Earth Stewardship, Socioecosystems, the Need for a Transdisciplinary Approach and the Role of the International Long Term Ecological Research Network (ILTER)

  • Manuel MaassEmail author
  • Miguel Equihua
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 2)


The way we see ourselves and understand the world we live in guides and determines the types of solutions we are designing and implementing to deal with our global change problems. System thinking is helping us to recognize humanity as complex, self-organized, multi-level, and highly integrated socio-bio-physical entities that we refer to as socioecosystems. This new ontological paradigm requires new epistemological tools, and transdisciplinary research is inducing changes in different aspects of our scientific endeavor, including: the philosophical approach we use to observe our world; the level of commitment we put in our scientific work; the extent and scope we envision in our research goals; the geographical scale and context in which we focus our case-studies; the type of collaboration we engage in with other scientists; and the institutional arrangements we construct to accomplish our research efforts. The International Long Term Ecological Research Network (ILTER) includes national-level networks of scientists engaged and committed to conducting long-term and site-based ecological and socio-economic research and monitoring, with a strong interest in capacity building. ILTER members have expertise in the collection, management, and analysis of long-term environmental data and, together, they are responsible for creating and maintaining a large number of unique long-term datasets. ILTER has been a natural partner for global initiatives dealing with environmental issues, and many members of its community have been participating in these international programs. We should not underestimate the urgency, nor the level of commitment, required to foster worldwide socioecosystem research with a transdisciplinary approach, which are essential for the success of the sustainable Earth Stewardship initiative.


Capacity building Coupled socio-ecological systems Epistemological paradigm Long-term ecological research Socioecosystems Transdisciplinary research 



The authors thank Ricardo Rozzi for his invitation to participate in this volume. Also, commentaries on the text by Antonio Zirión, Terry Chapin and Ricardo Rozzi, as well as the English revision by Roy May were very useful and highly appreciated. Lyliana Rentería, Raúl Ahedo and Atzimba López helped with the preparation of the manuscript. The document was prepared during a visit by Manuel Maass to the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) with a DGAPA-UNAM sabbatical scholarship and within CONACYT support for ILTER.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Ecosystem Research (CIEco)Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)MoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de EcologíaA.C. (INECOL)XalapaMexico

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