Where the ecologists are: a Field Talk podcast with Erle Ellis
Nov26

Where the ecologists are: a Field Talk podcast with Erle Ellis

The UM-Baltimore County ecologist talks about geographical context in field research and why he thinks the value of nature is more than the sum of it’s services. by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Listen to the podcast on the Field Talk page, or download it from iTunes. Ellis collaborated with Laura Martin and Bernd Blossey of Cornell University on the Frontiers article featured in this podcast . Stay tuned to Ecotone for a longer post with insights from lead author Martin, coming up later this week. Anthropogenic biomes (anthromes): a classification of land ecosystems based on prolonged and abiding communion with people, developed by Erle Ellis and Navin Ramankutty in their 2008 paper Putting people in the map: anthropogenic biomes of the world. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment  6:8, 439-447. Map from Figure 1 of the paper. Scale = 1:160 000 000, Plate Carrée projection (geographic), 5 arc minute resolution (5′ = 0.0833°).  [click image to enlarge] _________________ GEOGRAPHICAL bias in field research matters because we’re facing global change – “these are global phenomena, so we need global information,” said Erle Ellis, a professor of geography & environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, talking about the low resolution of ecological data from many parts of the world. A review of five years of ecological field studies, published earlier this year, showed a bias toward the protected, temperate, broad-leafed forests of wealthy countries, where most ecologists make their homes. Ellis talks about some of the surprising discoveries of the review, and the challenges of defining native species ranges in a time of global change. He shares concerns about framing conservation in terms of ecosystems services, and his own journey from plant physiology through agricultural field studies in rural China, to his current work in land use and global change. _________________ Mapping where ecologists work: biases in the global distribution of terrestrial ecological observations. Laura J Martin, Bernd Blossey, and Erle Ellis. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2012 10:4,...

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Do we love environmental horror stories too much?

Nature Conservancy chief scientist Peter Kareiva says conservation is failing, and must adapt or die. by Liza Lester, ESA Communications Officer, and Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs Anthropogenic biomes (anthromes): a classification of land ecosystems based on prolonged and abiding communion with people. Map scale = 1:160 000 000, Plate Carrée projection (geographic), 5 arc minute resolution (5′ = 0.0833°). From Figure 1 of EC Ellis and N Ramankutty (2008) Putting people in the map: anthropogenic biomes of the world. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment  6:8, 439-447. [click image to enlarge]   WRITING in the fall issue of Breakthrough Journal, Peter Kareiva, Robert Lalasz and Michelle Marvier attacked an environmentalist movement they described as self-righteous and puritanical, insisting “conservationists will have to jettison their idealized notions of nature, parks, and wilderness — ideas that have never been supported by good conservation science — and forge a more optimistic, human-friendly vision.” The essay largely retreads Kareiva’s talk for the National Academy of Sciences’ Distinctive Voices program, and it offers a few prescriptions for the future: deliberately integrate nature into urban and agricultural development: “development by design” stop “scolding capitalism” and work with corporations stop elevating biodiversity and choose a kind of environmental utilitarianism: “enhance those natural systems that benefit the widest number of people, especially the poor” give up the ideal of a pristine, pre-colonialist American landscape view nature as garden rather than a wilderness (which doesn’t exist) Last week, Greenwire profiled Kareiva with lengthy enthusiasm, and Andy Revkin summarized the argument over at his NY Times blog, Dot Earth, describing it as “a refreshing call for new approaches from a community stuck on what I’ve called a “woe is me, shame on you” tune for far too long.” Kareiva meant to rile people into debate, and he has succeeded: Breakthrough and Revkin have collected and published some of the responses from the conservation community (see links, below). Several are impassioned and irate. We at EcoTone are curious about how ecologists are responding to Kareiva’s challenge. ESA hosted a conference on “Emerging Issues in Ecology” at the end of February that raised many of the same concerns about a need for new strategies, and a new conservation paradigm — one that might be more open to ideas like assisted migration and urban ecology. It seems these ideas are in the air. Here are our initial, gut reactions. What’s yours?   Liza: Kareiva et al’s argument is stuffed with distracting hyperbole and I want to hurry past the temptation to nit pick through their long essay. For me, Kareiva’s talk is more persuasive than the essay, (which is...

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Biomes: Old-school?

A biome has traditionally been defined (broadly and loosely, of course) as an area that has similar plant and animal communities and geologic and climatic structures.  In recent years, the term ecosystem has come to be virtually interchangeable. But Erle Ellis of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County believes that doing ecology by defining biomes is antiquated.  In this video by The Discovery Channel, he proposes instead the use of “anthromes” that include definitions of areas that have, as he says, “already been transformed by human activity.” Instead of the traditional biome map with no representation of urban areas, Ellis thinks maps that show “mixed” systems that include natural and human influences are more appropriate.  Check out the video (and be patient through the ad) by clicking on the photo below, and see what you think....

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