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It is no longer possible nor desirable to address the dual challenges of equity and sustainability separately. Instead, they require new thinking and approaches which recognize their interlinkages, as well as the multiple perspectives and dimensions involved. We illustrate how equity and sustainability are intertwined, and how a complex social–ecological systems lens brings together advances from across the social and natural sciences to show how (in)equity and (un)sustainability are produced by the interactions and dynamics of coupled social–ecological systems. This should help understand which possible pathways could lead to sustainable and fair futures.
The discipline of ecology has evolved through several phases as it has developed and defined itself and its relationship with human society. While it initially had little to do with human concerns, it has become more applied, and is today more integrated with the human element in the way it conceptualizes complex social-ecological systems. As the science has developed, so too have its relationships with other disciplines, as well as people and processes outside the domain of science. However, it is unclear how far ecology has progressed in developing these relationships and where it should best focus its efforts in the future in order to increase its relevance and role in society. The concept of ecosystem services (the benefits people get from nature) has the potential to further this integration and clarify ecology's role and relevance in society, however doubt remains as to whether the concept has helped ecology in developing disciplinary and societal relationships. This review assesses the progress of ecology in relation to a transdisciplinary knowledge hierarchy (empirical, pragmatic, normative and purposive) where all levels of the hierarchy are coordinated on the basis of an overall purpose introduced from the purposive level down. At each of the levels of the knowledge hierarchy, the principles of transdisciplinarity, ecology's progress, the contribution of ecosystem services to this progress and future directions for a transdisciplinary ecology are explored. Ecology has made good progress in developing an interdisciplinary dialogue between the natural and social sciences and sectors. It is well-integrated with empirical and pragmatic disciplines and coordinates research at these two levels. At the normative level, the absence of collaborative frameworks and planning instruments is a major gap limiting the influence that ecology can have on land and resource use decisions at this level. At the purposive level, ecology has limited interactions with a narrow set of values associated with ecological ethics and economics. There is an obvious need for ecology to engage with the purposive disciplines of philosophy, ethics and theology, but also a need for ecological research to transform itself into a social process dealing with values and norms of both society and science. Ecosystem services have helped ecology to make links with many disciplines at the empirical and pragmatic levels, provided a useful concept and framework for interactions at the normative level requiring further examination, and helped make values explicit, allowing ecologists to begin to interact with the purposive level. The Western ecological economic origins of the ecosystem service concept presents a potential constraint to interactions at the purposive level, and must be considered and addressed if ecosystem services are to further the development of a transdisciplinary ecology, the joint ecology-society debate and the formulation and execution of policy.
The distribution and abundance of free-living arthropods from soil and under stones were surveyed at the Cape Hallett ice-free area (ASPA No. 106), North Victoria Land, Antarctica. A total of 327 samples from 67 plots yielded 11 species of arthropods comprised of three Collembola: Cryptopygus cisantarcticus, Friesea grisea and Isotoma klovstadi and eight mites: Coccorhagidia gressitti, Eupodes wisei, Maudheimia petronia, Nanorchestes sp., Stereotydeus belli, S. punctatus, Tydeus setsukoae and T. wadei. Arthropods were absent from areas occupied by the large Adélie penguin colony. There was some distinction among arthropod communities of different habitats, with water and a lichen species (indicative of scree slope habitats) ranking as significant community predictors alongside spatial variables in a Canonical Correspondence Analysis. Recent changes to the management plan for ASPA No. 106 may need to be revisited as the recommended campsite is close to the area of greatest arthropod diversity.
Conservation planning and practice rely heavily on abundance information generated at local scales for decision-making. Unfortunately most distributional data are only provided as presence–absence records at regional or national scales and cannot be used for making local conservation decisions. To date, two methods have been proposed for estimating local abundances and area of occupancy from coarse-scale presence–absence data. Kunin (1998) proposed the use of the fractal method, which assumes that species distributions are self-similar across scales. He & Gaston (2000a), in turn, proposed the use of the negative binomial distribution (NBD) for estimating abundances from presence–absence data collected at different scales. Previously only plant data were used to test these models. In the present study, they were tested using distributional presence–absence, as well as abundance data for a selection of large herbivores that have a restricted distribution in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. The results illustrate that the fractal method tends to overestimate areas of occupancy, while the NBD method underestimates the areas of occupancy of all species. This means that there were significant differences between the predictions provided by the two methods. Both these methods rely on the relationship between the area of occupancy and the size of the area over which the survey is conducted, but describe this relationship in a different way. These techniques could prove useful in the field of conservation biology and this study illustrates that these methods can be used on large mammal species and deliver results that are consistent with previous studies on plants.
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