Richard Beatty
Natural History and Ecology
Richard Beatty - writer and editor

This is the area on which I've been asked to write most frequently to date. It divides into the following sections:

  • Ecology and conservation
  • Zoology/animals
  • Botany/plants

Ecology and conservation

Wetlands Book
New Childrens Encyclopedia book Arctic & Antartic book Blue Planet

My original university studies included subjects such as soil science, population biology, estuarine biology, and limnology, providing background understanding that I've drawn upon ever since in my writing.

Particular projects in recent years include:

  • Writing the glossary for the BBC book The Blue Planet (2001), which was tied in to David Attenborough's television series of the same name.
  • Authoring two 15,000-word books, Wetlands and Rivers and Lakes, in the Biomes Atlases series, aimed at a school-age readership and originally published in 2002–3.
  • Writing the glossary for the Dorling Kindersley (DK) encyclopedia Ocean (2006).
  • Planning and briefing the environment and ecology section of DK's New Children's Encyclopedia (2009).
  • Revising the DK Eyewitness book Arctic & Antarctic for a new edition published in 2012.

I've also been commissioned by publishers several times to compile detailed plans for book proposals in the areas of conservation, climate change, and environmental history. In addition, I proofread academic books on ecology and conservation.

Zoology/animals

Animal Life Book
e.encyclopedia Prehistoric

The many articles I've written about animals have been mainly for children's or family level encyclopedias. My own enthusiasm for animals originated in childhood experiences, especially of the New Forest in England, the seashores of south-east Scotland, and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

I've never regarded writing about animals as a 'soft option'. Classifications change rapidly, while traditional generalizations extrapolated from a few members of a group often need to be modified to accommodate recent knowledge. Looking critically at source material and seeking out the most up-to-date information available are both essential prerequisites for the creation of accurate and informative articles.

Summary of writing to date, by topic:

Marine invertebrates. Many short articles on molluscs, crustaceans, annelids, etc.; also longer chapters on starfish and sea urchins.

Insects. Short articles on various insect groups; also longer chapters on moths and beetles.

Reptiles. Long chapters on individual lizard and turtle families for an encyclopedia of reptiles and amphibians. I also planned and wrote the reptile section of DK's e.encyclopedia: Animal (2005).

Birds. Edited and rewrote many entries for National Geographic's Bird Families of the World. Birds are also discussed in my Wetlands and River and Lakes books.

Mammals. Wrote one volume of a children's encyclopedia of mammals: the volumes were alphabetically organized, and my brief was to write on mammals from cheetahs to foxes – taking in dormice, dugongs, and elephants on the way!

Animal behaviour. My glossary written for DK's large encyclopedia Animal Life (2008) dealt mainly with animal behaviour terms.

Prehistoric animals. I covered these while writing the glossary for another major DK encyclopedia, Prehistoric (2009).

Botany/plants

Natural History
Botanics magazine

My largest botanical project to date has been researching and writing all the descriptions of monocot plants in Dorling Kindersley's blockbuster title The Natural History Book (2010).

Since 2009 I've also been writing for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and have enjoyed getting to know the multifarious activities of this world-class institution. Acting in a semi-journalistic role, I've interviewed staff on several occasions and written up articles on various subjects for their members' magazine The Botanics.

In addition, my two books on Wetlands and Rivers and Lakes both contain a chapter on plants, and I've separately written a long chapter on freshwater plants for an encyclopedia of aquatic life.

Insects and Spiders book