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Eco-fusion of Alien and Native as a New Conceptual Framework for Historical Ecology

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Environmental History in the Making

Part of the book series: Environmental History ((ENVHIS,volume 6))

Abstract

Rapidly emerging, often-critical issues of changing ecology and ecosystems result from urbanisation, globalisation, climate change, and human cultural influences. Long-term nature-human interactions in agriculture and forestry, and increasing influence of urbanisation and other environmental changes (Freedman B, Environmental ecology – the effects of pollution, disturbance and other stresses, 2nd edn. Academic, San Diego, 1995), force and facilitate hybridisation of nature. With accelerating globalisation and human-induced and natural climate changes, hybridisation speeds up. Anthropogenic influences cause disturbance, nutrient enrichment, habitat replacement (through formation and destruction), and planetary-scale species dispersal (Rotherham ID, Eco-history: an introduction to biodiversity and conservation. The White Horse Press, Cambridge, 2014a; Douglas I, Goode D, Houck MC, Wang R (eds), The Routledge handbook of urban ecology. Routledge, London, 2011). Ecological processes driving the changes are ‘natural’ mechanisms of ecological succession and changes, and species and ecosystem hybridisation and adaptation. Mixing of species now occurs at a rate unprecedented in the history of biodiversity evolution. The so-called ‘Anthropocene’, the latest great evolutionary epoch is upon us with nature adapting to a new canvas and a changed template (Steffen W, Crutzen PJ, McNeill JR, AMBIO 36(8):614–621, 2007). Ecological fusion or ‘eco-fusion’ describes the dynamic and ongoing process through which species deemed to be ‘native’ or ‘alien’ in particular locations or regions, interact to form newly combined ecological groups. Some species are acquired into these novel communities and others, formerly established, are displaced (Hobbs RJ, Higgs ES, Hall CM (eds), Novel ecosystems. Intervening in the new ecological world order. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, 2013). In this chapter, these issues are introduced and discussed with particular reference to the case study of the British Isles. The novel concepts of recombinant ecologies, ecological fusion and hybrid nature are explained and the concepts are considered in relation to current debates about future ecologies and ideas of so-called, re-wilding.

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Rotherham, I.D. (2017). Eco-fusion of Alien and Native as a New Conceptual Framework for Historical Ecology. In: Vaz, E., Joanaz de Melo, C., Costa Pinto, L. (eds) Environmental History in the Making. Environmental History, vol 6. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-41085-2_5

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