We naturalists may have our individual areas of expertise but our primary interest is in the diversity of life, the interdependence of plants and animals and the relationship of life forms to their physical environment. And while we enjoy visiting National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, we know that there is a lifetime of nature study within our own communities.
This interest in natural ecosystems spawns a commitment to conservation, primarily through the protection of native habitat; beyond the establishment of nature preserves, we know that unbridled development, environmental pollution and excessive consumption are the primary threats to these ecosystems and that damage to one will, in time, affect all others.
But the overriding tenet of naturalist philosophy is that man is an integral part of nature, not a chosen species, created to oversee, manipulate and plunder our wild neighbors and home planet. This delusion arises from our superior brain power, the one and only trait in which we excel; indeed, our physical capabilities pale in comparison with other creatures. In the overall scheme of nature, we are far more expendable than fungi, photosynthetic plants and pollinating insects; it is this realization that humbles the naturalist and makes us understand that the welfare of humankind is directly tied to the health of our natural environment.