Importance of Integrated Approaches and Perspectives [chapter]

Steward T.A. Pickett, Mary L. Cadenasso, Peter M. Groffman, J. Morgan Grove
2012 Urban-Rural Interfaces  
Ecology has traditionally neglected the role of people as components of ecosystems, and in particular has been largely absent from urban and other densely settled and built ecosystems. However, ecologists have finally come to realize that people and their effects are part of both seemingly wild and clearly urban ecosystems. This recognition has called for increased integration between the social sciences and biophysical sciences. This novel integration has exploited the increasingly important
more » ... terfaces between urban and rural or wild systems. The frameworks of (i) patch dynamics, (ii) the watershed, and (iii) the human ecosystem concept have supported integrated research, education, and community engagement. The chapter uses the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, Long-Term Ecological Research program to exemplify how these frameworks are used to formulate and answer questions shared by social and biophysical sciences. Furthermore, shared research and restoration sites, and a shared concern with neighborhood quality of life, environmental quality, and ultimately with urban sustainability continue to promote integration across disciplines and embed socio-ecological research and education in the decision making and community life of Baltimore. In the past, most ecologists focused their research on places where people were absent, rare, or at least inconspicuous. This focus generated a powerful body of knowledge that permits understanding of forests, deserts, grasslands, and fields in terrestrial environments, and an equally broad understanding of estuaries, lakes, streams, wetlands, and bogs among aquatic habitats. The reasons for this bias against sites in which people play a predominant role are many. There is the legitimate desire to understand how evolution and ecological interactions, on their own, have generated resilient systems (Thompson, 1982) . There is the desire to know how self-organizing communities and ecosystems come to be and how they change through time (Walker, 1999) . There are also more personal concerns-the pleasure in working in inspiring landscapes or places where a wilderness challenge must be overcome to investigate them successfully. There is perhaps also a fear that people represent a case of messy and capricious causality, one that will not expose law-like regularities. Whatever the reasons, the biases and pleasures of the majority of S.T.A Pickett, Cary Inst. of Ecosystem Studies, Box AB, 2801 Sharon Tpke., Millbrook, NY 12545 (; M.L. Cadenasso,
doi:10.2136/2012.urban-rural.c14 fatcat:z7tpzqwcrncwdpzslrcswk32di