Thursday, August 11, 2016: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Grand Floridian Blrm C, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Allen A. Thompson, Oregon State University
Valerie T. Eviner, University of California Davis
Novel ecosystems are instances of recombinant ecologies that, due to human influence, exhibit compositional, structural, and functional profiles with no analog in the historic record. Just under 1/3 of all terrestrial landscapes are novel. Given pervasive background anthropogenic drivers of environmental change we may expect novel ecosystems to become even more abundant during the Anthropocene.
Novel ecosystems challenge historically oriented practices of ecosystem management. Hobbs et al. (2014) developed a management framework that incorporates various ecosystem types, including historical, hybrid, novel, productive, urban and other residential “patches” across heterogeneous landscapes. This signals a progression of work on novel ecosystems from definition and conceptual development in ecology to social application in responsive management policy and practice.
We characterize the incorporation of novel ecosystems into landscape-scale management as an instance of adaptive ecosystem management under conditions of non-regressive anthropogenic environmental influence. Jackson presents paleoecological data to demonstrate that novelty is not unusual in historic ecological change, and argues that ecological novelty will inevitably increase as a result of global climate change. Higgs locates novel ecosystems within practices of ecological restoration, where goals based on historic fidelity are losing traction. With evidence documenting landscape change, he argues how history remains important even as human activity accelerates the emergence of novel ecosystems.
In an age of rapid anthropogenic ecological change a framework that incorporates all systems, across the spectrum of degrees of alteration, provides a fuller set of options for how and when to intervene, uses limited resources more effectively, and increases the chances of achieving the plurality of management goals. Hobbs presents a framework integrating various ecosystem typologies, including novel ecosystems. Public dialogue will be key to success, since transparent, inclusive, and deliberative processes enable citizens and managers to work together. Thompson discusses how novel ecosystems intersect with debates about "new" conservation and the intrinsic value of nature. Connecting alternative theories of value with moral responsibility for novel ecosystems and landscape management, he links the approach of Hobbs et al. to a philosophy of adaptive ecosystem management.
Murphy presents cases of employing the integrated management framework, providing examples of discursive forums where managers and stakeholders consider goals, methods, and models for ecosystem management in particular places. In closing, Norton discusses how values are expressed in the scaling and modeling of environmental problems and are key components of adaptive management, which he defends as central to understanding a "strong" and normative conception of sustainability.