Ecology, Cognition and Landscape: Linking Natural and Social Systems (Landscape Series)

Ecology, Cognition and Landscape: Linking Natural and Social Systems (Landscape Series)

Almo Farina

Language: English

Pages: 161

ISBN: 9048131375

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

It is more and more evident that our living system is completely disturbed by human intrusion. Such intrusion affects the functioning of entire systems in ways we do not yet fully understand. We use paradigms such as the disturbance to cover large and deep gaps in our scienti?c knowledge. Human ecology is an uncertain terrain for anthropologists, geographers, and ecologists and rarely is expanded to include the social and economic realms. The integration of different disciplines and the application of their many paradigms to problems of environmental complexity remains a distant goal despite the many efforts that have been made to achieve it. Philosophical and semantic barriers are erected when such integration is pursued by pioneering scientists. Recently, evolutionary ecology has shown great interest in the spatial processes well described by the emerging discipline of landscape ecology. But this interest takes the form of pure curiosity or at worst, of skepticism toward the real capacity of landscape ecology to contribute to the advancement of ecological science. The past two centuries have been characterized by huge changes occurring in the entire ecosphere. Global changes are the effects of human intervention at a planetary scale, with consequent degradation of the environment creating an e- logical debt for future generations. On the other side of the issue, new technologies have improved the welfare of billions of people and have given hope to many other billions that they may also see such improvement in the near future.













that a gradient may appear when we reduce the scale of observation inside a patch of the mosaic, or when we enlarge the scale of observation. In this case, the geographical distribution of Prunus spinosa is based on a gra- dient when locally it has a patchy distribution. And the gradient distribution of temperature shows patchy mechanisms when observed at the scale of climatic regions. Some conclude that, gradients and mosaics are a matter of scale. I think rather that they are two

ecological entity but only as a geographical entity. Today it is recognized that a landscape is the result of meta-ecosystemic pro- cesses coupled with cognitive ones, where energy, information, and cybernetic mechanisms are interacting and integrating to produce emergent patterns (mosaics) and processes (resource-oriented suitability). On several occasions ecologists have categorized problems, needs, and envi- ronmental priorities associated with indicators, actions, and recommendations

capabilities (Fig. 8.1). Every organism enters into contact with objects, and this contact creates a “sub- jective universe,” the Umwelt of von Uexküll. This author distinguished for plants that are organisms without a nervous system a Wohnhülle – a cover of live cells by which they select their stimulus and enter into contact with the “phenomeno- logical world” (Fig. 8.2). A subject that enters into contact with a meaning-carrier can be considered a meaning-utilizer. The Umwelt is

characters. Definitively shape, size, and spatial arrangement are key elements affecting presence, abundance, and persistence of species. When new (invading) species enter a matrix they can completely modify the matrix. For instance, when sheep were substituted with feral horses along Mediterranean uplands, grass cover and diversity appeared to be strongly modified. Size and foraging strategies alter the vegetational dynamics and species composi- tion. In the same way the invasion of wild

Farina and Belgrano 2006). This is done deliberately to rebuild the foundations of landscape ecology. When or where should this process of inducing dynamics in our discipline to strengthen its performance end? Is there a point at which it can be concluded that landscape ecology has reached a sufficient level of maturity at which more dynamics will only mystify? The existence of this end point is hard to predict, and its existence could even be contested, since the future environmental

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