Our species has transitioned from being one among millions on Earth to the species that is single-handedly transforming the entire planet to suit its own needs. In order to meet the daunting challenges of environmental sustainability in this epoch of human domination—known as the Anthropocene—ecologists have begun to think differently about the interdependencies between humans and the natural world. This concise and accessible book provides the best available introduction to what this new ecology is all about—and why it matters more than ever before.
The book describes how the science of ecology is evolving to provide a better understanding of how human agency is shaping the natural world, often in never-before-seen ways. The new ecology emphasizes the importance of conserving species diversity, because it can offer a portfolio of options to keep our ecosystems resilient in the face of environmental change. It envisions humans taking on new roles as thoughtful stewards of the environment to ensure that ecosystems have the enduring capacity to supply the environmental services on which our economic well-being—and our very existence—depend. It offers the ecological know-how to maintain and enhance our planet’s environmental performance and ecosystem production for the benefit of current and future generations. (Description from the publisher Princeton University Press, 2016)
Oswald Schmitz is the Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology, in the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He studies the linkage between two important components of natural systems: biodiversity and ecosystem services. His research evaluates how to rethink conservation strategies by considering species as part of a natural portfolio. This portfolio represents a wealth of potential alternatives to contemporary technologically intensive and expensive approaches in environmental management.