Saturday, January 14, 2006

Human-modified ecosystems and future evolution


Western D. Human-modified ecosystems and future evolution. PNAS 2001;98:5458-65.

Full-text of complete article for free-viewing and/or free-downloading at:

I present the Abstract below, which I paragraphed for ease of reading.

“Our global impact is finally receiving the scientific attention it deserves. The outcome will largely determine the future course of evolution.

“Human-modified ecosystems are shaped by our activities and their side effects. They share a common set of traits including simplified food webs, landscape homogenization, and high nutrient and energy inputs.

“Ecosystem simplification is the ecological hallmark of humanity and the reason for our evolutionary success. However, the side effects of our profligacy and poor resource practices are now so pervasive as to threaten our future no less than that of biological diversity itself.

“This article looks at human impact on ecosystems and the consequences for evolution. It concludes that future evolution will be shaped by our awareness of the global threats, our willingness to take action, and our ability to do so.

“Our ability is presently hampered by several factors, including the poor state of ecosystem and planetary knowledge, ignorance of human impact, lack of guidelines for sustainability, and a paucity of good policies, practices, and incentives for adopting those guidelines in daily life.

“Conservation philosophy, science, and practice must be framed against the reality of human dominated ecosystems, rather than the separation of humanity and nature underlying the modern conservation movement. The steps scientists can take to imbed science in conservation and conservation in the societal process affecting the future of ecosystems and human well-being are discussed.”

Tonyseb: PNAS has many other articles on the future of evolution in the same issue one finds the above article: A Colloqium on the Future of Evolution.



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