New Wine and Old Wineskins? Novel Ecosystems and Conceptual Change

in Nature and Culture
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Waterloo and the Centre for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa blarson@uwaterloo.ca
Restricted access

ABSTRACT

The concept of novel ecosystems (CNE) has been proposed as a way to recognize the extent and value of ecosystems that have been irreversibly transformed by human activity. Although the CNE has recently been subject to critique, existing critiques do not appear to seriously engage with the extent of anthropogenic change to the world’s ecosystems. Here, I seek to provide a deeper, philosophical and constructive critique, specifically arguing that the usefulness of the CNE is limited in the following three ways: (1) it is too static, (2) it is too vague, and (3) it is too dualistic. Although the CNE provides some conceptual advance (“new wine”), some of its conceptualization and packaging weakly support this advance (“old wineskins”), so I consider some ways to further develop it, in part to encourage more widespread recognition and appreciation of novel ecosystems.

Contributor Notes

Brendon Larson completed a Bachelor’s in biology (University of Guelph), a Master’s in botany (University of Toronto), and an interdisciplinary PhD in science and society (University of California–Santa Barbara), and he is now an Associate Professor in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo. He has published over 60 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and in 2011 Yale University Press published his first monograph, Metaphors for Environmental Sustainability: Redefining Our Relationship with Nature. His current research focuses on stakeholder perceptions of assisted colonization, invasive species, and novel social-ecological systems. For more information, please visit www.brendonlarson.com. Address: School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L3G1, Canada. E-mail: blarson@uwaterloo.ca.

  • Arias-Maldonado, Manuel. 2013. “Rethinking Sustainability in the Anthropocene.” Environmental Politics 22(3): 428446.

  • Barad, Karen. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bohm, David. 1980. Wholeness and the Implicate Order. New York: Routledge.

  • Borgmann, Albert. 1995. “The Nature of Reality and the Reality of Nature.” In Reinventing Nature? Responses to Postmodern Deconstruction, ed. Michael E. Soulé and Gary Lease, pp. 3145. New York: Island Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bowcott, Owen, and Nick Hopkins. 2012. “Future is Assured for Death-Dealing, Life-Saving Drones.” The Guardian. 4 August. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/04/future-drones (accessed 24 June 2014).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Callicott, J. Baird, Larry B. Crowder, and Karen Mumford. 1999. “Current Normative Concepts in Conservation.” Conservation Biology 13(1): 2235.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Caro, Tim, Jack Darwin, Tavis Forrester, Cynthia Ledoux-Bloom, and Caitlin Wells. 2011. “Conservation in the Anthropocene.” Conservation Biology 26(1): 185188.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coates, Peter. 1998. Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Crist, Eileen. 2013. “On the Poverty of Our Nomenclature.” Environmental Humanities 3: 129147.

  • Cronon, William. 1995. “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature” in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon, pp. 6990. New York: W.W. Norton.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Donlan, C. Josh, Joel Berger, Carl E. Bock, Jane H. Bock, David A. Burney, James A. Estes, Dave Foreman, Paul S. Martin, Gary W. Roemer, Felisa A. Smith, Michael E. Soulé, and Harry W. Greene. 2006. “Pleistocene Rewilding: An Optimistic Agenda for Twenty-First Century Conservation.” American Naturalist 168: 660681.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fleming, Patricia A. 2006. “Can Nature (Legitimately) Be Our Guide?” In Religion and the New Ecology: Environmental Responsibility in a World in Flux, ed. David M. Lodge, and Christopher Hamlin, pp. 199225. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Foxcroft, Llewellyn C., Petr Pyšek, David M. Richardson, and Piero Genovesi, eds. 2013. Plant Invasions in Protected Areas: Patterns, Problems and Challenges. Dordrecht: Springer.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gare, Arran E. 1995. Postmodernism and the Environmental Crisis. New York: Routledge.

  • Head, Lesley. 2012. “Decentring 1788: Beyond Biotic Nativeness.” Geographical Research 50(2): 166178.

  • Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. 2007. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. New York: Random House.

  • Higgs, Eric. 2003. Nature by Design: People, Natural Process, and Ecological Restoration. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Hobbs, Richard J., Salvatore Arico, James Aronson, Jill S. Baron, Peter Bridgewater, Viki A. Cramer, Paul R. Epstein, et al. 2006. “Novel Ecosystems: Theoretical and Management Aspects of the New Ecological World Order.” Global Ecology and Biogeography 15(1): 17.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hobbs, Richard J., David N. Cole, Laurie Yung, Erika S. Zavaleta, Gregory H. Aplet, F. Stuart Chapin III, Peter B. Landres, et al. 2010. “Guiding Concepts for Park and Wilderness Stewardship in an Era of Global Environmental Change.” Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 8(9): 483490.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hobbs, Richard J., Eric S. Higgs, and James A. Harris. 2009. “Novel Ecosystems: Implications for Conservation and Restoration.” Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24: 599605.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hobbs, Richard J., Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, ed. 2013a. Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hobbs, Richard J., Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall. 2013b. “Defining Novel Ecosystems.” In Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, ed. Richard J. Hobbs, Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, pp. 5860. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hobbs, Richard J., Eric S. Higgs, and James A. Harris. 2014. “Novel Ecosystems—Concept or Inconvenient Reality? A Response to Murcia et al.” Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29: 645646.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Houston, Donna. 2013. “Crisis Is Where We Live: Environmental Justice for the Anthropocene.” Globalizations 10(3): 439450.

  • Ingold, Tim. 2008. “Bindings Against Boundaries: Entanglements of Life in an Open World.” Environment and Planning A 40(8): 17961810.

  • Jackson, Stephen T. 2013. “Perspective: Ecological Novelty is Not New.” In Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, ed. Richard J. Hobbs, Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, pp. 6365. Oxford: Wiley–Blackwell.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Karlsson, Rasmus. 2013. “Ambivalence, Irony, and Democracy in the Anthropocene.” Futures 46: 19.

  • Larson, Brendon M.H. 2011. Metaphors for Environmental Sustainability: Redefining Our Relationship with Nature. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Lindenmayer, David B., Joern Fischer, Adam Felton, Mason Crane, Damian Michael, Christopher Macgregor, Rebecca Montague–Drake, Adrian Manning, and Richard J. Hobbs. 2008. “Novel Ecosystems Resulting from Landscape Transformation Create Dilemmas for Modern Conservation Practice.” Conservation Letters 1(3): 129135.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lodge, David M., and Christopher Hamlin, ed. 2006. Religion and the New Ecology: Environmental Responsibility in a World in Flux. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lorimer, Jamie. 2012. “Multinatural Geographies for the Anthropocene.” Progress in Human Geography 36(5): 593612.

  • MacMahon, James A., and Karen D. Holl. 2002. “Designer Communities.” Conservation Biology in Practice 3(1): 34.

  • Malm, Andreas, and Alf Hornborg. 2014. “The Geology of Mankind? A Critique of the Anthropocene Narrative.” Anthropocene Review 1(1): 6269.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marris, Emma. 2009. “Ragamuffin Earth.” Nature 460: 450453.

  • Marris, Emma. 2011. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. New York: Bloomsbury.

  • Marris, Emma, Joseph Mascaro, and Erle C. Ellis. 2013. “Perspective: Is Everything a Novel Ecosystem? If So, Do We Need the Concept?” In Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, ed. Richard J. Hobbs, Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, pp. 345349. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mascaro, Joseph, James A. Harris, Lori Lach, Allen Thompson, Michael P. Perring, David M. Richardson, and Erle C. Ellis. 2013. “Origins of the Novel Ecosystems Concept.” In Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, ed. Richard J. Hobbs, Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, pp. 4557. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McKibben, Bruce. 1989. The End of Nature. Toronto: Doubleday.

  • McLachlan, Jason S., Jessica J. Hellmann, and Mark W. Schwartz. 2007. “A Framework for Debate of Assisted Migration in an Era of Climate Change.” Conservation Biology 21(2): 297302.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McNeely, Jeffrey A. 2013. “Global Efforts to Address the Wicked Problem of Invasive Alien Species.” In Plant Invasions in Protected Areas: Patterns, Problems and Challenges, ed. Llewellyn C. Foxcroft, Petr Pyšek, David M. Richardson, and Piero Genovesi, pp. 6171. Dordrecht: Springer.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meiners, Scott J., and Steward T.A. Pickett. 2013. “Plant Invasions in Protected Landscapes: Exception or Expectation?” In Plant Invasions in Protected Areas: Patterns, Problems and Challenges, ed. Llewellyn C. Foxcroft, Petr Pyšek, David M. Richardson, and Piero Genovesi, pp. 4360. Dordrecht: Springer.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Merchant, Carolyn. 1980. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Harper and Row.

  • Milton, Sue J. 2003. “‘Emerging Ecosystems’: A Washing-Stone for Ecologists, Economists and Sociologists?” South African Journal of Science 99: 404406.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Murcia, Carolina, James Aronson, Gustavo H. Kattan, David Moreno-Mateos, Kingsley Dixon, and Daniel Simberloff. 2014. “A Critique of the ‘Novel Ecosystem’ Concept.” Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29: 548553.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ogden, Laura, Nik Heynen, Ulrich Oslender, Paige West, Karim-Aly Kassam, and Paul Robbins. 2013. “Global Assemblages, Resilience, and Earth Stewardship in the Anthropocene.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(7): 341347.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Perring, Michael P., and Erle C. Ellis. 2013. “The Extent of Novel Ecosystems: Long in Time and Broad in Space.” In Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, ed. Richard J. Hobbs, Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, pp. 6680. Oxford: Wiley–Blackwell.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pfeiffer, Jeanine M., and Rorbert A. Voeks. 2008. “Biological Invasions and Biocultural Diversity: Linking Ecological and Cultural Systems.” Environmental Conservation 35(4): 281293.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Proctor, James D. 2009. “Environment After Nature: Time for a New Vision.” In Envisioning Nature, Science, and Religion, pp. 293311. West Conshohoken, PA: Templeton Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Proctor, James D. 2013. “Saving Nature in the Anthropocene.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 3(1): 8392.

  • Robbins, Paul, and Moore, Sarah A. 2013. “Ecological Anxiety Disorder: Diagnosing the Politics of the Anthropocene.” Cultural Geographies 20(1): 319.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sandler, Ron. 2013. “Climate Change and Ecosystem Management.” Ethics, Policy & Environment 16(1): 115.

  • Schwarz, Dietmar, Benjamin M. Matta, Nicole L. Shakir-Botteri, and Bruce A. McPheron. 2005. “Host Shift to an Invasive Plant Triggers Rapid Animal Hybrid Speciation.” Nature 436: 546549.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Seidl, Roman, Fridolin Simon Brand, Michael Stauffacher, Pius Krütli, Quang Bao Le, Andy Spörri, Grégoire Meylan, Corinne Moser, Monica Berger González, Roland Werner Scholz. 2013. “Science with Society in the Anthropocene.” Ambio 42(1): 512.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Standish, Rachel J., Allen Thompson, Eric S. Higgs, and Stephen D. Murphy. 2013. “Concerns about Novel Ecosystems.” In Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, ed. Richard J. Hobbs, Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, pp. 296309. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Steffen, Will, Jacques Grinevald, Paul Crutzen, and John McNeill. 2011. “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 369(1938): 842867.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wapner, Paul. 2010. Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • White, Damian F., and Chris Wilbert, eds. 2009. Technonatures: Environments, Technologies, Spaces, and Places in the Twenty-first Century. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Worster, Donald. 1995. “Nature and the Disorder of History.” In Reinventing Nature? Responses to Postmodern Deconstruction, ed. Michael E. Soulé and Gary Lease, pp. 6585. New York: Island Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wuerthner, George, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler, eds. 2014. Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth. Washington, DC: Island Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yung, Laurie, Steve Schwarze, Wylie Carr, F. Stuart Chapin III, and Emma Marris. 2013. “Engaging the Public in Novel Ecosystems.” In Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, ed. Richard J. Hobbs, Eric S. Higgs, and Carol M. Hall, pp. 247256. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 51 49 6
Full Text Views 3 2 0
PDF Downloads 2 1 0