We at PERC are most excited to announce that Mark Davis will be giving a keynote presentation at the upcoming ‘Feral‘ conference. Mark is the DeWitt Wallace Professor of Biology at Macalester College, where he has been a faculty member since 1981. His research, writings, and presentations focus on the ecology of introduced species and the field of invasion biology. Mark is the author of Invasion Biology, and numerous journal articles. Below is the abstract for Mark’s presentation.
Defining Nature in a Globalizing World
In addition to the global movement of people and cultures, globalization involves the redistribution of non-human species throughout the world. Today many organisms once found only in particular regions of the world have been transported to new regions where they inhabit new ecosystems and interact with the long-term residents, often referred to as native species. In contrast, the transported species have commonly been described as aliens or exotics. In the fields of ecology and conservation the tendency has been to view the new arrivals as unwanted guests, species that threaten the native species and some of which threaten human health or cause economic harm. This preference for native species has sometimes been referred to as nativism. In the 1980s, three sub-disciplines of ecology emerged—restoration ecology, conservation biology, and invasion biology—and all three embraced the nativism paradigm. By the early 2000s, historians, sociologists, and philosophers interested in the development of science began to examine the growing field of invasion biology and usually were critical of it. In the past few years, a new perspective has been taking hold in the field of ecology. Referred to as ‘ecological novelty’ it emphasizes that many factors are producing ecologically novel environments. A much more simply descriptive concept, it is currently competing with the nativism paradigm to define nature. Whether the nativism or ecological novelty paradigm emerges as the dominant perspective going forward will determine how nature and biodiversity are managed.