Think about where you live and where you have traveled—most of us have visited or lived in more ecosystems than we think we have. While working on EcoMazes:12 Earth Adventures, and now, reflecting afterward, I realize that, although I do not consider myself a naturalist at all (and I live right in the middle of a huge city, with one house plant and a view out of my 10th floor window of a few ginko trees along the avenue), I have visited almost all of the ecosystems covered in the book.
Of course, ecosystem is a broad term—walk along a crowded street in the bustling city or wander alone in a forest filled with birds and other critters, and you are in a community of living things in a specific physical environment—an ecosystem of one sort or another. It can be as big as the earth (the biosphere) or as small as a pond, with particular species of frogs, fish, ducks, plants…
Researching EcoMazes was great fun. In the two years I worked on it, I tramped through rainforests in the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific, saw polar bears on ice floes and lichen on the tundra on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago high above the Arctic Circle, glimpsed reef sharks in Tahiti, and picked wild mushrooms in a southern Sweden conifer forest.
I have visited deserts in the United States, Mexico, and Tunisia. Climbed Mount Whitney (an alpine area) in the Sierra Nevadas, a volcano in Stromboli (Italy), and a smallish Swiss mountain; canoed along a bayou in the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta and the Everglades, and splashed in the waves off the Outer Banks. Lived in Hawaii and snorkeled in the coral reefs. Visited vast grasslands and prairies on huge Texas ranches. I grew up in the wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay, one of the great estuaries of the world, and camped out in Maine and West Virginia in temperate deciduous forests.
When I started EcoMazes, most of these earlier trips I did not remember, or even realize were relevant. But, in doing research and learning more about biomes, habitats, and ecosystems, it was exciting to realize how many I, and I’ll bet you too, have experienced. It is so important for all of us care about, to preserve, and to conserve our wonderous earth—our only home—and everything it contains.
Roxie Munro is the author-illustrator of more than 40 nonfiction books for children, including the KIWi Storybooks nonfiction series and the Inside-Outside Books, for which her New York City title received the New York Times Best Illustrated Award. App-users also enjoy her Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure and Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure, among others. Learn more about her exciting work at www.roxiemunro.com.