Special Seminar

From planetary boundaries to ecosystem services: Guiding development on a changing planet

The current scale, rate, and intensity of anthropogenic change is unprecedented, and has evoked broad discussion about how these changes will affect the future of the planet. Ecosystem services can be an effective organizing principle for meeting the needs of a growing global population while maintaining resilient provision of other services across landscapes. The very idea of ecosystem services compels us to consider more than one service and obliges us to consider the interactions and relationships among services on the landscape.

Resolving host-microbe conflict

Human societies around the world are regulated by sets of over-lapping rules: fiscal, judicial, etc. Practices, such as coercing, regulating, and policing, prevent cheating and exploitation, and allow for large-scale cooperation that drives modern societies.  Such control is necessary because cooperation is fragile: an association that starts out being mutually beneficial can evolve into one that is parasitic. This is especially true in symbiotic relationships in nature, in which different species form intimate partnerships that allow them to trade services and resources.

Natural and Human Agencies Drive African Savanna Ecosystems

African national parks have served as templates for theoretical models of naturally functioning ecosystems and in conserving wildlife assemblages. Overlooked has been the co-evolutionary role humans played in shaping Pleistocene ecosystems and the dominant role of pastoralism in restructuring Holocene landscapes. Comparative studies of protected and non-protected areas used to infer human activity fail to capture the cascading effects of segregating inter-linked human and wildlife ecology.

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