July 24, 2009

Engineering ecosystems for services

From Nature:
[Peter] Kareiva is a great fan of the ecosystem-services argument for preserving nature. But he admits that the problem of what to do when novel ecosystems provide better services than the native ones is "a question we don't talk about that much".
And Kent H. Redford and William M. Adams write in Conservation Biology:
[E]cosystem services need not be provided by native species. Many introduced species will do the job as well, or perhaps better. Zebra mussels are highly effective in filtering particulates from water, although their impact on ecosystems is in other ways strongly negative. Ecosystems managed so as to deliver services may do their job perfectly well if existing species are replaced with exotics; they may even do it better. Environmental policy based on the optimization of ecosystem-service values will not necessarily lead to the conservation of biodiversity. [...]

A logical extension of the alteration of natural systems to increase flows of ecosystem services is to replace naturally occurring parts with novel, artificial alternatives.
Of course, this is the kind of thing humans have been doing for millennia in order to get food, clothing, refuge and entertainment.

No comments:

Post a Comment