Patterns in Nature



Most People have learned to see, on an atlas or in reality (often now from an aeroplane), the shape and pattern of the great geographical zones of a continent, the climatic belts of the world or the zones along the sea-coast; and they will be familiar also with the appearance of a small-scale map (or again, the country itself from the air), with its repetition of certain component features like rivers, ponds, woods, fields, roads and the settlements of man (Plates I and 5). We carry this consciousness of repeated patterns down to still smaller parts of the landscape, whether natural or influenced by human control and management — for example zones by the roadside of road surface, grass verge, ditch, hedgerow and field; the same species of plant (oak or ash or pure or potato) making a vegetation pattern of individuals, or similarly the same species of animal or groups of animals (cattle, the earth castings of moles, rookeries, anthills and so on). All this consciousness of pattern, much of it quite familiar pattern, so pervades our minds that it may often seem a commonplace phenomenon — ‘quite simple’, as the ordinary empirical Englishman is fond of saying, because he does not wish to have to consider burdensome complications or causes. So one might speak of being alive or growing old or autumn colours or the periodic return of the sun or moon.


Animal Community Repeated Pattern Animal Life Climatic Belt Penguin Rookery 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Charles S. Elton 1966

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