SYMP 22-2 - Anthrome communities, anthrobiogeography and the global ecology of anthropogenic landscapes

Friday, August 12, 2016: 8:30 AM
Grand Floridian Blrm C, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Erle Ellis, Department of Geography & Environmental Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD
Background/Question/Methods:

More than three quarters of the terrestrial biosphere has been transformed by human societies and their use of land into anthropogenic biomes, or anthromes. To investigate, understand and model ecological patterns and processes in these complex anthropogenic landscape mosaics created and sustained by human societies over the long term, human sociocultural processes must become as much a part of ecological theory and practice as biological and geophysical processes are now. Anthroecology theory uses human sociocultural niche construction to explain the unprecedented long-term transformative effects of human societies on biogeography, ecological succession, ecosystem processes, and the ecological patterns and processes of landscapes, biomes and the biosphere. Here, the potential of anthroecology theory to strengthen scientific understanding of novel anthropogenic communities and ecosystems is explored based on ecological hypotheses generated through its emergent frameworks of anthroecosystems, anthrosequences, anthroecological succession, anthrobiogeography, ecological inheritance, and adaptations to human sociocultural niche construction by nonhuman species.  The utility of these frameworks and their alignment with established theoretical frameworks on social-ecological systems, social metabolism, countryside biogeography, novel ecosystems and anthromes will also be assessed.

Results/Conclusions:

The theoretical frameworks of anthroecology theory show strong alignment with existing frameworks for understanding anthropogenic ecological change, while producing novel hypotheses on community and ecosystem pattern, process and dynamics that go beyond those of prior theory.  While these hypotheses remain largely untested at present, and their testing will require the use of tools and methodologies not now present in most ecologist’s toolkits, they offer ecological science a way forward towards gaining the capacity to investigate, understand, and address the ultimate causes of anthropogenic ecological change, not just the consequences. In the increasingly anthropogenic biosphere of the Anthropocene, ecological science cannot advance without this.