible at first glance; and one of the objects of this book... is to explain in simple language the ways in which the living world has been moulded by some of the forces of inanimate nature - the all-prevailing influence of the sun, the succession of the seasons, the rhythm of day and night.

Study any example you like - here for variety we have taken as examples, life in a wasp's nest, the spring migration of birds, the significance of song, life in a pond, and so on, and the impression grows that an understanding of the lives of plants and animals can be gained only through an understanding of the designs which the rhythms of nature have imposed upon them. As well as these, some other relationships which contribute to the final pattern of nature are discussed here."

James Ritchie (1882–1958) was born at Port Elphinston, Aberdeenshire and educated at Robert Gordon's College and the University of Aberdeen before joining the staff of the Royal Scottish Museum in 1907 to become Keeper of the Department of Natural History in 1921. His interests were for the whole of the animal kingdom but especially birds. He had a major influence in legislation dealing with the protection of grey seals and wild birds. His book 'The Influence of Man on Animal Life in Scotland: A Study of Faunal Evolution' (1920) brought international recognition. The work encouraged the growth of the study of animal ecology and of its application in conservation. Ritchie influenced the establishment of the Nature Conservancy Council with its separate organisation in Scotland.