Research in ecology and evolutionary biology (evo-eco) often tries to emulate the “hard” sciences such as physics and chemistry, but to many of its practitioners feels more like the “soft” sciences of psychology and sociology. I argue that this schizophrenic attitude is the result of lack of appreciation of the full consequences of the peculiarity of the evo-eco sciences as lying in between a-historical disciplines such as physics and completely historical ones as like paleontology. Furthermore, evo-eco researchers have gotten (...) stuck on mathematically appealing but philosophi- cally simplistic concepts such as null hypotheses and p-values defined according to the frequentist approach in statistics, with the consequence of having been unable to fully embrace the complexity and subtlety of the problems with which ecologists and evolutionary biologists deal with. I review and discuss some literature in ecology, philosophy of science and psychology to show that a more critical methodological attitude can be liberating for the evo-eco scientist and can lead to a more fecund and enjoyable practice of ecology and evolutionary biology. With this aim, I briefly cover concepts such as the method of multiple hypotheses, Bayesian analysis, and strong inference. (shrink)
Presents a provocatively anthropocentric analysis of the way forward for green politics and environmental movements, exposing the deficiencies and contradictions of green approaches to post-modern politics and deep ecology. This title available in eBook format. Click here for more information . Visit our eBookstore at: www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk.
Considers that in ecosystem, landscape and global ecology, an energetics reading of ecological systems is an expression of a cybernetic, systemic and holistic approach. In ecosystem ecology, the Odumian paradigm emphasizes the concept of emergence, but it has not been accompanied by the creation of a method that fully respects the complexity of the objects studied. In landscape ecology, although the emergentist, multi-level, triadic methodology of J.K. Feibleman and D.T. Campbell has gained acceptance, the importance of emergent (...) properties is still undervalued. In global ecology, the Gaia hypothesis is an expression of an organicist metaphor, while the emergentist terminology used is incongruent with the underlying physicalist cybernetics. More generally, an analytico-additional methodology and the reduction of the properties of ecosystems to the laws of physical chemistry render purely formal any assertion about the emergentist and holistic nature of the ecological systems studied. (shrink)
I claim that the balance of nature metaphoris shorthand for a paradigmatic view of natureas a beneficent force. I trace the historicalorigins of this concept and demonstrate that itoperates today in the discipline of populationecology. Although it might be suspected thatthis metaphor is a pre-theoretic description ofthe more precisely defined notion ofequilibrium, I demonstrate that balance ofnature has constricted the meaning ofmathematical equilibrium in population ecology.As well as influencing the meaning ofequilibrium, the metaphor has also loaded themathematical term with (...) values.Environmentalists and critics use thisconflation of meaning and value to theiradvantage. This interplay between the balanceof nature and equilibrium fits aninteractionist interpretation of the role ofmetaphor in science. However, it seems theinteraction is asymmetric, and the balance ofnature metaphor has had a larger influence onmathematical equilibrium than vice versa. Thisdisproportionate influence suggests that themetaphor was and continues to be a constitutivepart of ecological theories. (shrink)
Ecologists attempt to understand the diversity of life with mathematical models. Often, mathematical models contain simplifying idealizations designed to cope with the blooming, buzzing confusion of the natural world. This strategy frequently issues in models whose predictions are inaccurate. Critics of theoretical ecology argue that only predictively accurate models are successful and contribute to the applied work of conservation biologists. Hence, they think that much of the mathematical work of ecologists is poor science. Against this view, I argue that (...) model building is successful even when models are predictively inaccurate for at least three reasons: models allow scientists to explore the possible behaviors of ecological systems; models give scientists simplified means by which they can investigate more complex systems by determining how the more complex system deviates from the simpler model; and models give scientists conceptual frameworks through which they can conduct experiments and fieldwork. Critics often mistake the purposes of model building, and once we recognize this, we can see their complaints are unjustified. Even though models in ecology are not always accurate in their assumptions and predictions, they still contribute to successful science. (shrink)
Cognitive ecology is the study of cognitive phenomena in context. In particular, it points to the web of mutual dependence among the elements of a cognitive ecosystem. At least three fields were taking a deeply ecological approach to cognition 30 years ago: Gibson’s ecological psychology, Bateson’s ecology of mind, and Soviet cultural-historical activity theory. The ideas developed in those projects have now found a place in modern views of embodied, situated, distributed cognition. As cognitive theory continues to shift (...) from units of analysis defined by inherent properties of the elements to units defined in terms of dynamic patterns of correlation across elements, the study of cognitive ecosystems will become an increasingly important part of cognitive science. (shrink)
This book is the first examination in almost a decade of issues in the philosophy of ecology that have been a source of controversy since the existence of ecology as an explicit scientific discipline. The controversies revolve around the idea of a balance of nature, the possibility of general ecological knowledge and the role of model-building in ecology. The Science of the Struggle for Existence is also the first sustained treatment of these issues that incorporates both a (...) comprehensive investigation of the relevant ecological literature and the development of an explicit theoretical framework in the philosophy of science. It addresses issues in the philosophy of ecology that are of particular importance for the deployment of ecology in the solution of environmental problems. It will have a cross-disciplinary appeal and will interest students and professionals in science, the philosophy of science, environmental studies as well as policy-makers. (shrink)
There is a long history of controversy in ecology over the role of competition in determining patterns of distribution and abundance, and over the significance of the mathematical modeling of competitive interactions. This paper examines the controversy. Three kinds of considerations have been involved at one time or another during the history of this debate. There has been dispute about the kinds of regularities ecologists can expect to find, about the significance of evolutionary considerations for ecological inquiry, and about (...) the empirical credentials of theoretical studies of competition. Each of these elements is examined with an eye toward gaining philosophical clarification of the issues involved. In the process, certain shortcomings of contemporary philosophical theories are revealed. In particular, I argue that plausibility arguments based on background considerations are an important part of the model building tradition, but that current accounts of the structure and evaluation of scientific theories do little to illuminate this side of theoretical ecology. (shrink)
The Struggle for Nature outlines and examines the main aspects of current environmental philosophy including deep ecology, social and political ecology, eco-feminism and eco-anarchism. It criticizes the dependency on science of these philosophies and the social problems engendered by them. Jozef Keulartz argues for a post-naturalistic turn in environmental philosophy. The Struggle for Nature presents the most up-to-date arguments in environmental philosophy, which will be valuable reading for anyone interested in applied philosophy, environmental studies or geography.
The standard mathematical models in population ecology assume that a population's growth rate is a function of its environment. In this paper we investigate an alternative proposal according to which the rate of change of the growth rate is a function of the environment and of environmental change. We focus on the philosophical issues involved in such a fundamental shift in theoretical assumptions, as well as on the explanations the two theories offer for some (...) of the key data such as cyclic populations. We also discuss the relationship between this move in population ecology and a similar move from first-order to second-order differential equations championed by Galileo and Newton in celestial mechanics. (shrink)
Ecology has had a lower profile in Biology & Philosophy than one might expect on the basis of the attention ecology is given in public discussions in relation to environmental issues. Our tentative explanation is that ecology appears theoretically redundant within biology and, consequently, philosophically challenging problemsrelated to biology are commonly supposed to be somewhere else, particularly in the molecular sphere. Richard Levins has recognized the genuine challenges posed by ecology for theoretical and philosophical thinking in (...) biology. This essay sets the stage for appreciating his work; it was preceded by four articles published in Biology & Philosophy 15(2),and is followed by a personal reminiscent. (shrink)
The status of population genetics has become hotly debated among biologists and philosophers of biology. Many seem to view population genetics as relatively unchanged since the Modern Synthesis and have argued that subjects such as development were left out of the Synthesis. Some have called for an extended evolutionary synthesis or for recognizing the insignificance of population genetics. Yet others such as Michael Lynch have defended population genetics, declaring "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics" (...) (a twist on Dobzhansky's famous slogan that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution"). Missing from this discussion is the use of population genetics to shed light on ecology and vice versa, beginning in the 1940s and continuing until the present day. I highlight some of that history through an overview of traditions such as ecological genetics and population biology, followed by a slightly more in-depth look at a contemporary study of the endangered California Tiger Salamander. I argue that population genetics is a powerful and useful tool that continues to be used and modified, even if it isn't required for all evolutionary explanations or doesn't incorporate all the causal factors of evolution. (shrink)
If Panentheism’s core thesis, that God is in the world, is to animate a spiritual approach to life, then we have to account for the way in which God is in the destructive or thanative dimensions of life. From the perspective of evolutionary ecology the universe is imbued with creative and destructive energies. The creative drive can be termed eros as creation occurs through the expansion of relational unities, holons. The destructive drive is termed thanatos and is the drive (...) to sever connection. An argument is developed from the perspective of evolutionary ecology to show how thanatos serves eros, serves the evolutionary unfolding of higher orders of communion. I suggest there are healthy and pathological expressions of the thanative drive. God within the thanative invites us to embrace the transformative potentials of suffering by integrating thanatos-in-eros. God as eros invites us to develop expanded modes of connection, inter-subjectivity and communion. (shrink)
What is the optimal political framework for environmental reform reform on a scale commensurate with the global ecological crisis? In particular, how adequate are liberal forms of parliamentary democracy to the challenge posed by this crisis? These are the questions pondered by the contributors to this volume. Exploration of the possibilities of democracy gives rise to certain common themes. These are the relation between ecological morality and political structures or procedures and the question of the structure of decision-making and distribution (...) of information in political systems. The idea of 'democracy without traditional boundaries' is discussed as a key both to environmentalism in an age of global ecology and to the revitalisation of democracy itself in a world of increasingly protean constituencies and mutable boundaries. (shrink)
As conservation biology has developed as a distinct discipline from ecology, conservation guidelines based on ecological theory have been largely cast aside in favor of theory-independent decision procedures for designing conservation reserves. I argue that this transition has failed to advance the field toward its aim of preserving biodiversity. The abandonment of island biogeography theory in favor of complementarity-based algorithms is a case in point. In what follows, I consider the four central objections raised against island biogeographic conservation guidelines, (...) arguing that they fail to undermine the credibility of this framework as a conservation tool. At best, these objections call for a more careful application of this framework to conservation problems, not its wholesale abandonment. At the same time, complementarily-based algorithms are biased in favor of networks of small reserves containing non-overlapping species. These conditions threaten to promote inbreeding depression, genetic drift and other factors that increase a population’s risk of extinction. Therefore, recent developments in the field of conservation biology have arguably not contributed to its ultimate aim of preserving the maximum amount of biodiversity in the long run. (shrink)
Abstract - Evolutionary, ecological and ethical studies are, at the same time, specific scientific disciplines and, from an historical point of view, structurally linked domains of research. In a context of environmental crisis, the need is increasingly emerging for a connecting epistemological framework able to express a common or convergent tendency of thought and practice aimed at building, among other things, an environmental policy management respectful of the planet’s biodiversity and its evolutionary potential. -/- Evolutionary biology, ecology and ethics: (...) at first glance, three different objects of research, three different worldviews and three different scientific communities. In reality, there are both structural and historical links between these disciplines. First, some topics are obviously common across the board. Second, the emerging need for environmental policy management has gradually but radically changed the relationship between these disciplines. Over the last decades in particular, there has emerged a need for an interconnecting meta-paradigm that integrates more strictly evolutionary studies, biodiversity studies and the ethical frameworks that are most appropriate for allowing a lasting co-evolution between natural and social systems. Today such a need is more than a mere luxury, it is an epistemological and practical necessity. -/- In short, the authors of this volume address some of the foundational themes that interconnect evolutionary studies, ecology and ethics. Here they have chosen to analyze a topic using one of these specific disciplines as a kind of epistemological platform with specific links to topics from one or both of the remaining disciplines. Michael Ruse’s chapter, for instance, elucidates some of the structural links between Darwinismand ethics. Ruse analyzes the Evolutionism vs. Creationism debate, emphasizing the risks run by scientists when they ideologize the scientific content of their studies. In the case of the contributions of Jean Gayon and Jean-Marc Drouin, which respectively deal with the disciplines of evolutionary biology and ecology, some central connections have been developed between these two disciplines, while reserving the option to consider in detail their topic in order to discover essential features ormeanings. Gayon analyzes the multilayered meanings of “chance” in evolutionary studies and the methodological implications that accompany such disparatemeanings. Froma similar analytical perspective, Drouin’s contribution focuses on the identification and critical evaluation of the different conceptions of time in ecology. Chance and time, factors of evolution in species and ecological systems, play a very important function in both disciplines, and these chapters help to capture their polysemous structure and development. Bryan Norton’s chapter, on adaptive environmental management, is set within an epistemological context where the Darwinian paradigm, ecological knowledge and ethical frameworks meet to give rise to practical, conservationist policies. In his contribution, Patrick Blandin pleads for the necessity of an eco-evolutionary ethics capable of fully encompassing humanity’s responsibility in the future determination of the biosphere’s evolutionary paths. Our value systems must recognize the predominant place that humanity has taken in the evolutionary history of the planet, and integrate the ethical ramifications of scientific advances in evolutionary and ecological studies. The chapter by J. Baird Callicott introduces us to a metaphorical ecological reversion with direct consequences for our moral conduct. If ecology showed that ecosystems are not organisms, recognizing organisms as a kind of ecosystem could be the basis for a new post-modern ecological ethics that lays the foundation for a better moral integration of humans with the environment. The contributions of Robin Attfield and Tom Regan delve into some of the classical issues in environmental ethics, situating them within a broader ecological and evolutionary context. Attfield’s chapter tackles the confrontation between individualistic and ecologically holistic perspectives, their different approaches to the issue of intrinsic value, and their tangled relation to monism and pluralism. Regan’s contribution ponders the criteria that allow individual beings, human and non-human, to own moral rights, the role of the struggle for existence in the relationship between species, and the logical difficulties involved in attributing intrinsic value to collective entities (species, ecosystems). Catherine Larrère’s chapter discusses the opposition between two environmental and ethical worldviews with very different philosophical centers of gravity: nature and technology. These opposing perspectives have direct consequences not only for the perception of the problems at hand and for what entities are deemed morally significant, but also for the proposed solutions. -/- To set out some foundational events in the history of evolutionary biology, ecology and environmental ethics is a first necessary step towards a clarification of their major epistemological orientations. On the basis of this inevitably nonexhaustive history, it will be possible to better position the work of the different contributors, and to build a meta-paradigm, i.e. a connecting epistemological framework resulting from one common or convergent tendency of thought and practice shared by different disciplines. (shrink)
When data are limited, simple models of complex ecological systems tend to wind up closer to the truth than more complex models of the same systems. This greater proximity to the truth, or verisimilitude, leads to greater predictive success. When more data are available, the advantage of simplicity decreases, and more complex models may gain the upper hand. In ecology, holistic models are usually simpler than reductionistic models. Thus, when data are limited, holistic models have an advantage over reductionistic (...) models, with respect to verisimilitude and predictive success. I illustrate these points with models designed to explain and predict the numbers of species on islands. (shrink)
Scientific misconduct obstructs the advance of knowledge in science. Its impact in some disciplines is still poorly known, as is the frequency in which it is detected. Here, I examine how frequently editors of ecology and evolution journals detect scientist misconduct. On average, editors managed 0.114 allegations of misconduct per year. Editors considered 6 of 14 allegations (42.9%) to be true, but only in 2 cases were the authors declared guilty, the remaining being dropped for lack of proof. The (...) annual rate of allegations that were probably warranted was 0.053, although the rate of demonstrated misconduct was 0.018, while the rate of false or erroneous allegations was 0.024. Considering that several cases of misconduct are probably not reported, these findings suggest that editors detect less than one-third of all fraudulent papers. (shrink)
The distinction between the context ofdiscovery and the context of justificationrestricts philosophy of science to the rationalreconstruction of theories, and characterizesscientific discovery as rare, theoreticalupheavals that defy rational reconstruction. Kuhnian challenges to the two contextsdistinction show that non-rational elementspersist in the justification of theories, butgo no further to provide a positive account ofdiscovery. A gradualist theory of discoverydeveloped in this paper shows, with supportfrom ecological cases, that discoveries areroutinely made in ecology by extending modelsto new domains, or by making (...) additions toearlier models. The logic of discovery isphilosophically accessible once it isappreciated that model truth is presumed, evenif counterfactually, in ecologists' applicationof models. A gradualist view shows thatmodels' heuristic power routinely leads todiscoveries. (shrink)
In this volume, the authors discuss what practical contributions ecology can and can't make in applied science and environmental problem solving. In the first section, they discuss conceptual problems that have often prevented the formulation and evaluation of powerful, precise, general theories, explain why island biogeography is still beset with controversy and examine the ways that science is value laden. In the second section, they describe how ecology can give us specific answers to practical environmental questions posed in (...) individual case studies, and argue for a new way to look at scientific error. A case study using the Florida panther is examined in the light of these findings. (shrink)
Here I explore the aesthetic implications of this new paradigm, the central implication being that scientific cognitivism, when combined with the new paradigm in ecology, may require updating the qualities associated with positive aesthetics. After reviewing Allen Carlson's defense of both scientific cognitivism and the positive aesthetics thesis, I show how the significantly different conceptual framework that the new paradigm in ecology provides will require equally significant adjustments to how we aesthetically appreciate nature. I make two suggestions. First, (...) the new paradigm in ecology suggests that aesthetic appreciation should focus on natural processes, which will require a more theoretical approach to aesthetic appreciation. Second, because the new paradigm appeals to aesthetic qualities such as imbalance, disorder, and disharmony to make the natural world intelligible, these qualities are consistent with an updated positive aesthetics thesis and should therefore replace the qualities associated with the old paradigm. Collectively, these two suggestions imply that the beauty of nature is dynamic and chaotic rather than stable and orderly. (shrink)
Ecology has often been characterized as an immature scientific discipline. This paper explores some of the sources of this alleged immaturity. I argue that the perception of immaturity results primarily from the fact that historically ecologists have based their work upon two very different approaches to research.
This collection is drawn from a recent Global Political conference held to mark the centenary of the birth of Harold Innis, Canada's most important political economist. Throughout his life, Innis was concerned with topics which remain central to political ecology today, such as the link between culture and nature, the impact of humanity on the environment and the role of technology and communications. In this volume, the contributors address environmental issues which Innes was concerened with, from a contemporary, political (...) economy perspective. They explore a wide range of themes and issues including: sustainability; risk and regulation; population growth; and planetary management. Case studies provide further insight into issues such as industrial racism, women and development and collective action. (shrink)
Since Krebs and Davies’s (1978) landmark publication, it is acknowledged that behavioural ecology owes much to the ethological tradition in the study of animal behaviour. Although this assumption seems to be right—many of the first behavioural ecologists were trained in departments where ethology developed and matured—it still to be properly assessed. In this paper, I undertake to identify the approaches used by ethologists that contributed to behavioural ecology’s constitution as a field of inquiry. It is my contention that (...) the current practices in behavioural biology owe ethology something much subtler than the simple transposition of Tinbergen’s Four Problems for heuristic purposes. Demonstrating what ethology inherited from the long naturalist tradition shows the tensions that strained the field and that later led to the loss of both its unity and its specificity. It also allows for a precise delineating of what behavioural ecology picked up from the ethological practice, and it helps to cast some light on the introduction of economical thinking in behavioural sciences. (shrink)
Many authors, including paleobiologists, cladists and so on, adopt a nested hierarchical viewpoint to examine the relationships among different levels of biological organization. Furthermore, species are often considered to be unique entities in functioning evolutionary processes and one of the individuals forming a nested hierarchy.I have attempted to show that such a hierarchical view is inadequate in evolutionary biology. We should define units depending on what we are trying to explain. Units that play an important role in evolution and (...) class='Hi'>ecology do not necessarily form a nested hierarchy. Also the relationships among genealogies at different levels are not simply nested. I have attempted to distinguish the different characteristics of passages when they are used for different purposes of explanation. In my analysis, species and monophyletic taxa cannot be uniquely defined as single units that function in ecological and evolutionary processes. (shrink)
Ecology and Revolution: Global Crisis and the Political Challenge is an in-depth exploration and analysis of the global ecological crisis (going far beyond the issue of global warming) in the larger context of historical conditions and ...
Ecology is being introduced to Evolutionary Developmental Biology to enhance organism-, population-, species-, and higher-taxon-level studies. This exciting, bourgeoning troika will revolutionise how investigators consider relationships among environment, ontogeny, and phylogeny. Features are studied (and even defined) differently in ecology, development, and evolution. Form is central to development and evolution but peripheral to ecology. Congruence (i.e., homology) is applied at different hierarchical levels in the three disciplines. Function is central to ecology but peripheral to development. Herein, (...) the supercategories form (‘isomorphic’ or ‘allomorphic’), congruence (‘homologous’ or ‘homoplastic’), and function (‘adaptive’ or ‘nonadaptive’) are combined with two developmental mode (i.e., growth) categories (‘conformational’ or ‘nonconformational’) to provide a 16-class system for analysing features in studies in which ecology, development, and evolution are integrated. (shrink)
Ambitiously identifying fresh issues in the study of complex systems, Peter J. Taylor, in a model of interdisciplinary exploration, makes these concerns accessible to scholars in the fields of ecology, environmental science, and science studies. Unruly Complexity explores concepts used to deal with complexity in three realms: ecology and socio-environmental change; the collective constitution of knowledge; and the interpretations of science as they influence subsequent research. For each realm Taylor shows that unruly complexity-situations that lack definite boundaries, (...) where what goes on "outside" continually restructures what is "inside," and where diverse processes come together to produce change-should not be suppressed by partitioning complexity into well-bounded systems that can be studied or managed from an outside vantage point. Using case studies from Australia, North America, and Africa, he encourages readers to be troubled by conventional boundaries-especially between science and the interpretation of science-and to reflect more self-consciously on the conceptual and practical choices researchers make. (shrink)
Historians of science have attributed the emergence of ecology as a discipline in the late nineteenth century to the synthesis of Humboldtian botanical geography and Darwinian evolution. In this essay, I begin to explore another, largely neglected but very important dimension of this history. Using Sergei Vinogradskii’s career and scientific research trajectory as a point of entry, I illustrate the manner in which microbiologists, chemists, botanists, and plant physiologists inscribed the concept of a “cycle of life” into their investigations. (...) Their research transformed a longstanding notion into the fundamental approaches and concepts that underlay the new ecological disciplines that emerged in the 1920s. Pasteur thus joins Humboldt as a foundational figure in ecological thinking, and the broader picture that emerges of the history of ecology explains some otherwise puzzling features of that discipline – such as its fusion of experimental and natural historical methodologies. Vinogradskii’s personal “cycle of life” is also interesting as an example of the interplay between Russian and Western European scientific networks and intellectual traditions. Trained in Russia to investigate nature as a super-organism comprised of circulating energy, matter, and life; over the course of five decades – in contact with scientists and scientific discourses in France, Germany, and Switzerland – he developed a series of research methods that translated the concept of a “cycle of life” into an ecologically conceived soil science and microbiology in the 1920s and 1930s. These methods, bolstered by his authority as a founding father of microbiology, captured the attention of an international network of scientists. Vinogradskii’s conceptualization of the “cycle of life” as chemosynthesis, autotrophy, and global nutrient cycles attracted the attention of ecosystem ecologists; and his methods appealed to practitioners at agricultural experiment stations and microbiological institutes in the United States, Western Europe, and the Soviet Union. (shrink)
In the first edition of Radical Ecology --the now classic examination major philosophical, ethical, scientific, and economic roots of environmental problems--Carolyn Merchant responded to the profound awareness of environmental crisis which prevailed in the closing decade of the twentieth century. In this provocative and readable study, Merchant examined the ways that radical ecologists can transform science and society in order to sustain life on this planet. Now in this second edition, Merchant continues to emphasize how laws, regulations and scientific (...) research alone cannot reverse the spread of pollution or restore our dwindling resources. Merchant argues that in order to maintain a livable world, we must formulate new social, economic, scientific, and spiritual approaches that will fundamentally transform human relationships with nature. She analyzes the revolutionary ideas of visionary ecologists for a new economy, society, science, and religion, and examines their efforts to bring environmental problems to the attention of the public. This new edition features a new Introduction from the author, a thorough updating of chapters, and two entirely new chapters on recent global movements and globalization and the environment. It is a timely update that will give students everything they need to know on the most recent philosophical positions and social movements that characterize the radical ecology spectrum. (shrink)
Human behavioral ecology (HBE) began as an attempt to explain human economic, reproductive, and social behavior using neodarwinian theory in concert with theory from ecology and economics, and ethnographic methods. HBE has addressed subsistence decision-making, cooperation, life history trade-offs, parental investment, mate choice, and marriage strategies among hunter-gatherers, herders, peasants, and wage earners in rural and urban settings throughout the world. Despite our rich insights into human behavior, HBE has very rarely been used as a tool to help (...) the people with whom we work. This article introduces a special issue of Human Nature which explores the application of HBE to significant world issues through the design and critique of public policy and international development projects. The articles by Tucker, Shenk, Leonetti et al., and Neil were presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Washington, D.C., in December 2005, in the first organized session of the nascent Evolutionary Anthropology Section (EAS). We conclude this introduction by summarizing some theoretical challenges to applying HBE, and ways in which evolutionary anthropologists can contribute to solving tough world issues. (shrink)
This article outlines the ecological and ethnobotanical characteristics of the monkey-puzzle tree (Araucariaaraucana), a long-lived conifer of great importance to the indigenous population living in and around its range in the southern Andes. The article also considers the pre-Columbian and historical use of indigenous fire technology. Conclusive evidence of indigenous burning is unavailable. However, our knowledge of native fire ecology elsewhere and our understanding of monkey-puzzle's ecological response to fire suggest that indigenous people probably burned in the past to (...) facilitate the growth of monkey-puzzle trees relative to other species. The obstacles to recovering and redeploying a defunct fire-based production strategy include the vulnerable condition of monkey-puzzle stands after decades of intense logging and burning (by non-indigenous settlers), inadequate access to land and resources by the region's indigenous inhabitants, livestock pressure, depletion of game animals that were once hunted with fire, and reluctance by indigenous people to embrace old production strategies that have been supplanted by new ones based on domesticated animals and crop cultivation. Prescribed burns in selected areas offer an effective way to assess the feasibility of indigenous burning as an alternative to more conventional development initiatives. (shrink)
Between the body and the breathing earth : on the phenomenology of depth perception -- To praise again : phenomenology and the project of ecopsychology -- Postphenomenology and the lifeworld : interconnections, relationships, and environmental wholes : a phenomenological ecology of natural and built worlds.
Children’s play is widely believed by educators and social scientists to have a training function that contributes to psychosocial development as well as the acquisition of skills related to adult competency in task performance. In this paper we examine these assumptions from the perspective of life-history theory using behavioral observation and household economic data collected among children in a community in the Okavango Delta of Botswana where people engage in mixed subsistence regimes of dry farming, foraging, and herding.We hypothesize that (...) if play contributes to adult competency then time allocation to play will decrease as children approach adult levels of competence. This hypothesis generates the following predictions: (1) time allocated to play activities that develop specific productive skills should decline in relation to the proportion of adult competency achieved; (2) children will spend more time in forms of play that are related to skill development in tasks specific to the subsistence ecology in which that child participates or expects to participate; and (3) children will spend more time in forms of play that are related to skill development in tasks clearly related to the gender-specific productive role in the subsistence ecology in which that child participates or expects to participate.We contrast these expectations with the alternative hypothesis that if play is not preparatory for adult competence then time allocated to each play activity should diminish at the same rate. This latter hypothesis generates the following two predictions: (1) time allocation to play should be unaffected by subsistence regime and (2) patterns of time allocation to play should track patterns of growth and energy balance.Results from multiple regression analysis support earlier research in this community showing that trade-offs between immediate productivity and future returns were a primary determinant of children’s activity patterns. Children whose labor was in greater demand spent significantly less time playing. In addition, controlling for age and gender, children spent significantly more time in play activities related to tasks specific to their household subsistence economy. These results are consistent with the assertion that play is an important factor in the development of adult competency and highlight the important contributions of an evolutionary ecological perspective in understanding children’s developmental trajectories. (shrink)
The most pressing problems facing humanity today - over-population, energy shortages, climate change, soil erosion, species extinctions, the risk of epidemic disease, the threat of warfare that could destroy all the hard-won gains of civilization, and even the recent fibrillations of the stock market - are all ecological or have a large ecological component. in this volume philosophers turn their attention to understanding the science of ecology and its huge implications for the human project. To get the application of (...)ecology to policy or other practical concerns right, humanity needs a clear and disinterested philosophical understanding of ecology which can help identify the practical lessons of science. Conversely, the urgent practical demands humanity faces today cannot help but direct scientific and philosophical investigation toward the basis of those ecological challenges that threaten human survival. This book will help to fuel the timely renaissance of interest in philosophy of ecology that is now occurring in the philosophical profession. Provides a bridge between philosophy and current scientific findings Covers theory and applications Encourages multi-disciplinary dialogue. (shrink)
Using a case study from the Kolli Hills, India, I suggest that political ecology provides a useful theoretical basis for considering localized dietary transitions in rural, agricultural communities in developing countries. By examining the reasons for the near-disappearance of local minor millets as staple foods in three small-farmer communities, I argue that an explicit, actor-oriented analysis allows for an integration of food issues with considerations of environmental circumstances, local aspirations, and labor concerns. That is, an agricultural shift that abandons (...) minor millets as a food resource reflects environmental changes and household economic aspirations. Such an analysis has implications for the creation of practical food security projects through the recognition and incorporation of small-farmer experiences, voices, and priorities. This research was undertaken through ethnographic fieldwork, using semi-structured interviews and participant observation as the primary methods. (shrink)
This article focuses on early British vegetation science, in particular on the British Vegetation Committee. In earlier histories of (plant) ecology, the period of the Committee's life, 1904-1913, renowned for its surveys and its maps, was depicted as a brief prelude to British plant ecology. This article traces the course of "survey" and "ecology" within the Committee, demonstrating that survey and ecology were both distinct and intertwined within the Committee. The Committee adhered to two lines of (...) research, one analyzing relatively large areas of vegetation on a small scale (few details), and the other, relatively small areas on a large scale (great detail). When the Committee was founded, vegetation research of relatively large areas dominated, but the balance gradually swung towards research on small areas. Two prominent Committee members, Smith and Tansley, furthermore advocated two research plans, a national survey plan and an ecological research plan. These diverging ideals however co-existed peacefully and uncontroversially, in contrast to a survey and ecology dichotomy suggested in earlier accounts. An analysis demonstrates the intertwinement of survey and ecology in the period of the Committee's existence. The "ecological expeditions" also mapped vegetation, and the scale of the "survey work" moreover increased in the Committee's early years. Only by acknowledging their intertwinement can the fate of a particular kind of "survey-research" be understood. My analysis shows that this kind of vegetation research did not survive the Committee because of its ecological orientation. This conclusion contradicts the impression prevailing from earlier historical accounts, viz. that British survey work failed because it was insufficiently ecological. (shrink)
This paper emerges from and aims to contribute to conversations on agricultural biodiversity loss, value, and renewal. Standard international responses to the crisis of agrobiodiversity erosion focus mostly on ex situ preservation of germplasm, with little financial and strategic support for in situ cultivation. Yet, one agrarian collective in the Peruvian Andes—the Parque de la Papa (Parque)—has repatriated a thousand native potatoes from the gene bank in Lima so as to catalyze in situ regeneration of lost agricultural biodiversity in the (...) region. Drawing on participant action research and observation, this paper engages with the projects underway at the Parque—as well as “indigenous biocultural heritage” (IBCH), the original action-framework guiding the Parque’s work. IBCH grounds the ecology of successful crop diversity within the Andean cosmovisión, or worldview—which is included, but marginalized, in mainstream agrobiodiversity conservation policies. The IBCH concept counters apolitical renderings of agrobiodiversity erosion, arguing that this disregard of biocultural heritage perpetuates colonialist devaluations of efficacious “traditional ecological knowledge” and epistemologies. Accordingly, this paper discerns here an on-site, or in situ, political ecology of agricultural biodiversity conservation. (shrink)
This book presents a comprehensive view of an important new field in human geography and interdisciplinary studies of nature-society relations. Tracing the development of political ecology from its origins in geography and ecological anthropology in the 1970s, to its current status as an established field, the book investigates how late twentieth-century developments in social and ecological theories are brought together to create a powerful framework for comprehending environmental problems. Making Political Ecology argues for an inclusionary conceptualization of the (...) field that absorbs empirical studies from urban, rural, First World and Third World contexts and the theoretical insights of feminism, poststructuralism, neo-Marxism, and non-equilibrium ecology. Extracts from the writings of key figures in political ecology provide an empirical grounding for these abstract concepts. Neumann's book will convince readers of political ecology's particular suitability for grappling with the most difficult questions concerning social justice, environmental change, and human relationships with nature. (shrink)
Ecology, Community and Lifestyle is a revised and expanded translation of Naess' book Okologi, Samfunn og Livsstil, which sets out the author's thinking on the relevance of philosophy to the problems of environmental degradation and the rethinking of the relationship between mankind and nature. The text has been thoroughly updated by Naess and revised and translated by David Rothenberg.
Ecologists use a remarkable range of methods and techniques to understand complex, inherently variable, and functionally diverse entities and processes across a staggering range of spatial, temporal and interactive scales. These multiple perspectives make ecology very different to the exemplar of science often presented by philosophers. In Philosophical Foundations for the Practices of Ecology, designed for graduate students and researchers, ecology is put into a new philosophical framework that engages with this inherent pluralism while still placing constraints (...) on the ways that we can investigate and understand nature. The authors begin by exploring the sources of variety in the practice of ecology and how these have led to the current conceptual confusion. They argue that the solution is to adopt the approach of constrained perspectivism and go on to explore the ontological, metaphysical, and epistemological aspects of this position and how it can be used in ecological research and teaching. (shrink)
Political ecology has developed as an academic discipline in reaction to the increased concern of nations and individuals about humanity's adverse impact on the environment and the ways international bodies have moved to counter this impact. This new text draws together international experts at the cutting edge of this new field to focus on real world examples of problems and the tension between developed and developing states.
Governments and non-govermental organizations (NGOs) that plan projects to conserve the environment and alleviate poverty often attempt to modify rural livelihoods by halting activities they judge to be destructive or inefficient and encouraging alternatives. Project planners typically do so without understanding how rural people themselves judge the value of their activities. When the alternatives planners recommend do not replace the value of banned activities, alternatives are unlikely to be adopted, and local people will refuse to participate. Human behavioral ecology (...) and behavioral economics may provide useful tools for generating and evaluating hypotheses for how people value economic activities in their portfolios and potential alternatives. This is demonstrated with a case example from southwestern Madagascar, where plans to create a Mikea Forest National Park began with the elimination of slash-and-burn maize agriculture and the encouragement to plant labor-intensive manioc instead. Future park plans could restrict access to wild tuber patches, hunting small game, and fishing. The value of these activities is considered using observational data informed by optimal foraging theory, and experimental data describing people’s time preference and covariation perception. Analyses suggest that manioc is not a suitable replacement for maize for many Mikea because the two crops differ in terms of labor requirements, delay-to-reward, and covariation with rainfall. Park planners should promote wild tuber foraging and stewardship of tuber patches and the anthropogenic landscapes in which they are found. To conserve small game, planners must provide alternative sources of protein and cash. Little effort should be spent protecting lemurs, as they are rarely eaten and never sold. (shrink)
We add to current discussions about the interface between ecology, values, and objectivity by reporting on a novel Delphi-based study of the scientific reasoning employed by a group of eight ecologists as they collectively considered current ecological thinking. We rely on contextual empiricism, with its features of multiple ways of relating theory to reality and science as a social activity, to provide a richer understanding of scientific objectivity. This understanding recognizes the place and contributions of values and, in so (...) doing, moves the discussion beyond whether or not science is value neutral. (shrink)