National Geographic dispatched photographer David Liittschwager to answer the question: How much life could you find in one cubic foot?
Carrying a 12-inch metal frame to capture his wriggling subjects, Liittschwager explored four of the most biologically rich places in the world to photograph the rich diversity of life he found there.
The four sites he visited included a coral reef in French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean, Table Mountain in South Africa, a cloud forest in Costa Rica and, lastly, the Duck River in Tennessee. The resulting article, titled “Within One Cubic Foot” and featuring an essay from renowned naturalist Edward O. Wilson, appears in the Feb. 2010 issue of National Geographic, available on newsstands nationwide Jan. 26. (The online version of National Geographic also features New York's Central Park by way of comparison.)
Why the Duck River in Tennessee? As National Geographic explains in the article, “It’s one of the most biodiverse waterways in the U.S.” While visiting the river, Liittschwager photographed 32 fish species, 7 mussel varieties as well as various insects, snails, crayfish and turtles.
This comes as no surprise to Leslie Colley, manager of The Nature Conservancy’s Duck River Program. “The Duck River is absolutely a biological treasure trove,” she says. “It has more freshwater mussel species than any river in the Southeast and more than 150 fish species. It’s a vibrant, special place that we are fortunate to have in Tennessee.”
She and other members of The Nature Conservancy staff have been working cooperatively with local communities on the Duck River for more than a decade now to maintain the river’s remarkable biological richness and water quality. “The Duck River is a healthy river,” says Colley, “and with the help of our supporters, we aim to keep it that way.”
Located just 45 minutes south of Nashville, the Duck River not only provides habitat for hundreds of aquatic creatures, but also recreational opportunities and drinking water for more than 250,000 Tennesseans who live along its 270-mile course.
For more information about the Duck River and The Nature Conservancy’s work there, visit nature.org/tennessee.
Media: For interviews with National Geographic spokespeople and magazine photos, please contact Beth Foster, 202-857-7543, email@example.com. For interviews with Nature Conservancy staff, please contact Paul Kingsbury, 615-383-9909, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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