Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Environmental researchers propose radical 'human-centric' map of the world

29.11.2007
Ecologists pay too much attention to increasingly rare "pristine" ecosystems while ignoring the overwhelming influence of humans on the environment, say researchers from McGill University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Prof. Erle Ellis of UMBC and Prof. Navin Ramankutty of McGill assert that the current system of classifying ecosystems into biomes (or "ecological communities") like tropical rainforests, grasslands and deserts may be misleading. Instead, they propose an entirely new model of human-centered "anthropegenic" biomes in the November 19 issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

"Ecologists go to remote parts of the planet to study pristine ecosystems, but no one studies it in their back yard," said Ramankutty, assistant professor in McGill's Department of Geography and the Earth System Science Program. "It's time to start putting instrumentation in our back yards – both literal and metaphorical – to study what's going on there in terms of ecosystem functioning."

Existing biome classification systems are based on natural-world factors such as plant structures, leaf types, plant spacing and climate. The Bailey System, developed in the 1970's, divides North America into four climate-based biomes: polar, humid temperate, dry and humid tropical. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) ecological land classification system identifies 14 major biomes, including tundra, boreal forests, temperate coniferous forests and deserts and xeric shrublands. For their part, Ellis and Ramankutty propose a radically new system of anthropogenic biomes – dubbed "anthromes" – which includes residential rangelands, dense settlements, villages and croplands.

"Over the last million years, we have had glacial-interglacial cycles, with enormous changes in climate and massive shifts in ecosystems," said Ramankutty. "The human influence on the planet today is almost on the same scale. Nearly 30 to 40% of the world's land surface today is used just for growing food and grazing animals to serve the human population."

The researchers argue human land-use practices have fundamentally altered the planet. "Our analysis was quite surprising," said Ramankutty. "Only about 20% of the world's ice-free land-surface is pristine. The rest has some kind of anthropogenic influence, so if you're studying a pristine landscape, you're really only studying about 20% of the world."

"If you want to think about going into a sustainable future and restoring ecosystems, we have to accept that humans are here to stay. Humans are part of the package, and any restoration has to include human activities in it."

Mark Shainblum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcgill.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging
14.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>