Nature, Culture, and Natureculture: The Role of Nonnative Species in Biocultures

  • Daniel SimberloffEmail author
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 3)


“Nature” and “culture” are defined variously. The dualist end of a spectrum sees “culture” as consisting of humans and their products and “nature” as comprising whatever is unaffected by humans. The other end sees but one “natureculture” integrating humans, other animals, and plants, and considers “nature” an artifact that humans construct in their observations and discussions. A bioculture is a local collection of humans, other species, and their interactions. Nonnative species can thus be parts of biocultures and may even replace native species to form new biocultures. To the extent that interactions among species arise through long processes of evolution and coevolution, a new bioculture thus formed will likely differ substantially from the previous one. Whether there are characteristic types of differences between such new biocultures and ones unaffected by nonnative species is an unexplored topic, just as is the question of whether novel ecosystems dominated by nonnative species characteristically differ from long-standing ones barely affected by humans. Whether we lament the loss of traditional biocultures probably depends largely on our perception and deep appreciation of the long sweeps of time underpinning much evolution and coevolution. A similar difference probably underlies conflicts between those who deplore ecological changes and local species extinctions wrought by nonnative species and those who accept, welcome, or even advocate producing them.


Artifact Coevolution Ecological fitting Globalization Novel ecosystem 



Mary Tebo, Christy Leppanen, and Tony Ricciardi contributed many thoughtful comments on an early draft of this manuscript.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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