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Human Ecology

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Changes in the Landscape of Arctic Traditional Food Last Updated on 2013-10-21 23:45:06 This article, written by Tim Lougheed*, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by Encyclopedia of Earth editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the Encyclopedia of Earth.   The Changing Landscape of Arctic Traditional Food The earliest European explorers seeking a northwest passage to Asia did not know what to make of the indigenous inhabitants they encountered in what is now Canada. In the 1500s, Martin Frobisher thought they were Asians and took a number as slaves; none survived more than a few weeks in captivity. Later adventurers acquired a profound respect for the knowledge that had enabled Inuit (“the... More »
Anthropogenic biomes Last Updated on 2013-09-03 12:25:31 Anthropogenic biomes describe globally-significant ecological patterns within the terrestrial biosphere caused by sustained direct human interaction with ecosystems, including agriculture, urbanization, forestry and other land uses. Conventional biomes, such as tropical rainforests or grasslands, are based on global vegetation patterns related to climate. Now that humans have fundamentally altered global patterns of ecosystem form, process, and biodiversity, anthropogenic biomes provide a contemporary view of the terrestrial biosphere in its human-altered form. Anthropogenic biomes may also be termed "anthromes" to distinguish them from conventional biome systems, or "human biomes" (a simpler but less precise term). Humans are the ultimate ecosystem engineers, routinely reshaping ecosystem form and process using tools and technologies, such as fire, that are... More »
Global human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) Last Updated on 2013-09-03 12:01:37 Humanity’s impact on the biosphere’s structures (e.g., land cover) and functioning (e.g., biogeochemical cycles) is considerable. It exceeds natural variability in many cases. Sanderson and others have classified up to 83% of the global terrestrial biosphere as being under direct human influence, based on geographic proxies such as human population density, settlements, roads, agriculture and the like; another study, by Hannah et al., estimates that about 36% of the Earth’s bioproductive surface is “entirely dominated by man”. HANPP, the “human appropriation of net primary production,” is an aggregated indicator that reflects both the amount of area used by humans and the intensity of land use. NPP is the net amount of biomass produced each year by plants; it is a major indicator for trophic energy flows in ecosystems. HANPP measures to... More »
Mono Lake Last Updated on 2011-09-16 00:00:00 Mono Lake is a hypersaline lacustrine water body located in the Great Basin of the western USA. The lake is situated at the western base of the southern Sierra Mountains, and is unusually rich in a host of diverse minerals. This lake has experienced significant drawdown in lake levels and secondary salinization due to the rapidly expanding population in Southern California; however, conservation steps have been taken to limit future water extraction, in order to protect the lake ecology. With elevated pH level and a rich assortment of dissolved minerals, Mono Lake comprises a highly productive aquatic ecosystem, albeit of limited biodiversity. As a well defined stable basin, Mono Lake is arguably one ot the oldest lakes in North... More »
Historical extent of oaks, Sonoma County, California Last Updated on 2011-09-10 00:00:00 Oaks are intricately tied to the human history of Sonoma County, California. The impressive size of individual trees, and the extent and beauty of the lowland groves are common themes in our county’s historical records. Early writers often compared the valleys where oaks grew to a park, with open spaces between the trees and little understory . This is a testament to the natural vigor of the trees themselves, and to the stewardship of native peoples, who had been tending the land here for thousands of years. “We passed through an extremely large roblar (trees very tall and thick) . . . running 3 leagues [8 miles]east to west, and a league and a half [four miles] north to south” -- Jose Altimira, founder of the Sonoma Mission, describing Sonoma Valley in 1823. “the valleys are . . . sprinkled with oak trees, and it seems ever as if we were... More »