- 出版社: Island Press (2015年8月5日)
- 精装: 272页
- 语种： 英语
- ISBN: 1597269921
- 条形码: 9781597269926
- 商品尺寸: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
- 商品重量: 558 g
- ASIN: 1597269921
- 用户评分: 分享我的评价
The Science of Open Spaces: Theory and Practice for Conserving Large, Complex Systems 精装 – 2015年8月5日
"Curtin's book is winningly written, acutely observed and draws on his work in community-based conservation... [it] offers some hope of achieving sustainable land management in large ecosystems."--New Scientist "Every reader will appreciate the well-presented case studies and for those who have worked in the trenches struggling with landscape scale conservation efforts, I guarantee there will be many aha moments."--Living Landscape Observer "The book defies the typical top-down thinking of conservation theorists and government agencies and effectively demonstrates that one-size-fits-all strategies do not work in complex open systems."--Conservation Biology "A valuable resource..as well as an enlightening read for scientists, professionals, and academicians, regardless of academic specialty." --CHOICE "The Science of Open Spaces provides readers with a roadmap to 21st century land management, where the stakes are high, collaboration is crucial, and profound uncertainty in the face of the complexity often hampers decision-making. The scope of issue could easily intimidate, leading to quick, reactive choices or even paralysis. Curtin instead offers a structured, accessible approach for tackling the understanding and management of open spaces...Curtin does an exceptional job of balancing interesting yet readable case studies with underlying ecological and sociological theory...Readers will find this book an engaging and substantive guide to the pitfalls and paths to success of collaborative conservation."--The Prairie Naturalist "Scientists, theorists, conservationists, policy-makers teachers, and students alike will find The Science of Open Spaces useful and challenging. ... like most of us, he has sought to make the most of his personal experience as a scientist concerned with the conservation of open spaces, and striving to see clearly through complexity. His effort, and the results he presents, will strongly resonate with readers."--Ecology "The Science of Open Spaces weaves together theory and practice to advance our understanding of managing complex resource systems. Charles Curtin applies concepts from thermodynamics, complexity theory, and macroecology to the management of wet and dry landscapes, and describes the hard-won lessons from decades of experience. This volume is a must-read for serious students, scholars, and practitioners of natural resource management."--Lance Gunderson, Emory University "The Science of Open Spaces presents an astonishing grasp of social, ecological, historic, and conservation knowledge, linking that interdisciplinary knowledge with the author's experiences with fishing and ranching communities in large-scale conservation contexts. He shows us how to make conservation work for people and nature amid complexity and change."--Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy
Charles Curtin is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, University of Montana, Missoula, where he will be developing programs for the Practitioners Network for Large Landscape Conservation. He is also Interim Director of the Mora Watershed Alliance in Mora, New Mexico, where he helped develop a landscape-level conservation program in the one million acre Mora Watershed in north-western New Mexico. He was previously the director of the Resilience Design Group in the Department of Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England, in Keene, New Hampshire.
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Using his broad ranging experiences, he tries to identify the recurrent patterns in landscape scale project across these different geographies seeking out common strategies and ways to sustain them. He calls out the need to go beyond conventional research in ecology and conservation and understand the social dynamism in which these ecosystem exists.
It would be impossible to summarize the range of theoretical mountains that the book traverses as it pursues a foundational basis for the field of landscape scale conservation. However, every reader will appreciate the well-presented case studies and for those who have worked in the trenches struggling with landscape scale conservation efforts, I guarantee there will be many aha moments.
Living Landscape Observer
The section "Cognition as an emergent process" (pp. 124-126) is a good example of what bothers me about Curtin's book. It's filled with trendy complexity jargon and quotes several erudite sources, but as an argument the conclusions are not related to the information presented. The section is intended to buttress his call for collaborative conservation by reference to basic human cognition. It begins with a discussion of the "Santiago theory of cognition", although the theory is very vaguely described: "the mind is not a thing, but a process...knowledge and meaning are understood from a biological and evolutionary standpoint...in essence, the mind is the specific structure through which cognitive processes operate...the human mind, then, is essentially a complex adaptive system with hierarchical organization...the knower essentially becomes a complex agent within a self-maintaining framework...a few simple rules lead to the emergent processes and interactions by which decision making, collective action, and learning emerge" (the "few simple rules" are neither listed nor described).
From this brief sketch of one theory of cognition, Curtin claims a "theoretical foundation for three fundamental premises", none of which are directly related to the cognitive theory alluded to: "First, that successful transformations toward effective science and policy tend to emerge from informal networks that help facilitate information flows, identify knowledge gaps, and create nodes of expertise. Second, joint understanding of processes in commonly held conceptual or mechanistic models is essential for developing the common ground necessary to generate effective action in response to challenges as they emerge [there's emergence again!]. Third, collaborative approaches are essential for building the social capital needed to sustainably address challenges in large and complex systems."
The reader emerges [!] from this section overwhelmed with jargon and concepts that seem somehow related to conservation science and policy, but the argument is neither logical nor persuasive if analyzed. The argument is: A) human cognition involves a network of interacting units (neurons) and feedback, therefore B) effective science and policy require a network of interacting people and feedback. This is an argument from analogy, and while B) seems reasonable, even obvious, it doesn't follow from A). Much of Curtin's book uses the same strategy of larding the text with emotive jargon ("emergent", "complex", "transformative", "sustainable"), with allusions to scientific studies not always relevant, while ultimately making rather simple points: good land management needs good information, communication, concepts, governance, and long-term funding.
Curtin's over-use of the jargon of complexity theory is especially jarring because applying complexity theory to ecosystems and society has a number of problems, neither recognized nor addressed in the book. He uncritically embraces such concepts as emergence and self-organization in ecological and social systems, and uses them in contexts for which they were never intended (e.g. "emergent science"). Curtin defines a complex system as "one in which numerous independent elements continuously interact and spontaneously organize and reorganize themselves into more elaborate structures over time--basically all living and most social systems...Such systems can be said to have emergent properties when the whole is usually greater than the sum of its parts. This self-organization is a fundamental property of physical and biological systems, from flocks of birds to schools of fish. A few simple rules explain many of the complex and beautiful patterns found in nature" (p.112-113). This is a misleading summary of complex systems theory, which recognizes that systems vary along a wide spectrum of integration and cybernetic control, from a container of gas molecules to an organism with an immune system and homeostasis. The self-organization illustrated by a flock of birds which follow a "few simple rules" (steer towards one's neighbors' average position) is a special case of "emergent behavior" in a particular type of complex system, not a universal property of complex systems. But throughout his book Curtin uncritically assumes that ecosystems and social systems are of this type. For example, "Resilience theory applies a systems approach to find common denominators that link social and ecological perspectives and that lead to simple rules that promote emergent sustainability-promoting outcomes" (p.154). No such simple rules are ever described, nor is it plausible that sustaining human pressure on the planet is a matter of following a few simple rules.
The assertion that ecosystems are "complex" is uninformative: virtually every thing in the universe consists of numerous parts which interact to some degree; it's a challenge to find something really simple. Similarly "system" is a rather empty term, meaning a collection of interacting entities somewhat isolated from its environment. A more substantial claim is that ecosystems are "complex adaptive systems", with such organismal characteristics as adaptation, anticipation, and learning, as exemplified by an immune system . These theoretical systems are said to appear at the "edge of chaos" as the parameters of their model equations are tuned to particular values . In an influential paper cited by Curtin, Simon Levin argues that properties of ecosystems (such as food webs and nutrient flows) emerge at higher levels from interactions and processes acting at lower levels as a result of the self-organization common to complex adaptive systems. He claims that "the recognition of the biosphere and of its constituent ecosystems as complex adaptive systems is an essential step to explaining ecosystem-level regularities and homeostasis" (p.432). I strongly disagree with this perspective, which results from blurring the distinction between real entities in the world and human concepts used to interpret the world.
"Ecosystem" itself is a human concept: in the world are myriad organisms interacting with one another and the physical environment; which collection of those organisms we call an ecosystem is a human decision, and an ecosystem can be investigated at any scale, from a drop of water to the entire biosphere. The properties that emerge in these human-defined systems are likewise human concepts--food webs, nutrient flows, stability, resilience--and these will vary with the scale at which we define the ecosystem. It is especially inappropriate to attribute organismic properties like health and cybernetic self-regulation to ecosystems. Some organisms are harmed and some benefited by any event or process (e.g. fire benefits grasses and harms woody seedlings; phosphorus input to lakes benefits algae and harms fishes), and it's not clear what change or process is a benefit to the whole system. Ecosystem self-regulation is often portrayed as negative feedback, such as the interactions of grass cover and fire in maintaining grassland, but it’s only when we humans specify a desired state--savanna, for example--that grass growth, lightning, and woody seedling mortality constitute cybernetic control rather than simply a causally-linked set of events. A large and contentious literature in the philosophy of science debates the emergence of novel properties in systems and the possibility of “downward causation” from one hierarchical level to a lower level. There are many conceptual pitfalls and no consensus of opinion . Emergence, self-organization, health, and resilience are terms with narrow and specific meanings, and should be used sparingly and with caution; unfortunately Curtin uses them liberally and often inappropriately.
The chapter in which Curtin relates his experience with the Malpai Borderlands Group suffers from petty polemics aimed at the people who pulled the plug on his research project at McKinney Flats in the bootheel of New Mexico, and overblown statements about the value of the research. This critique will analyze one such statement:
"McKinney's experimental research and related studies also changed perceptions about Southwest ecosystems by showing that large native grazers such as pronghorn perform a far more important role than previously thought in structuring the vegetation of desert grasslands, an insight that continues to have significant implications for land tenure and ecosystem health across vast regions of the West" (p.50).
As evidence for this statement he references his 2008 Desert Plants monograph , in which he presents results from measuring plant species number and cover in twenty 36m x 36m plots. There were 5 treatments, in which different sizes of wire mesh excluded cows, deer and pronghorns, rabbits and hares, small mammals, and an unfenced control. The 20 plots were divided among burned and unburned blocks, so each treatment had 2 replicates. The figure below from the monograph illustrates the effects of various animal exclosures on Fisher's alpha diversity of the vegetation under burning and no burning. Fisher's alpha diversity is a dimensionless index that integrates species diversity (number of species) and species evenness (relative proportions of individuals among species).
Pronghorn were excluded from the Cow/Deer, C/D/Rab, and C/D/R/SmM treatments. The figure shows that, in 2 of the 6 treatments that excluded pronghorns, the alpha diversity index was greater by more than one standard error than in the treatments in which pronghorns had access. This effect was true of the No Burning treatments only, unless small mammals were also excluded, in which case the alpha diversity of burned plots was significantly less than in the other treatments. So the message is: on un-burned land, let the pronghorns in and you get less plant diversity and evenness. If the land is burned, pronghorns have no effect, but species diversity and evenness will decline if you exclude small mammals.
Curtin states in the Desert Plants article that "there are approximately 15 to 20 pronghorn antelopes across the site." There is no evidence presented that any of this small number of animals ever actually visited any of the eight 36m x 36m study plots to which they had access (at 4 of them the pronghorn would have had to jump over or crawl through the cattle fence to get at the vegetation). He touts the McKinney Flat project as the "largest replicated terrestrial ecological experiment on the continent", comprising 8800 acres. With this much territory to roam, the probability is low that 15 or 20 pronghorn ever grazed the 8 tiny plots accessible to them during the 7 year life of the study with enough intensity to alter the number or evenness of species.
Curtin attempts an explanation of the reduced alpha diversity in the presence of pronghorns on unburned land by stating,"in contrast to cattle they have a higher proportion of forbs in their diet." However, no data is presented to show that forbs are less common in the plots accessible to pronghorns, even though this data was collected, nor does he offer an explanation for why pronghorn grazing had no effect on alpha diversity on burned land.
In summary, Curtin makes a sweeping statement about the structuring influence of pronghorns on desert grassland vegetation "across vast areas of the West" based on the results of sampling twenty 36m x 36m plots, from 12 of which pronghorn were excluded. Of this 12, only 6 showed possible effects of pronghorn exclusion on vegetation structure, and of these 6, four were apparently affected more by small mammal exclusion than by pronghorn exclusion. Curtin's paradigm-shifting "insight" rests on contrasting the results from 2 unburned pronghorn exclosure plots to the results from 4 unburned pronghorn-accessible plots, with no evidence that pronghorns ever visited the latter. The data are far more likely explained as coincidence, that the 2 plots happened to have a higher number of plant species and/or evenness because of soil factors or simple spatial heterogeneity. But this prosaic conclusion would not have "changed perceptions about Southwest ecosystems", the real goal of Curtin's work.