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Philip Dearden
Bruce Mitchell
BOX1.4 What You Can Do: Getting Started on Reducing Your Impact
BOX2.11 What You Can Do: Learning about Your Local Ecosystems
p. 78
BOX3.8 What You Can Do: Caring for Your Ecosystem
BOX4.11 What You Can Do: Taking Individual Action Every Day
p. 147
BOXS.2 What You Can Do: Taking Initiative to Enhance Planning and
Management of Natural Resources and the Environment

BOX6.7 What You Can Do: Taking Initiative to Enhance Procedures and Methods p. 193
for Natural Resource and Environmental Management

BOX7.6 What You Can Do: Taking Action on Climate Change p. 236

BOX8.9 What You Can Do: Supporting Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Fisheries p. 280

BOX9.12 What You Can Do: Protecting the Health of Forests p. 321

BOX10.9 What You Can Do: Food Awareness p. 362

What You Can Do: Ten Water Conservation Initiatives p. 404

TABLE 11.1
BOX12.5 What You Can Do: Taking Action to Reduce Energy Use
BOX13.7 What You Can Do: Greening Your Town or City
p. 503
BOX14.8 What You Can Do: Helping Protect Endangered Species
p. 521
BOX14.13 What You Can Do: Supporting Protected Areas

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EnvifOll lllental
A Canadian Perspective
Philip Dearden
Bruce Mitchell


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Environmental change & challenge : a Canadian perspective / Philip Dearden, Bruce Mitchell. - Fifth edition.

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PA RT A Introduction 1
CHAPTER ONE Environment, Resources, and Society 3
Domestic Guest Statement: Some Reflections on Social-Ecological Resilience 14
Ryan Plummer (Brock)
International Guest Statement: Urban Development Challenges and Human Living
Conditions in Cities in Developing Countries 22
Peter Adeniyi (Lagos)

PART 8 The Ecosphere 40

CHAPTER TWO Energy Flows and Ecosystems 45
International Guest Statement: Apex Predators and Tiger Conservation in Thailand 58
Anak Pattanavibool (Kasetsart University, Thailand)
Domestic Guest Statement: Landscape Ecology 69
Chris Malcolm (Brandon)

CHAPTER THREE Ecosystems Are Dynamic 82

Domestic Guest Statement: How Will Forests Respond to Rising Atmospheric
Carbon Dioxide? 87
Ze'ev Gedalof (Guelph) and Aaron Berg (Guelph)
International Guest Statement: The Roles of Elephants and Logging in Tropical Rain
Forest Dynamics 101
Aerin Jacob (Victoria)

CHAPTER FOUR Ecosystems and Matter Cycling 113

International Guest Statement: Action-Oriented Research on Community Recycling
in Sao Paulo, Brazil 115
Jutta Gutberlet (Victoria)
Domestic Guest Statement: Feedbacks between the Carbon Cycle and Climate 129
Kirsten Zickfeld (Simon Fraser)

PA RT c Planning and Management: Perspectives, Processes,

and Methods 152
CHAPTER FIVE Planning and Management Perspectives 156
Domestic Guest Statement: Planning Challenges Related to Flood Management
in Canada 158
Dan Shrubsole (Western)
Contents Overview

International Guest Statement: Downloading Responsibilities for .

Protection in China - Good or Not? 160 Environmental
Taiyang Zhong (Nanjing, China)

Planning and Management: Processes and Methods

Domestic Guest Statement: How Collaboration Can Support p
rotected A
Joslyn Sp~rgeon (Ontario) . . rea Planning
International Guest Statement: Mainstreaming Sustainable De l 174
Development Planning and Policy-Making: The Challenges ofvSetoprn~nt Principles into
. . rateg,c Env
Assessment in Indonesia 182 ironrnental
Bakti Setiawan (Gadjah Mada, Indonesia)

PART D Resource and Environmental Management in Canada

CHAPTER SEVEN Climate Change 201
International Guest Statement: Responding to Climate Change: Perspectives f
China 219 rom
Yong Geng (Shanghai Jiaotong, China)
Domestic Guest Statement: Global Policy Challenges 233
Barry Smit (University of Guelph)

CHAPTER EIGHT Oceans and Fisheries 240

International Guest Statement: The Rise and Fall of Industrial Fisheries 248
Daniel Pauly (UBC)
Domestic Guest Statement: Public and Political Will Needed to Protect Our Oceans 77
Sabine Jessen (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society)

CHAPTER NINE Forests 284

Domestic Guest Statement: Forest Ownership. Forest Stewardship, Community
Sustainability 293
Kevin Hanna (UBC)
International Guest Statement: The Amazon Rain Forest 318
Oliver Coomes (McGill)

CHAPTER TEN Agriculture 326

International Guest Statement: Life at the Crossroads for African Pastorali sts:
How Climate Change Threatens the Existence of the Maasai 331
Philip Osano (Stockholm Environment Institute)
Domestic Guest Statement: Perspectives on Food Security 361
Ashley Mcinnes (Guelph) and Evan D.G. Fraser (Guelph)


Domestic Guest Statement: Thinking Like a Watershed: Fresh Ideas, Laws. a
Institutions in a Changing Water World 369
Oliver M. Brandes (Victoria)
International Guest Statement: A Land of Flood and Drought
Katheryn Bellette (South Australian Government)
Contents Overview vii

CHAPTER TWELVE Minerals and Energy 409

International Guest Statement: Energy Transition and Social Power 421
Gavin Bridge (Durham, UK)
Domestic Guest Statement: Capturing Carbon for Enhanced Oil Recovery:
A Climate Change Strategy? 438
Emily Eaton (Regina)

CHAPTER THIRTEEN Urban Environmental Management 446

International Guest Statement: Revitalizing Urban Streams 454
Mee Kam Ng (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Domestic Guest Statement: Managing tor Urban Resilience-Recovery, Resistance
and "Bouncing Forward" 457
Meg Holden (Simon Fraser)

CHAPTER FOURTEEN Endangered Species and Protected Areas 477

International Guest Statement: Protected Areas and the International Agenda 502
Stephen Woodley (International Union for the Conservation of Nature)
Domestic Guest Statement: Tribal Parks in Clayoquot and Beyond: Forwarding
Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas in a Canadian Context 519
Eli Enns (ICCA Consortium)

PART E Environmental Change and Challenge in Canada 524

CHAPTER FIFTEEN Making It Happen 526
Domestic Guest Statement: A Generation of Possibility 539
Skye Augustine (Salish Sea Research Center, Northwest Indian College)
Domestic Guest Statement: The Power of Fossil Fuel Divestment 540
James Rowe (Victoria), Jessica Dempsey (Victoria), Peter Gibbs (Organize BC), and Kelsey Mech
(Canadian Youth Climate Coalition)
Preface xv
Features xvii
Acknowledgements xx

About the Authors xxi

PA RT A Introduction 1
Environment, Resources , and Society 3
Introduction: Change and Challenge 3
Defining Environment and Resources 5
Three Waves Regarding Approaches to Environmental
Management 5
Alternative Approaches to Understanding Complex Natural
and Socio-economic Systems 6
Science-Based Management of Resources and
Environment 7
War on Science? 8
The Northern Gateway Proposal 9
Wicked Problems 12
Sustainable Development and Resilience 12
The Global Picture 13
Domestic Guest Statement: Some Reflections on Social-Ecological Resilience 14
Ryan Plummer (Brock)
International Guest Statement: Urban Development Challenges and Human Living Conditions
in Cities in Developing Countries 22
Peter Adeniyi (Lagos)
Jurisdictional Arrangements for Environmental Management in Canada 28
Measuring Progress 29
Implications 34
Summary 37
KeyTerms 38
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 38
Related Websites 39
Further Readings 39

PART B The Ecosphere 40

Energy Flows and Ecosystems 45
Introduction 45
Energy 46
Energy Flows in Ecological Systems 49
International G ts
. ues tatement: Apex Predators and Tiger
Conservation tn Thailand 58
Anak Pattanavibool (Kasetsart University, Thailand)
Ecosystem Structure 61
Abiotic Components 62
Do~estic Guest Statement: Landscape Ecology 69
ns Malcolm (Brandon)
Biodiversity 70
Implications 78
Summary 79
Detailed Contents ix

KeyTerms BO
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking BO
Related Websites Bl
Further Readings Bl

CHAPTER THREE Ecosystems Are Dynamic 82

Introduction 82
Ecological Succession 83
Domestic Guest Statement: How Will Forests Respond to Rising
Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide? 87
Ze'ev Gedalof (Guelph) and Aaron Berg (Guelph)
Changing Ecosystems 91
Population Growth 98
International Guest Statement: The Roles of Elephants and Logging
in Tropical Rain Forest Dynamics 101
Aerin Jacob (Victoria)
Evolution. Speciation, and Extinction 102
Implications 109
Summary 110
Key Terms 111
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 112
Related Websites 112
Further Readings 112

CHAPTER FOUR Ecosystems and Matter Cycling 113

Introduction 113
Matter 114
Biogeochemical Cycles 114
International Guest Statement: Action-Oriented Research on
Community Recycling in Sao Paulo, Brazil 115
Jutta Gutberlet (Victoria)
The Hydrological Cycle 128
Domestic Guest Statement: Feedbacks between the Carbon Cycle
and Climate 129
Kirsten Zickfeld (Simon Fraser)
Biogeochemical Cycles and Human Activity 134
Implications 149
Summary 149
Key Terms 150
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 151
Related Websites 151
Further Readings 151

PART C Planning and Management: Perspectives, Process, and Methods 152

CHAPTER FIVE Planning and Management Perspectives 156
Introduction 156
Planning and Management Components 157
Domestic Guest Statement: Planning Challenges Related to Flood
Management in Canada 158
Dan Shrubsole (Western)
International Guest Statement: Downloading Responsibilities for
Environmental Protection in China - Good or Not? 160
Taiyang Zhong (Nanjing, China)
X Detailed Contents

Implications 168
Summary 169
Key Terms 170
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 170
Related Websites 171
Further Readings 171

CHAPTER SIX Planning and Management: Processes and

Methods 172
Introduction 172
Collaboration and Coordination 173
Stakeholders and Participatory Approaches 173
Domestic Guest Statement: How Collaboration Can Support
Protected Area Planning 174
Joslyn Spurgeon (Ontario)
Communication 177
Adaptive Management 178
Impact and Risk Assessment 180
International Guest Statement: Mainstreaming Sustainable Development
Principles into Development Planning and Policy-Making: The Challenges
of Strategic Environmental Assessment in Indonesia 182
Bakti Setiawan (Gadjah Mada, Indonesia)
Dispute Resolution 186
Regional and Land-Use Planning 192
Implementation Barriers 192
Implications 193
Summary 194
Key Terms 195
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 195
Related Websites 196
Further Readings 196

PART D Resource and Environmental Management in Canada 198

CHAPTER SEVEN Climate Change 201
Introduction 201
Nature of Climate Change 202
Scientific Evidence Related to Climate Change 204
Modelling Climate Change 207
Scientific Explanations 209
Implications of Climate Change 210
Communicating Global Change 217
International Guest Statement: Responding to Climate Change:
Perspectives from China 219
Yong Geng (Shanghai Jiaotong, China)
Kyoto Protocol 221
Policy and Action Options 231
Domestic Guest Statement: Global Policy Challenges 233
Barry Smit (University of Guelph)
Summary 236
Key Terms 237
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 237
Related Websites 238
Further Readings 239
Detailed Contents xi

CHAPTER EIGHT Oceans and Fisheries 240

Introduction 240
Oceanic Ecosystems 241
Ocean Management Challenges 246
International Guest Statement: The Rise and Fall of Industrial
Fisheries 248
Daniel Pauly (UBC)
Global Responses 260
Canada's Oceans and Fisheries 261
Aboriginal Use of Marine Resources 270
Pollution 273
Some Canadian Responses 275
Domestic Guest Statement: Public and Political Will Needed to
Protect Our Oceans 277
Sabine Jessen (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society)
Aquaculture 277
Implications 280
Summary 281
Key Terms 282
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 282
Related Websites 282
Further Readings 283

CHAPTER NINE Forests 284

Canada's Boreal Forest 284
An Overview of Canada's Forests 286
Forest Management Practices 292
Domestic Guest Statement: Forest Ownership, Forest Stewardship,
Community Sustainability 293
Kevin Hanna (UBC)
Environmental and Social Impacts of Forest Management
Practices 301
New Forestry 312
Canada's National Forest Strategies 314
Global Forest Strategies 315
Intern ational Guest Statement: The Amazon Rain Forest 318
Oliver Coomes (McGill)
Implications 317
Summary 322
Key Terms 324
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 324
Related Websites 324
Further Readings 325

CHAPTER TEN Agriculture 326

Introduction 326
International Guest Statement: Life at the Crossroads for African
Pastoralists: How Climate Change Threatens the Existence of
the Maasai 331
Philip Osano (Sto ckholm Environment Institute)
Agriculture as an Ecological Process 332
Modern Farming System s in t he Industrialized World 334
Trends in Canadian Agriculture 341
Environmental Challenges fo r Canad ian Agri culture 343

Sustainable Food Production Systems 356

Organic Farming 358
Local Agriculture 359
Implications 360
Domestic Guest Statement: Perspectives on Food Security 361
Ashley Mcinnes (Guelph) and Evan D.G. Fraser (Guelph)
Summary 363
Key Terms 364
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 364
Related Websites 365
Further Readings 365


Introduction 367
Human Interventions in the Hydrological Cycle: Water
Diversions 368
Domestic Guest Statement: Thinking Like a Watershed :
Fresh Ideas, Laws, and Institutions in a Changing
Water World 369
Oliver M. Brandes (Victoria)
Water Quality 377
Sydney Tar Ponds, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia 378
Water Security: Protecting Quantity and Quality 384
Water as Hazard 393
International Guest Statement: A Land of Flood and Drought 397
Katheryn Bellette (South Australian Government)
Heritage Rivers 399
Hydrosolidarity 400
Water Ethics 402
Implications 403
Summary 405
Key Terms 406
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 407
Related Websites 407
Further Readings 408
CHAPTER TWELVE Minerals and Energy 409
Introduction 409
Framing Issues and Questions 410
Non-Renewable Resources in Canada:
Basic Information 411
Potash in Saskatchewan 412
Developing a Diamond Mine: Ekati, NWT 412
Energy Resources 420
International Guest Statement: Energy Transition and Social
Power 421
Gavin Bridge (Durham, UK)
Domestic Guest Statement: Capturing Carbon for Enhanced
Oil Recovery: A Climate Change Strategy? 438
Emily Eaton (Regina)
Detailed Contents xiii

Implications 441
Summary 442
Key Terms 444
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 444
Related Websites 445
Further Readings 445

CHAPTER THIRTEEN Urban Environmental Management 446

Introduction 446
Sustainable Urban Development 447
Environmental Issues in Cities 450
International Guest Statement: Revitalizing Urban
Streams 454
Mee Kam Ng (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Vulnerability of Urban Areas to Natural and Human-Induced
Hazards 456
Domestic Guest Statement: Managing for Urban
Resilience-Recovery, Resistance and "Bouncing Forward" 457
Meg Holden (Simon Fraser)
Urban Sustainability 462
Best Practice for Urban Environmental Management 466
Implications 474
Summary 474
Key Terms 475
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 475
Related Websites 475
Further Readings 476

CHAPTER FOURTEEN Endangered Species and Protected Areas 477

Introduction 477
Valuing Biodiversity 479
Main Pressures Causing Extinction 482
Vulnerability to Extinction 494
Responses to the Loss of Biodiversity 496
Protected Areas 501
International Guest Statement: Protected Areas and the
International Agenda 502
Stephen Woodley (International Union for the Conservation
of Nature)
Implications 518
Domestic Guest Statement: Tribal Parks in Clayoquot and Beyond:
Forwarding Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas in a
Canadian Context 519
Eli Enns (ICCA Consortium)
Summary 521
Key Terms 522
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 522
Related Websites 523
Further Readings 523
xiv Detail d ontent

p T Environmental Change and Challenge in Canada 524

CHAPTER FIFTEEN Mal ing It Happen 526
Introduction 526
Global Perspectives 527
National Perspectives 535
Personal Perspectives 538
Domestic Guest Statement: A Generation of Possibility 539
Skye Augustine (Salish Sea Research Center, Northwest
Indian College)
Domestic Guest Statement: The Power of Fossil Fuel
Divestment 540
James Rowe (Victoria), Jessica Dempsey (Victoria), Peter Gibbs
(Organize BC), and Kelsey Mech (Canadian Youth Climate Coalition)
The Law of Everybody 545
Implications 549
Summary 550
Key Terms 551
Questions for Review and Critical Thinking 551
Related Websites 551
Further Readings 552

Glossary 553
References 565
Index 587
hen we wrote the first edition of Environmental Change
W and Challenge almost two decades ago, it was already
becoming very obvious that the two themes of "change" and
constructs, and even the vast atmosphere and oceans reflect
human desires as they become increasingly choked by the
industrial wastes of a consumer society.
"challenge" were going to be major defining characteristics of There has never been a more critical time when humans
the twenty-first century. However, the speed and magnitude should know how the planet works and especially about the
with which change has occurred was often unanticipated. processes that drive our life-support system. But environ-
And with that rapid change have come massive challenges. mental management is not only about managing natural sys-
Scientists in the mid 1990s were well aware ofglobal climate tems; it is also about managing humans and our impacts on
change, but the speed of change was expected to be a concern these systems. This book was written with these twin goals in
for the next rather than this generation. The Arctic Ocean was mind: that students should gain a basic appreciation ofhow the
predicted to be ice-free in 50 to 100 years. However, following planet works and also understand the impacts of humanity on
the colossal ice losses over the last couple of years as positive these systems, the challenges created, and potential solutions.
feedback loops kicked in, that prediction has been revised to The book is also focused primarily on Canada. Canada is
within the next few years. a huge and beautiful country, one of the most magnificent
The challenges created by these and other changes will be places on Earth. Our geography, people, history, and polit-
profound and global. Sea levels will rise, communities will ical culture are different from those of the US and Europe.
be flooded, ocean currents will change, rainfall patterns will Canadians can and should also play a major role in what hap-
alter, crops will fail, and billions of lives will be affected. As pens globally in terms of the environment. We are the world's
we prepared this fifth edition, Canadians in Atlantic Canada second-largest country in terms of area. We are also a rich
had experienced record snowfalls in the winter of 2015, country. In general, our citizens have a high quality of life
while during the same period Quebec and Ontario experi- and value the environment, but we also create some of the
enced record-setting cold temperatures and British Columbia highest per capita impacts in the world in terms of carbon
and much of Alberta had well-above-average temperatures. dioxide emissions, water use, and waste production. Changes
Drought caused Alberta to declare the agricultural sector a need to take place. And those changes need to take place far
disaster in the summer of 2015 and thousands of people suc- more quickly than is currently the case. Our "leaders have
cumbed to heat exhaustion in India. In addition, plunging oil often been willing to make those changes only if they per-
prices in the second half of 2014 and through 2015, as well as ceive support for them. That support hinges on having a well-
the turmoil and resulting migrant crisis in the Middle East informed and active populace.
in Syria, Iraq, and Libya remind us that we must deal with We believe it is critical that university students leave our
change, uncertainly, complexity, and, often, conflict. universities when they graduate with a greater understand-
The reality of these changes is difficult for many people ing of the planetary ecosystems that support life and of their
to believe, since it counters many of our most deep-seated impacts on ecosystems, as well as an awareness of what soci-
beliefs. Treaties were signed with First Nations for "as long as ety and individuals can do to help improve the situation. If
the rains fall, as long as the rivers flow, as long as the winds all university graduates came out thus informed and acted
blow" because these were the immutable constructs of nature on this knowledge to create change in their own lifestyles
that were reliable. The Earth was also conceived as being so and society, the prognosis for the future would be a little
large that the impact of humans was trifling in comparison. more optimistic.
Photos of our lonely planet floating through space taken from This book was written for students taking a first course in
spacecraft helped to dispel this myth. environment to impart an understanding of the biosphere's
A fundamental change has taken place over the past couple function and to link basic environmental management prin-
of decades in the relationship between humans and our fra- ciples to environmental and resource problems in a Canadian
gile planet. No longer is the planet a vast and wild place where context. The hook provides both a basic background for those
change occurs on a geological time scale driven by natural who will go on to specialize in fields other than environment
forces; it has, in fact, become the "greenhouse" of the green- and a broad platform upon which more detailed courses on
house gas analogy in which wild nature is replaced by human environment can build later.
xvi Preface

Part A (Chapter 1) provides an overall introduction to Index, for example, is one international ind'
environment, resources, and society and the role of science, b een suggested as an alternative to measu icator that ha
. re progr s
both social and natural, in helping us to understand the rela- takes mto account not only level ofhuman well-bein ess that
tionship among them. This relationship is illustrated in more the costs of achieving that well-being. gbut also
detail by a case study, the Northern Gateway pipeline from In preparing the fifth edition we have
. ' given
Alberta to the northwest coast of British Columbia. We also 1ar attention to four aspects. First, throughout th Jart1cu.
provide a global and national context for environmental man- have updated information and insights to refl e 00k We
. ect event
agement and describe some approaches for assessing current research smce the fourth edition was publish d . s and
e in 2012
progress in dealing with environmental challenges. If we do Second, we have arranged for many guest stat
not know how we are doing, we can hardly judge with any to be written by new authors or to have pre etnen.ts
. ' v1ous auth0
degree of accuracy the severity of the problem or map out wnte brand-new guest statements or to have p . rs
' reVJ.ous a
suitable strategies to address the problem. ors update their guest statements. As a result 0 f h Uth.
, tetoat
Part B (Chapters 2-4) provides a basic primer on the of 30 guest statements in the fifth edition 1 are t
, 7 newguest
environmental processes that constitute the Earth's life- statements from new authors, three are new guest st t
a ements
support system. Primary emphasis is on energy flows, bio- from authors who had contributed guest statements
. . d .
geochemical cycles, and biotic responses, with reference to fiourt h e dition, an 10 are revised guest statements from a th
to the
Canadian examples wherever possible. A strong emphasis ors from the fourth edition. u
is placed both here and in subsequent sections on making Third, we have incorporated "integrative case studies
explicit links between these principles and examples illus- throughout the b?o~, to highlight the importance of taking an
trating the principles in action. ecosystem or holistic approach to resource and environmental
Part C (Chapters 5 and 6) reviews different approaches, pro- management issues. Examples are the Northern Gateway pipe-
cesses, and products that should characterize high-quality line in Chapter 1, the decline of the cod fishery in Chapter 8,
resource and environmental planning and management. the Sydney Tar Ponds remediation initiative in Chapter 11, and
Some refer to such attributes as elements of "best practice." a generic "water-energy-food" nexus example in Chapter 15.
Our hope is that by the end of these two chapters, you will Fourth, to highlight that we each should take responsibility
be able to develop a mental checklist of the attributes you for our actions, and become contributors to solutions, either
would expect to see used in planning and management and as individuals or as members of Canadian society, we have
that you would advocate either as a team member address- refreshed the "What You Can Do" boxes in each chapter, and
ing resource and environmental issues or as a member of also have sought to highlight opportunities through which
civil society. you can "make a difference."
Part D {Chapters 7-14) takes the basic science of Part Band Change and challenge are main themes of this book, and
the management approaches of Part C and puts them together fundamental changes are required in the way by which sod
by focusing on environmental and resource management ety manages itself to meet the challenges that lie ahea~. We
themes: climate change, oceans and fisheries, forests, agri- hope that this book will help in some small way to contribute
culture, water, minerals and energy, urban environmental to producing the more sustainable future that must evolve
management, and endangered species and protected areas. In over the next few years and encolJ,rage you, the reader, to
each chapter, we provide an overview of the current situation become part of making this future a reality. had
in Canada and the main management challenges. Selected As we go to press in late 2015 a new federal governm.e~~
IDJ.Slllg a
international examples also are provided. Text boxes high- been elected in October 2015. This government is pro . l d-
. . 1 1es inc u
light particular case studies of interest and also illustrate the very different way of approaching its respons1 .' n.t
. . . . M' t of Env1ronine
con.nectivity among the different themes. ing appointing a new Mm1ster, a mis er . r this
'bilittes 1or
The final section (Chapter 15) concludes the book with and Climate Change. Th,e ma,nd.te of iespons! . viron-
1... .11 , ngtmm1ster-en
views from three perspectives-global, national, and per- Minister can be seen at'"ttp,..,,,e . ly coll'
ment-and-climate-change-man date-letter and obvious raf
sonal. Here we emphasize solutions and the actions that . G t We enC!J'o"'
A ..

individuals can take in moving towards a more sustainable trasts relative to the preceding overnmen
. 'h 80roeo eyu--
f th _,,lit-
society and introduce the "Law of Everybody," suggesting that You to read this mandate, compare it wit m>vernrnent sta1
if everyone took a few conservation actions, they would add ical statements in the text, and he1p the new er
up to a massive contribution to the overall changes required. true to this mandate.
We question the ways in which values are taken into account 1 u-
pbizp n.ttrde
in much environmental decision-making and also the way in Bruce Mi
which development progress is measured. The Happy Planet
Isa AATC .,__, ..... Jh - - r - fwtt.-tn..f'-. ...tMrl._.

f ~FT ,...,."!'"

/)() 111:.,nr; r;t /:'ST .,'/'\Tf 1/f,; j,

Planmng Challenges Related to Flood Management In Ca nada I 0 ,1n .'Jli.nib,ol
Rood,.,..,........,1on9.~pot,1amW'IC...O..ln COlb fat ~ W\.IC~ Kl,.!5im.rb A shonc:orTwig wlU'I
.... ~ l ~ ~ t n r ' N f N l l ' l ~ I O ltr\lCU.lrlll~v.-notonty~dlgrad,-
ecldreUINlloodprot,r,,lnlll'ld.,_,.ot)-IUo.ntniiltMul In boribut.,ll'ltlNngu.,na.-.flooclOltnlgelol:Ml.dMo,llt
~ f u l u r t l o o O ~ D f ~ ~ ..... - ~ ot ~ ~ ... SffUtllnl ~ n.
ltwot N ~ , . _ ol U. ftoocl ptOblem .... ~ ~ Q)nlrN,ct,on .....~ b y ' ~ higher nood
,___,,. ....... , . . ~ r , , e ~ o , , . . . , . ~ t t l t i l - - w h a n ~ ~ ~ "
l r o O N d l ~ - ~ C l - r . 1 1 Wtwll.llthe
l'loodi:iront - - .tlCI"Wuetur.
work$ - supposeo II)
,...blWICltol~lhlilain~pt011KtJC)nlnd thPoagr..CIIIPKlt)'ot.,..,truaur.mMllnJ.
...,.....,,,_..-.aa ,e
WhMtnrr'Clll!dN~ CIF\ldl ~"""ob'""'' OI'\ WUCVlil """5t
- " ' - ~ ' t ridlhl1ongleffll-l,t W'\11 t"llll'IU ""'*' u. ~ Roocl 0.,,,.- Reduc~ Prog,Mn,,cltodl ~ - - "''""'*' ,n 1975 It promot9d ncN'lIIJutwrai
mMtdllftOll-'~~ftlood~'1 ~ ~ 'lh0lq'I u... ""-PP"'II ot flood P'IN,."IMIWDIOful\lnl.W'hWlnat wtw:fl could torm tN Mas ot W'odUM etgui,bON M.,...
a,,e'fdbJ'""*',o.,c,.e10..- MIINl;u"ll~Non-W\leturilllldl,ISffllel'ttS..,
~_,~~lnC.....a,.....,,.oo. moOlyturlll"t..,._.a\Cln*IOWf..ct\Nre,J,eyofNI
~.......,.dtllt5and-lN'iocMMIOf'IIIOOClp,a,t Ufaip,OC-..,& r'f1hff0\il'ltoffl0dlt)'Nb.nlp,oceuet,usr,g
-(S.mpt>Oto;r..,,_,,.,.,,.MftooCl()rClbWm$i'!~ Structur. ~ 0c,._. IIQ""Pib ot ncN'l!ll'UtU,.II
~IIIIMliU(& ~-J'JICllt~pn>- ~W'ldludeloocl~S)'$te'Nlndllffll!fVfflCY
~~Na:nw,,,c;Dol'I0,...,..,_,_0,.-S pWnrog 9 ~ ~ botl'I ~
-:iai.rwwt~iegAr~-"P" ..,,.._ ... Ca"IOI W f t l ~ ~ ~ t e C I I I V t
~IO~ffl0rew-~Q,Jldil.Tr..~ a,.o.,lit'"'5l""le'U--*111M;1be.aMd
N~~~~10-mut T h l r e l ~ C N l ........ lkl00~oco.w.A
tur,i~.,ffllr'll9itacoos~..,.~IO -~IIOpttMOII-OUlarre,eltoJ*>plllwnoN'\111
0CdrOlardV'9t~pooc:aMS,n~1D~ ....,..,
dlk~~ l r l ~ ~ ~ - - hl:ll.lghtPlllo..terf.,,_l~~(Dr"'-"Jol
l - . . . e d t o l ' ~ - ,nclo,,Q,ngf"'"*'9 .......... l9XIDewiitettw~.-.1tructl.QIMIClnonsttut
~byN19SJUftlCll""11,. . . ~~ ..... ~ . . . . , _ ~ -llood,,ng.ncifl.$0-
Acllhlt.DJOWIQeCl11SP1'-0!11'119'... l0 _ _ ... . , . . ~ c a e d ~ ~ M . .. - d D J ~ S , . . . .

nges and Challenges

Current Ch a
vents-including the Northern
Coverage of current e 4 flooding in Calgary
. . debate the 201 .
Gateway p1pel1ne . . bee populations.
f c decline in
and Toronto, the drama I nses to it- illustrates
ort and respo .
and the 2014 IPCC rep d challenges happening
environmental changes an
every day all over the world .
x~iii Feature
CHAl'T(III rextlTH" I r...i ..,..... ,--i. .... P-t.ttN ... ,..

. ' ~ " .... ,.. ,_..,.._

/JO 111:'S 'l'/(; r;t l:.W STI Tl-: It/:' j, -
Tribal Park1 In Cl ayoquot and Beyond . Forwardrng Indigenous and Community
Conserved Areas In Canadian Context I Ell En,~
TM 199.J Ul'lt.NI Nauon1eor-r,!JOr!ort8IQlog,al Oeully
rcaD1was1i.t11<1b)'o-.... 1:ao~iestocttalyua ~
~lo,t lo p,omotf lhe COI\Nt'\1111on Of ~ . I I ~ l y
Among 1,- m-,,y Gil'Kt/1,ff, the intetrvho,,.L ~ ) '
Uiled /ol lht' rKOgnlllOn O f ~ paop., wld 1001
T"" """'n.tlOnal Union fo, lhe Cons,e,r,,iltlon ol Nau,. . (IUCNI
lf'9~Pl(i.,,nslboul;f:he0.AMJSCl'ftt "Nw-CIW\.
nuM"1..-.1111v-a,,,trfflel10wf'llhtNuv <hel'l rutt,
tty,~p,o1ectedatH1 ... hlcttwo.,1abeto,neknc,wn
J)IIOpie,tll"(l ~M,dM)Ql,II this.
MICINU1(1CCMJ 1'-(0n(~ottlumwwtyl'orrnsthebnt$0,1aAa...
l o g ' C I O f ' l ' M t ~ - ~ 0ft1$Ml'Jttl.4 ti.
ICCAslht~/1~~~--modetn lbtMC011n.uoonontnc111nAlt.-ilor8fitnh~mac
d'flla.utlonof1-,.oldontnomenofl TrlGIIIOf\llwttan
~Tll o qu1W1t~Chiefs011MNre,llllf'ld The
">dfuloftut...e9frlftWOf\$~fl-- lhs Nowlsce,, ~ llll!Pl9IOtel)Q,lwl\atl*11,:-
.a1e>1rue1nlheC~nr.ontu1wtier.~Pl'OO!e1 whlClll'lmy"-1 ,_....,.glldlO-)'OU~
' - CUWlled nttur.i re:souru1 It an KOSystem 1r,,.1 W1ce Nf'I lllmolgoodherttoste)'Q,11\erf; 11,dl.,,,
I.W'nt'mrncmon.l.11dffltl'etheyMasttoday~ttwr feewlgptllt)'hlghm-,5ell'1bout)' I
lffllhtChlefhwe r1m~tolel)'Ctl...,,.l1""'4ontrff
TheM 1uet1tons t-'iem,ny tor"" but In te,m5 oflCCAsoneot mind 1~2,11ndi,ns.,-,lhl5p11ce1s\OOVl'YIII
Whffl lhl<t IS lf"IDther getltrltlOnol~ ltwff hun-
Al the hurt of the Cllyoquo1 Sound flloiphe,e Ret.e~ dredyNflllOmnow thtfe wtlbeno!JmberlOf'lllefl'l,c
on the we11 CO.SI ot VatlCOu',oer l~nd. 1 - rnoae1 ot tllb411 alilt111U~up0J ~tler$who1Urrounc:1tn..r~
Plkl,s em.t9,ng fll gfoti.l lNdu In soc:lfl-.coio91c1I rtJ.i~ .Cl round. 1rod pretty soon lh<tre will be no ,oom
tionand llmUJt1neoustyadap11119 thelr~old ecotog,ut
go,,,l!mlta sy,tem to l-tnes of '911reurve lofelgn ll'ltlu
ericn. 1111 Tll-o-qu,-aht peopin ol Clayoquol t11ve1n ICCA
conce,,1 !hit m.1r111 ttoe old wtth the new to torm, ~tin-
blf l1Yti.tioocb moctet lhl1 promotes er1Y110ntNnU1l sur1ty
luno.menUllly d,lfe,e~ concepoo,, cl hurm,nrty which or,.
ol;usbc,totheenwonment, IIMtlcWl!fll ,n t h e ~

OuuU$ Rul~humit>erng Rell11~10

ln)Ol'I\ Ind " bein9" 1$ oppoS@CI 10 lfl)' other
ind Our em.lronments. no rmn., Whll )'Ct.I ,re lftl'"Q. It
IS cby to lffl thll Wfy, ,USt don't become lwotecl Oil ~
As Ouu-us we 1re I li,!I( between ou, PIH N!Cf's!Or$
lndlu!,..e"'1<:estcmfomwi,gcrrciesintime 1sLnks.-.e
hi~ e$p0n$,Orlity to <Tlfn,ge our n,ur.t lnher1t1nc:1
With Ure for tutu,e Ancestors Ou, ri,t1,qt lnhf! Al'i~h-kh'-po&.,

~ o 1 0 , . , . .'1GH(..mGsoons
Fresh National and Global Perspectives
nGUll1& \ ~ -- -
_,.i.-_~- - -
"Guest Statement" features, including 20 entirely new or
revised statements, highlight the work of engag ed scientists
making a difference in Canada and internationally in areas
such as food security, endangered species conservation,
environmental protection by indigenous peoples, flood
management, and disaster risk reduction.

moo, WIJ 9)POO ilecwa. Moft diu --th11d of, p, ~ Such ueu ni U)' for laod1veriny protec
howc-ou, 11 Dm!.nlly U'fda:t, 1JMI IIIOSt of ll OCIC1lff Ill U011uwdlufureco,y,temtenriceprov1&10A.lnfact,1ectn1
die North. T ~ QDd,ec, NWT, Omtno, aad Brwah raurc..b ~ Wt ev-eatm.111 unou.ottofuu mnonl uo
Cakcbuaccowufural.11:10t1~oftbea111DUJ'lbOI baff-, sipufiunt dfecu OIi eco,ynem Kf\'itt prorinoo
WforHL~dwiyb.u,aui!Of1.11~rokto (Zha.n1etd.xn4). AKUt11glob,lmo1uto1111gusasmr1uof
play lll butc:ourn,olbOD 111,d maaagor--. uu- olUL decndu.ioa (World Ruourct.1 l11,1111u1,, JOt-4)
~ 11 tar petWl,IOe'III 00llttr1IOII o( futtru ID CouadthM:
other laa,d Gia. la Caaa.d., tar UIIUI pn,<e. II ~ n l O I I
110agrlCll1nan.lLlod, SiAUX100,llpcrcn1o/1r1.11Uvebcendq.raded
bGAJ tbe aa:t a1111 fanor and tbe - npidly llllWIGI- Almoa95perumoliheworld"1rtm11nu,1tru&re1n1bt
~ ~ by 1ULt1Uuuuble u,..,.tu,1 pnct1ea uopaludborulrepiu
.. ,.-., - 0wnU. tht GDUA1 r.ur al dd'orawioa Tbt Llrpi ueu ol 1n. dqnd,,uoa bYC bec,11 fouod ,a
IS ~dlVfPllllfn:1e11 '4,000 becura LIi 199(1 IOIIOW>d !he Northcn1 borW forui btlt of Canada. Ruul&, aiMI
~ilecu.mbJ 13 CNRP.l ~,u,Call.Ml., J014~ Alub(47percent)andtl'Opltllfore.crc110M1uchu1bt
f'"""5,dtowdbrtaedth.a1!tuuu11110UJ1.1brt1n1lou A - - (lS puum) and Coop (9 per cnnJ b.""'
ndiaad-..,.,u, Jun thret COIIDlnet-CalWla., Rlllm, and BruU-toge1ber
Cutda1S&l,,c,cruaaJ10DlimmuuofpohAI IDUCtiotat CXIIIWII 6s per oem. altbe world"s rtm1.11:ua1 !ft.a. 11lt:le
~ ( J n A . Tbattlaa.huJ)"Slupeaougbrorrta1.11 cou,ntnt, 1boac.counttd lor0ter half of.U tn.ckgradal.10n
~~ud~aao411uolfrtp1to1111011by with rOid INildi~ of1cn lioktd to k,gganc and utuct
los,iacud w'f'UtNrnlni 111eb u rDo\da, .IIUIU111, and oil or ivc UldGttn5, being key dn-rr Othn-dnveri vary

- e-1,- Revised Art Program
i.~ From carefully chosen images that present the
issues in living colour to detailed figures and ta bles
that provide the most up-to-date data, the revised
art program complements and augments the
discussion in every chapter.

flOUUt 1 r01ast~1r1 c..n.1
=:.=:_~ __ ....,.__.., __ .,...._ _________ ~Jaal,- ........-..._
F eature xix

~All T I I Tho..._,._...,

Fascinating Examples and

"Environment in Focus boxes revea l how concepts,
approaches, and theories are applied in a variety of real-
world contexts, while "Perspectives on the Environment"
boxes provide insightful, thought-provoking quotations
from respected researchers and thinkers in the field . CHAIOTU FOIJITUN ! F.nd111CN'U S1>Hw, 1itd p.,.1 ...ud Arru

BOX 14.13 l What You Can Do Supporting Protected Areas

t. v,,.,tpttllsWKIOlhefprotec:tea-11oltirn1~ ~totll"ld,>'ldl.llilpilr1u t.eclhtfl>kroow)Q"
lht)'NJI [l'IJOY)'OlKWII Tllllotti.11tNt)'Ol,lhl,..~ ~U.tolhllt)'OUOl'lbtplM:adontt..rflW'9tltllO
)'OU<Mllf Afldencoura,g,eu...,n,10vt11t fKtftlolfflOral'lformellofl
2 Ahl.~ lodow ptOI r.gulMlons ~ uw F+ed1n9 S Jew, I n o r , - ~ t . l ~ ,,.d1 IN
w.lcllife lortklmple ml)l'secmk1MorNITl'llllu,.t,u111 C~..,.. P. . s 'Cl W-..,.,_ 5ooM)' OI ~
can1u<1toOHV'lof!N1nitnM C.nad,I W1thltllOn9,,,.._..,l)lfkSl5wes
J ll)'OU.,.,..qUftUOn11W9Wdll'lg\hel)tfk1~ 6 """1~-._c;,ooptrlbl,g~ .. """''
Of fub.lrn 00 nC( be 1fra1d IO.~ A qu,nuonw>g p1,1bllc: woiuntNttc-,ht.p--~ r...:1out""'*'-
lttConc:em.dpubl,c PMC-)'O\lh.t$11JC11-10/9ll"ltolbOII.
4 Many P'! egenoei '-9 public cornultlbon llr1t 7 WrUIOpcMIIICIW\&tolMl'*"'knowolyol'1'*1(f~
i,g,n 1N1Jr1g IO IOpl(:I l!Qfl'I oe,t.: po1t1:y to tM

"-t,,,,,,,,,,, .' ,,
1 hunctlOrl i-ts i - reKht<I u n ~ wvotl, 90,1ecfrl;lf1010-f'Ml~N01ff*"1

Emphasis on Solutions Thef--~-why-lhol.Adbec:onctofr,af;I

L!fe-,uppc,tlr,g 9C05Yf{effl P,OC- dep,w,d Of'I Ko-
f}'Slem c:ompone,,,ts A$ - IOW compori.f"U INOUgh 6

lhe$eprOC-~--,mp,a,,1'd w. ~ ~ 10 ~ I ~ _ , . . In
11JoNnv.m1nyi.nefulana~lll'()CluCt1/'ron'I~ J001.t1W,.,.,._~DNMCINS,.C...,11Aiui
Explorations of global, national, and personal WloAII-- .,_,__
walDoOta..lndtldingnwdlona ln~IOU..1,/t,f,
, n-c---on.bsa-.ol(~'A
solutions suggest actions that can be taken ~to,.,.__,.. ...
2 MMtyl~l-bel\indcw,w,tdaclrln.Th9~
-~~ ......... Ol----4,
to move towards more sustainable ways ~, 11 llumvt ~ .. ~ a,ICI C'Qft

~"'--"'""Midi----. N I ~ o120,.n1.--P11011Nt1~ n..
Oftlt,elftl0;1~otir.111gr1,ti,,o0~.,.U c - - - , - n - . ... ,_p,oces.
of living . n,gr, . . . ol,..c. . .,_ ~ ,.,..

"-n~HIJ010i111C1119N ...... JJWJW-~
a ,.-.,._i-,....,_w...~.-ict~
- - - - ~ ..... ~ . c l , i r - . - , , .
s "'-' ........ c.....,..-.:11on.111C1uc11~ __ ....,...._'-bll\lll,--...,.t101~
... ~mnllllll_,hlocaC"-'tf ~er..,. 1)'1011,or,ty-,a.-ot~ll . . . " l l d O . . . . ~

lftc:IUOcltMIIQrlfypt.,_; ~ a t
CNfNC.ltla,ldlha~""ol .... lPIC"1

koc4"*'--"'"""~IO .. IW'tl0fl~

~ . . , - - - - - - ~ . . . . . . to .....
... c ~
~ . , . , .06rstenl
~ ~
~~l'lbltllr____,..m,g,lklry1PJH .-.:eo1~,,_Rt..., .. p1,Kalolr.-;.MIKII\
lpt("al....,,.,...,._,ll:)Q(~------ INf IPl'tUII , - - . ~ . . . . . . . , ~
b>t,..._lr:rCO<ftfflitfQll...- ...... 14**." _,~_,IOl,,IIC__,,nf\MUta!OIAdOot'wt(inp
5MtJil'lnotllf~-dolP9''*'- ,rldrpet,n~lu<,o, UI Tne.w.mqddfare,,1~olPf1*C1N..._ ..


..,__._..-,..,......., . ~ ~
UNda~""-O'lllltw:IPf'OWICIII,--.. ..

...,...., MoO~.w:9""-'"IC.~~ n,...,.._...

00Vt9C.OOl'l ol~M11- ~ lht ~""*'f
~ " 8009..:111 0.-.7 ~ ot vw '' Olp,Ola("tooll9'"-'10ec.~~~
....... 'WM0,11 f'(1lft
,.., Feallll'<'h

ood uample of the first law of ther - -
E rths energy ,nput and output. g
FIGURE 2 .~ ~ The a

Primer on Scientific Concepts

Thorough coverage of the environmental processes
that form the Earth's life-support systems helps readers
understand essential scientific concepts and recognize
the importance of taking a holistic, scientifically informed
approach to environmental issues.

Couerage of E,wironmental Planning and JUanagement

In-depth coverage of the philosophies, processes, and products that characterize
the best approac hes to environmental planning and m anagement remains a strong
feature in the fifth edition
Feature xxi

Robust Online Ancillary Suite

The fifth edition of Environmental Change and Challenge is supported by a wide range of
supplementary items for students and instructors alike, all designed to enrich and complete the
learning and teaching experiences.

For the Student

Available at DeardenMitchellse.
A mobile study room -where students can access study support tools on their tablets, smartphones,
or PCs-includes activities, quizzes, science links, and multimedia to enhance the material found in
each chapter.

For Instructors
The following instructors resources are available to qualifying adopters. Please contact your
OUP Canada sales representative for more information.
An instructor's manual, PowerPoint slides, and an image bank make classroom presentation of
material more engaging and relevant for students.
A test generator allows instructors a wide array of options for sorting, editing, importing, and
distributing questions.

COMPANION Ph1hp Dearden and Bruce Mitchell

\\'EBS ITE Env,ronmental Change and Challenge. Fifth Edition

ISBN 13: 9780199015146

About the Book --. ~ ~ 1" .... -

Em ironmental Instructor Resources

Chanap Now ,n a fifth edition, Environmental Change
ChSllenge and Challenge Is a fascinating introduction to You need a password to access these resources.
environmental studies explores contemporary Please contact your local
Issues such as drought, flooding, loss of Sales and Ed1tonal Reoreseotat1ve for more
biodiversity, ecosystem toxicity, and crop Information.
failure, while also offering the tools to
understand the Impacts, alternatives, and
possible solutions. This fully updated and
Student Resources
revised edition reflects the most current data,
lnsoect:IQO COPY request profiles the most pressing environmental
hotspots both at home and abroad, and
Ordeong Information emphasizes that being Informed Is the key to
meeting environmental challenges and affecting
Contact & Comments
positive change.

Sample Matenal

Get Adobe PDF reader [ 1J..S I UK l
Bruce Mitchell gratefully acknowledges the research assist on the developmental editor's role, and he was dilige
.h . d . h
systematic wit constructive a vice as t e new tn.anuser
ance provided by Janette Kingsbury for the fifth edition.
Janette provided support in a variety of ways, and was espe- was prepared and then revised. We also had the pleas
cially systematic in identifying and verifying sources, which interacting with Leslie Saffrey who served as the copy:~~
contributed to enhancing the final product. for the fifth edition. Leslie was constructive and thorou ~
Robert Gibson, University of Waterloo, and Bram Noble, her copy editing, and her suggestions resulted in the mg
University of Saskatchewan, provided valuable advice and
insight related to strategic environmental assessment, espe-
cially regarding instances of best practice in Canada.
script being much improved. We also express our a
ciation to Lisa Ball for her careful and helpful work d:
the production and printing phases of the fifth edition. 1
Tanya Collier MacDonald of the Cape Breton Tar Ponds appreciate the time taken by our guest contributors to provi
Agency provided information about the ongoing remediation statements that help diversify and enliven the text.
work as well as photographs related to the tar ponds. Thanks also to the many reviewers whose comments ha
Colleagues Paul Parker in Geography and Environmental proved invaluable over the years. In addition to those w.
Management and Roland Hall in Biology, both at the provided anonymous feedback on this fifth edition, t
University ofWaterloo, provided photographs which enhance authors and publisher thank the following reviewers, who
the text. thoughtful comments and suggestions have helped to sha
Aimee McKee took the head-and-shoulders photograph all the editions of this text:
accompanying the personal information for Bruce in the
"About the Authors" section. He admires her skill and patience Darren Bardati Barbara Jean McNicol
regarding that photograph. Bishop's University Mount Royal College
Dan McCarthy in the School ofEnvironment, Resources and
Sustainability, University of Waterloo, provided three photo- Michael Bardecki T.Meredith
graphs showing challenges and responses in Kaschechwan, Ryerson University McGill University
Ontario related to flooding.
Joan Mitchell in numerous ways provided support and BillBuhay Brian S. Osborne
encouragement, allowing Bruce Mitchell the time needed University of Winnipeg Queen's University
to work on the fifth edition. Without her encouragement
and constructive comments, this work would never have Stephen Doyle Hilary Sandford
been completed. Okanagan College Camosun College
Philip Dearden would like to acknowledge his many first-
year students who have been a constant source of inspiration Kate Sherren
Tim Elkin
and energy for the subject matter in the book, and it is to them Dalhousie University
Camosun College
that I dedicate the book. Special thanks go to family members,
including dog Max, for their patience and understanding Robert Stewart
Andrea Freeman
on home tasks uncompleted, walks not taken, and promises Lakehead University
unfulfilled through the various editions of this book. University of Calgary
The authors of guest statements who we worked with were Tom Waldichuk
enthusiastic and committed as they prepared their draft Susan Gass Thompson Rivers UniversitJ
statements, and then revised them in light of suggestions. Dalhousie University
They have added depth and breadth beyond what could have Barry Weaver
been provided from the two co-authors of this new edition Leslie Goodman Camosun College
and we are most grateful that they agreed to prepare their' University of Manitoba
individual statements. Jennifer Weaver
We are both indebted to Jodi Lewchuk of Oxford University Johanne Kristjanson University of Toronto
Press, who worked with us in her role as developmental editor University of Manitoba Mississauga
for the fourth edition, and continued with us as work began
on the fifth edition. After she was promoted to acquisitions Robert McLeman Ann P. Zimmerman
editor, we had the good fortune to have Peter Chambers take University of Ottawa University of Toronto

Philip Dearden
I grew up in Britain. Even though home was in one of the wil- Thailand, designing climate-
der parts of Britain, I was always struck with the biological change resistant marine pro-
impoverishment of my homeland and dreamed of living in tected area networks in Thailand,
a country where wild nature still existed. My dream was developing optimal approaches
realized when I first came to Newfoundland as a graduate for whale shark watching in the
student in the early 1970s. Since that time I have travelled Philippines, scaling up marine
all over Canada, and most of the rest of the world, and have protected area networks in the
a strong appreciation of the beauty and grandeur of the Philippines, and developing com-
Canadian landscape. munity-based approaches to con-
My main interest is in conservation, and I have taught servation around the Serengeti
courses and undertaken research on this topic, based at the in Tanzania. I am a member of
University of Victoria, for over 35 years. Throughout this per- the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas and have
iod, I have taught large introductory classes in society and advised many international bodies on protected area man-
environment and loved every minute ofit. I have a strong belief agement. Author of more than 220 articles and eleven books
that the power of individual actions can help to make a better and monographs, including (with Rick Rollins and Mark
environmental future and that we need to support NGOs work- Needham) Parks and Protected Areas in Canada: Planning
ing in this area. I have held many positions in the Canadian and Management (fourth edition, Oxford, 2016), I have also
Parks and Wilderness Society, including chair of the British been recognized for excellence in teaching with an Alumni
Columbia chapter, and am currently a trustee emeritus. Outstanding Teacher Award and Maclean's Popular Professor
My main field of research is conservation and protected recognition at the University of Victoria. I am Leader of the
areas, and I maintain active research programs in Canada, Marine Protected Area Research Group at the University of
Asia, and Africa on this topic. Current topics include Victoria ( and enjoy sailing,
community-based approaches to dugong conservation in hiking, and skiing whenever I get the opportunity.

Bruce Mitchell
I was born and raised in Prince Rupert, a small community on showed me that "local know-
the northwestern coast of British Columbia whose economy ledge" is a remarkable source
was strongly based on natural resources, especially forests ofunderstanding and insight.
and fish. Consequently, from an early age, I became aware of This became a lifelong les-
the importance of "natural resources" and the "environment." son: experiential knowledge
As a graduate student, I focused on water resources, having deserves respect, and those
become aware of how critical this resource is for natural sys- pursuing science should con-
tems and humankind. I never forgot the observation that an tinuously look to such know-
adult of average health in average living conditions could ledge to complement and
expect to live not more than about 72 hours without potable enhance what they believe they know based on science.
water of sufficient quantity and quality. This and the vul- Studying geography provided me with a foundation to
nerability created from droughts and floods suggested that understand natural systems, as well as the way in which
water was, and continues to be, a key resource at local and humans interact with or use them. As time passed, I became
global scales. more and more convinced that many "natural resource and
As a high school student and an undergraduate, I worked environmental problems" were often "people problems." I
summers as a shoreworker in a fish-processing plant and then also became aware of the concept of "wicked problems," those
as a deckhand on a troller fishing mainly for salmon. That which are ill defined, with no single correct solution and for
experience provided first-hand experience with a resource- which solutions often cause other, sometimes even greater,
harvesting industry. But, more importantly, it made me aware challenges. As a result, I focused my attention towards plan-
of how knowledgeable people who had not finished their ning and management, always mindful of the need to draw
formal education in the school system could be. This experience upon scientific research and local knowledge.
I have published over 160 articles and book chapters, As a faculty member, I have conducted r:search in C;i.,, ,
32 books and monographs, and 34 reports and commentar- well as in other countries, such as Australia, China, ~~
ies; have served as President of the Canadian Water Resources and Nigeria. Working in other countries has made Ille-~
Association; have been a visiting professor at 12 universities of how import~~ it is to underst~n~ the ~ ological, ~~
in various countries; and received the Award for Scholarly social, and political contexts within which manag"'- ~
Distinction from the Canadian Association of Geographers as natural resources and the environment occurs. It also~ of
well as a Distinguished Teacher Award from the University of vinced me that, while many p~o~lems are formidable and ~
Waterloo. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a intimidating, again and again it has been possible to '
Fellow of the International Water Resources Association have progress in ameliorating, if not t~t~y ~olving, thei:n. ~
been awarded the Massey Medal from the Royal Ca;adian believe we should and can be positive. With competence d11&.l
Geographical Society; and am a honorary professor at four mination, discipline, and integrity, we can contribute to' etet.
Chinese universities. ingproblems and to creating opportunities for a better;~ lqture.
2 PART A \ Introduction
.f. producers of waste. Our SOc-im...
the most prol , ic - --.,y t.._
forthe among . f the most wasteful on the planet n....
Chapter 1 considers two concepts relatmg to a vision developed into one o -,,
future: sustainable development and resilience. Sustainable n turn that around.
. . bl' t' n of we ca . . d' tonal and governance arrangements f..._ I
development. popularized in 1987 with the pu ica 1~ . n The JUflS IC I . 'IJI
Our Common Future. the report of the World Commiss,o . l anagement in Canada constitute one criti.....
environmenta m . . . ~
on Environment and Development. has provoked muc~ . . our relationship with the env1ronme...
factor 1nfluencin9 . "' ana
debate and disagreement, since different groups interpret it h arrangements are rarely taken into accn. ....
resources. Suc . --...ll
in ways that favour their values and interests. Despite con- . t t and environmentalists. but they can be the,.,
by sc1en 1s s "'Oil
flicting views about what sustainable development means. important factor when considering how and ~hen a Particu.
it frequently appears in policies related to the environment lar problem is going to be addressed. Canada 1s a large coun-
and natural resources. Thus, it is important to have a critical
nd the various levels of government are complex a""
appreciation of its strengths and limitations. Resilience is the t ry, a 111

often work poorly together.

second concept proposed as a guiding concept for develop-
Whether the context is global. national. or regional, we are
ment and environment in the future. Resilience has been gain-
interested in measuring our progress in addressing environ-
ing in popularity in many areas of the scholarly and scientific
mental change. As noted earlier. however, the situation is very
literature over the last decade. but what does it really mean,
complex, with far more variables. interactions. and changel
and how can it be enhanced? Our intent here is to ensure that
you understand what both these concepts mean, what they than we can possibly measure. The following section of the
offer, and what their weaknesses are. first chapter provides some background on how we try meas-
Needless to say. the global situation is infinitely more com- uring progress through the use of indicators and outlines the
plex than sustainability or resilience alone. The next section various kinds of indicators and their strengths and weaknesses.
of Chapter 1 provides an overview of the global situation The chapter ends with the presentation of a simple frame-
with regard to environment and society. What are some of work that summarizes the process of environmental manage-
the main trends pointing to future directions? Although dis- ment. Throughout the book, we return to this framework to
agreements exist about the rate and severity of environmental illustrate deficiencies in understanding or lack of connection
change, few claim that overall conditions are improving. One between different elements of the framework.
indicator. the Living Planet lndex. suggests that overall we Part A provides an overall introduction to environmental
have lost more than 50 per cent of the ecological health of change and challenge with reference to the global, national
the Earth since 1970.
and regional levels. Most of the remainder of the book con
However, there is good news. Predictions of global popula-
centrates on Canada. although we consider global aspects
tion, for example. are slightly lower than previously-9.15 bil- th
roughout the book and return to a global perspective in the
lion people by the year 2050. One important dimension that
final chapter. Part B provides an overview of the main environ
has only shown growth, however, is resource use. fuelled
mental processes we need to be familiar with to understaM
mainly by the demands of consumers in developed coun-
many environmental problems. Part C discusses some of the
tries~we are reminded of the old comic strip Pogo in which
and best practices of various aspects of resource
the title character. a possum living in a swamp, famously pro-
claimed. we have met the enemy. and he is us: If there is ma~agement. This is followed by Part D. in which we discuss
Vanous thematic aspects of resource management, such as
one fundamental message that we would like t
. o convey. it
is that the power of individuals to make decisions d . fisheries. water, and climate change. The final section. part~
. ona a~ draws togeth \ and
bas1s can reduce these pressures Canadians h . er some of these themes, returns to globa
. . ave much to national summa . -Ame
contribute in this regard. since we are among th nes of current trends and points out SV'''.
e most profli-
gate consumers of energy and water in the w ld of the things th t d" . f rtlt
or and are also . a in Mduals can do to effect change 0
better in the environment of tom

Environment, Resources, and Society

Learning Objectives
To appreciate different perspectives related to environ- To appreciate the concept of wicked problems
ment and resources To understand the nature of human population growth
To understand different approaches to analyzing complex To appreciate the impacts of overconsumption on global
environmental and socio - econ omic systems ecosystems
To understand the implications for ch an ge, complexity, To understand relevant jurisdictional and governance
uncertainty, and conflict relative to environmental issues arra ngements in Canada
and problems To recog nize that Canada's natural environment and soci-
To learn about various aspects that must be add ressed to ety are part of a global system
bring science to bear on environmental and resource To describe different ways of tracking progress among
problems nations on environmental matters over time
To understand the significance of sustainable develop-
ment and resilience

Introduction: Change and Challenge

The year 2014 was the hottest year in global history, and half- the twenty-first century has been in the top 20 warmest years
way through 2015 climate scientists are already predicting on record. The globe is definitely warming. Interestingly,
that 2015 will be hotter. Nine of the 10 hottest years in global Canada experienced its coolest year in the last 18 years in
records have occurred since 2000. The odds of this happen- 2014. As you will discover in Chapter 71 global climate change
ing at random are about 650 million to 1. Every year so far in is a very complex phenomenon; some areas will consistently
4 PART A I Introduction
warm, others cool, and still others oscillate as conditions
change. 2014 was, however, the thirty-eighth year in a row
that the world was warmer than the twentieth-century aver-
age. It is likely that you and most other people in the world
today have never lived in a cooler-than-average year.
Natural systems change. They have always changed and
will always change. There is strong evidence, discussed later,
that human activities have become a main driving force
behind environmental change. Whatever the reason, it seems
that changes are happening more abruptly and with greater
magnitude than previously. They threaten societal well-
being, and society must respond-and respond thoughtfully
and deliberately.
Changes also occur as a result of shifts in human values, The muddy brown slopes of Cypress ski hill in West Vancouver in Janlla!J
expectations, perceptions, and attitudes, which may have 2015. Due to unseasonably warm weather, only 6 of 30 runs were ahlt
implications for future interactions between societies and nat- to open.
ural systems. The value of the world economy has increased
more than sixfold in the past 35 years. This increase was not
merely the result of population growth; the chief cause has A case study of the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal illus-
been increased consumption. Expectations have changed. trates opportunities and challenges regarding resource and
Things seen as luxuries 50 or 60 years ago, such as TVs and environmental systems as well as the importance of using
automobiles, can now be found in some of the most remote both science and social science to inform public decisions
societies on Earth. and policy-making. The case study vividly demonstrates that
decisions are often made in the context of changing condi-
tions, incomplete knowledge and understanding, conflicting
interests and values, trade-offs, and uncertainty.
Perspectives on the Environment These conditions apply not only to the Northern Gateway
On Change proposal or, indeed, to Canada generally but also to the global
stage. In this context, we provide an overview of some major
There is nothing wrong with change; if it is the right
environmental trends and the main issues that arise. There
is no doubt that human population growth is a stress on this
-Winston Churchill. British prime minister (1940-5. 1951-5)
planet, but so are the consumption patterns of the more afflu
There is nothing more certain and unchanging than ent sectors of society. These factors are leading to unpreced
uncertainty and change.
ented changes in global systems. Of particular concern are
-John F. Kennedy, president of the United States (1961-3) the challenges posed by global climate change. It is import
ant that we appreciate the role that Canada plays in glot,al
Changes in natural and human systems generate challen-
ges. If we wish to protect the integrity of biophysical systems
ye~ also ensure that hu~an needs are satisfied, questions
anse abou~ how to determme ecosystem integrity and how to
define bas1~ _human needs. Such questions force us to think
about conditions both today and in thefuture Such .
a1s . questions
o renund us that an understanding of environmental d
resource systems requires both natural and . 1 . an
he soc1a sciences
Nett r alone provides sufficient understanding a d . . h.
t "de dee' , . n ms1g t
o gut lSlons. Finally, such questions pose fundamental
challenges as to whether we can realisticall
Y expect to man-
age or control natural systems or whether we sho ld
. u OCUS on
trying to manage human interactions with natural
I th15 h systems
n c apter, we begin by explaining what w b.
.. ., e mean y
environment, resources," and "society" a d h .
n t en consider
a lternat1ve ways to understand systems is
' sues, and problems.
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, Resource, , and Society 5

environmental change- both as the second-largest country on as a protected area. People and other animals drink water
Earth and as a source of major carbon resources, such as our to live, and at the same time urban areas may compete with
forests and oil reserves. The decisions made by Canada regard- farmers for access to water. An area of significant value for
ing these resources have global implications. Therefore, you its biodiversity or ecological integrity may be designated as
need to understand the governance aspects of environmental a national or provincial park-but then might change into an
management in Canada to appreciate how decisions are made ecosystem of less intrinsic value to humans as a result of eco-
and how stakeholders such as you can become more involved. logical processes. For instance, if a fire sweeps through an old-
The changes taking place are very complex. It is important growth forest, the question arises as to whether the fire should
that we grasp the essence of major changes and act accord- be allowed to burn because it is a natural part of ecosystem
ingly. One way of doing this is to use the various indicators processes or whether humans should intervene to put it out.
that measure environmental change and response, and we Thus, recognizing anthropocentric and biocentric per-
discuss the ways in which these indicators, such as ecological spectives does not automatically resolve all the problems
footprints, are used. We conclude the chapter by identifying that scientists and managers face when dealing with the
some key considerations regarding how scientific under- environment and resources. However, being aware of such
standing and insight can be used to inform resource and viewpoints helps us to understand the positions that indi-
environmental management and decisions. viduals or groups take with regard to what is appropriate
action. You may wish to consider whether your perspective
is more anthropocentric or biocentric. Does understanding
Defining Environment your fundamental perspective help you to appreciate why
your view about the right thing to do regarding a resource
and Resources situation sometimes conflicts with what others would like to
The environment includes the atmosphere, hydrosphere, see happen?
cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere in which humans,
other living species, and non-animate phenomena exist. As
an analogy, the environment is the habitat or home on which
Three Waves Regarding
humans and others depend to survive. In contrast, resources Approaches to
are more specific and are normally thought of as such things
as forests, wildlife, oceans, rivers and lakes, and minerals
Environmental Management
and petroleum. Different views emerge, dominate, and evolve related to how
Some consider resources to be only those components of the environmental management is interpreted. In that context,
environment with utility for humans. From this perspective, it has been suggested that three waves of thinking have
coal and copper were part of the environment but were not occurred. The value of such "waves" is that they allow us to
resources until humans had the understanding to recognize appreciate what dominant views influence outlooks at any
their existeuce, the insight to appreciate how they could be given time and to consider what might be done to cause a shift
used, and the skills or technology to access and apply them. In in thinking if we conclude the dominant view is not sufficient.
other words, in this perspective, elements of the environment The first wave emerged during the late nineteenth cen-
do not become resources until they have value for humans. ttiry, when those concerned about the environment sought
This is considered an anthropocentric view in the sense that to inventory and protect, and, when possible, extend places
value is defmed relative to human interests, wants, and needs. viewed as valuable for present and future generations. This
In contrast, another perspective sees resources as exist- wave focused on rediscovering and protecting wilderness
ing independently of human wants and needs. On that basis, areas, and the outcome often was the creation of parks and
components of the environment, such as temperate rain for- refuges. People associated with the first wave were character-
ests and grizzly bears, have value regardless of their immedi- ized as "conservationists" with a primary aim to protect exist-
ate value for people. This perspective is labelled as ecocentric ing environments.
or biocentric because it values aspects of the environment The second wave has been characterized as environmental
simply became they exist and accepts that they have the right activism," and began in the early twentieth century. A key
to exist. goal was to identify and highlight environmental degrada-
In this book, we are interested in resources both as they tion and urge governments and the pri'Vate sector to reduce
have the potential to meet human needs and with regard to the damage. Furthermore, this wave questioned prevailing
their own intrinsic value. Whichever category is emphasized, ideals of growth and progress with little regard to environ-
we often encounter change, complexity, uncertainty, and con- mental constraints or limits. As with the first wave, those
flict. For eumple. different attitudes at different times may in the second waw advocated a new direction for societies.
lead to an area being logea or for miDiBg or designated A by difference that tbOM ill the seamd wave argued
ndauiental force that d .
hange as a fo h' n,._
PART A I Introduction
fglobal climate c
tal change5
ouring t 1s wave, acti,
during the many environmen . clonal coalitions to create pr
c , fj t shifts in basic values. 0 utcomes d ate interna k ea.
1or s1gn1 1can J' des an have sought to ere ts and also to wor to resoL.
second wave included establishment of st~~tes'. po 1 r~ect sure on nation . al governmen
al c
blems. A 1eature of the tl..:.,
environmental protection agencies or ministries to p . nment pro h ~
localized env1ro . . solutions, rather t an PrililariL
endangered places and species. f th twenti- wave is bu 1'ld'ng1 pos1uveb . ving that the current generai,; -.,.....
The third wave emerged in the latter deca~es o e l de - . . . well as e ie1 ""II
criticizing, as . d bligations to future generatio
eth century. In addition to highlighting environment~ r a!i
has respansi'biliues an nd values have been drawn frn... Ill.
radation and pollution, its champions called for repa1 t d 1 concepts a v'll
. u n with a goal to achieve sustainable developmen . Un er y1ng ecofeminism, social ecology, environmental
reroe d1a o b h emergence deep ecologdy, . d' nous peoples. An overall coID.tni.t-
A dominant concern for this wave has een t e
.1ustice.' an in. igevironmental damage and create a path
ment is to repair en
toward sustainability.
ri Santas (n.d.), have argue d t h at a fourth
Some . ' sueh d Do you agree? If so, what should be the
d as
wave is nee e . d'
building blocks for a fourth wave? If you isagree, what are

your reasons?

Alternative Approaches
to Understanding
Complex Natural and
Socio-economic Systems
In this book, we examine many complex systems, and our
understanding of these systems is often based on the know-
ledge derived from more than one discipline. As an individ
ual, you should be aware of what insight you can contribute
from a disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and/or transdisciplin
ary base and what knowledge you offer to others, from various
disciplines, as part of a team. Systems have environmental,
economic, and social components. The environmental com
ponent alone can be subdivided into aspects requiring
expertise in disciplines such as biology, zoology, chemistry,
geology, and geography. However, while humans have organ
ized knowledge into disciplines for convenience and manage-
ability, the "real world" is not organized in that way, nor does
it recognize disciplinary boundaries. As an individual, you
can approach research from a disciplinary or cross-disciplin
ary perspective, so it is important to understand alternatiYe
ways of creating and applying knowledge. These alternatiYe
ways include at least the following:

1. Disciplinary. Disciplinary understanding is organiZed

around t~e conc~pts, theories, assumptions, and m~
ods associated with an academic discipline. DisciplitJ.eS
reflect a belief that specialization will result in in-dep
~nyone w~o has bee~ up close to a manta ray will never forget such a underStanding, and this is correct. However, since
sight systems of interest to environmental
. . . ""
scientists ~nd
th or d1Spute the right of such species to survive. However, a purely
f k' resource view will tend to look at their
an ropocentric . value more m . managers have m any components, the danger of a d'JSd
termsho ma
n b mg money . as material for bAD"s . ellery
wallets .."'hoes, and Jew Pli nary approach is th at important
-0 connect1ons yY
' e l e racelet pictured here. This manta is alive and well t Ko d ,
parts of the system . ne-
Island, Indonesia. a mo o cia1 t 11 not considered by a disciplinar}' Sr-
is wi not be t a ken mto
. account. Some disClF,_1;11eS
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, Resources, and Society 7

are broader than others and more open to interaction or assumptions that another specialist takes for granted.
with other disciplines. Geography is one such example, The approach also requires patience, because disciplin-
where the discipline specializes in synthesizing know- ary specialists have to be prepared to leam the jargon
ledge from many disciplines to understand differences of other specialists so that clear communication can
among places. occur. Finally, an interdisciplinary approach requires
2. Multidisciplinary. To obtain the in-depth insight of the team members to have considerable self-confidence and
disciplinary specialist but also gain the benefits of a a willingness to acknowledge the weaknesses of their
broader view by drawing on specialists from various disciplines, since their disciplinary views will inevitably
disciplines, the multidisciplinary approach emerged. In be challenged by others.
this approach, different specialists examine an issue, 5. Transdisciplinary. A transdisciplinary approach extends
such as biodiversity, from their disciplinary perspec- the interdisciplinary perspective by seeking a holistic
tives, such as biology, economics, and law. The special- understanding that crosses or transcends boundaries of
ists work in isolation, or only with others from the same many disciplines. Furthermore, the problem or issue is
discipline or profession, and provide separate reports, usually not viewed as in the domain of any one discipline
which are submitted to one person or group, which then or profession. An example is "health informatics," which
synthesizes the findings and insights. In this manner, brings together concepts and methods from medical and
both depth and breadth are achieved through synthesis information sciences. Another attribute of transdisci-
of the findings of different specialists after they have plinarity is a commitment to include stakeholders while
completed their analyses. defining research problems and objectives and when
3. Cross-disciplinary. While specialists in a multidisciplin- developing strategies to collect evidence. Particular
ary team work in isolation from one another, in cross- attention is given to engaging with people who could be
disciplinary research a disciplinary specialist "crosses" affected by the outcomes from the research. A Charter
the boundaries ofother disciplines and borrows concepts, of Transdisciplinarity was adopted at the First World
theories, methods, and empirical findings to enhance his Congress of Transdisciplinarity in 1987 (see http://
or her disciplinary perspective. However, while in this
approach the specialist deliberately crosses disciplinary and a handbook was published in 2008 (Hirsch Hadorn
boundaries to borrow from other disciplines, he or she et al., 2008).
does not actively engage with specialists from the other The same weight is given to the perspectives from each
disciplines but simply draws on their ideas, approaches, discipline or profession. This approach, as with inter-
and findings. This approach allows the investigator disciplinarity, can be challenging given the specialized
to make connections throughout an investigation that vocabularies associated with different expertise and
would not occur in a disciplinary or multidisciplinary the potential to be overwhelmed by huge volumes of
approach, and this can be very positive. At the same time, data and insights, some of which may be contradictory.
it can also involve mis1,lllderstanding of the borrowed Brown, Harris, and Russell (2010) provide further insight
material; using theories, concepts, and methods out of about this approach.
context; and overlooking contradictory evidence, tests,
or explanations in the discipline from which the borrow-
ing is done. Science-Based Management of
4- Interdisciplinary. To overcome the limitations of the pre-
vious three approaches, interdisciplinary investigations
Resources and Environment
involve disciplinary specialists crossing other disciplin- In this book, we consider how understanding and insight
ary boundaries and engaging with other specialists from from science can be used to inform management and
the very beginning of a research project. The objective is to decision-making. The nature of science is discussed in more
achieve the benefits of both depth and breadth, as well detail in the introduction to Part B. Mills et al. (2001) provide
as synthesis or integration, from the outset rather than at five guidelines for contributions by scientists for effective
the end of the process, as occurs in the multidisciplin- management of resources and the environment.
ary approach. This approach requires more time than
the second and third approaches, because a team of 1. Focus the science on key issues, and communicate it in a
disciplinary specialists must meet at the start and then policy-relevant form. If science is to have value for man-
regularly throughout a study. In addition, the approach agers, it must address pertinent management issues,
requires respect, trust, and mutual understanding and research must be conceived in a manner relevant
among the disciplinary specialists, since it is common to such issues. This stipulation does not predude sci-
for one disciplinary specialist to question basic beliefs entific research from addressing basic or fundamental
8 PART A \ lnlroduction

questions. However, to be perceived as relevant to the

needs of managers, scientific work must be focused on
and be timely to the needs of managers. In that regard, Perspectives on the Environment
while scientists can provide important input into estab-
Professional Judgement
lishing management goals, this task is properly in the
domain of the value-laden process of decision-making Since there seldom is time to conduct new research in
and is not part of scientific research per se. the middle of a major policy debate, there always will be
holes. sometimes big ones, in the science information.
2. Use scientific information to clarify issues, identify poten-
The scientists will be asked to at least hypothesize rela-
tial management options, and estimate consequences of
tions that might fill those holes, and that will require sig-
decisions. A basic challenge for managers is to deter-
nificant personal judgement. Often, tight time frames Will
mine whether a problem has been defined in an appro-
not permit the sort of multiple rounds of peer review that
priate manner. Sometimes, because of complexity and
are desirable and typical in the science arena . In these
uncertainty, managers may be unaware of questions circumstances, faith in the objectivity and independence
that should be asked. In that regard, science, by helping of the scientists is particularly important.
to clarify relations and trends in systems, can clarify -Mills et al. (2001: 14)
known issues and identify issues previously overlooked
or unknown. Science can also help to calculate the impli-
cations of different options related to an issue or problem.
3. Clearly and simply communicate key scientific findings to value-free or "objective" is difficult to sustain. However, there
all participants. While it is important for scientists to pub- is a difference between being perceived to be open-minded
lish their results in peer-reviewed journals, if their work in defining a problem or identifying alternative solutions
is to be relevant for managers then scientists must also and being known to uphold a particular view or position and
share their findings in forums and formats accessible consistently producing findings that support only that one
and understandable to non-specialists. view or position. A further complication occurs when there
4. Evaluate whether or not the final decision is consistent with is insufficient evidence to support a conclusion and scientists
scientific information. Making relevant scientific infor- are asked to provide a professional opinion. In such situa-
mation available and accessible is necessary but not tions, the scientist will be viewed as more credible if he or she
sufficient. It must be considered and incorporated into has no record of advocating a particular perspective.
decision-making. One way of ascertaining whether that
is happening, and of putting pressure on decision-makers
to do so, is to conduct systematic and formal evaluations
War on Science?
of decisions to determine to what extent they have relied The five points in the previous section identify ideal attrib
on science. utes of science related to management of resources and the
5. Avoid advocacy of any particular solution. There is much environment. A note of realism needs to be injected here, how
debate regarding this guideline, since some scientists ever, as it is not inevitable that everyone will enthusiastically
believe that they should be advocates for solutions when look to science to advance understanding and develop solu
their knowledge leads them to a preferred conclusion. tions. Indeed, Turner (2013) has argued that in Canada what
Others maintain that if scientists and their evidence and can be characterized as a "war on science" had occurred, as
interpretations are to be credible, they should not be seen some government leaders strove to control science, especially
to favour any particular solution. For example, if a sci- when its findings challenged or led to questions about
entist is a known advocate of the use of herbicides and government's priorities, policies, or programs. Such ten s100
pesticides to enhance agricultural production, would between political leaders and scientists is not a recent phe
that person's evidence supporting the use of herbicides
n_om~non (Hut~hings et al., 1997; Wagner, 2001), b~t sueh~ ada-
and pesticides be viewed as credible? Even if scientists s1on mcreased m the last decade at a national level in Can
can separate their basic values from their scientific Characteristics of the war on science include:
understanding, there is a danger that they will be per-
ceived to favour a particular viewpoint, leaving doubt in 1. Closmg
. or sh arply reducing funds for governrnent units .
some people's minds as to whether data, interpretations, . .
or orgamzations whose research has produce d fi10dings
conclusions, and recommendations from such a scientist
have been "contaminated" by those values.
~h~~ q~estion or could be used to challenge governlll:'.
tmttatlves. Examples include the elimination of the lo gf
form census by Statistics Canada in 2010 the closing o
The dilemma, of course, is that nobody is value-free or
t he fiederal National Roundtable on the' Environllle11t
value-neutral. so to suggest that scientists can or should be and the Economy, t he wit
h drawing offederal fun gfro!ll
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, Re ources, and Socie ty 9

the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, and

the budget cutbacks that led to termination of the Polar llle NoRrneRN GaTewar
Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL), DeLiBBRaTiON PRocess:
all in 2012, with PEARL receiving new funding in May 2013.
2. Not allowing government scientists to publish their
research findings in journal articles or to present them at
Wf.Ll 1141S ISA
conferences unless the material has first been reviewed NOBRAINER ...
and approved by the relevant minister's office.
3. When government scientists make a conference presen-
tation or are interviewed by the media, having a spokes-
person from the relevant minister's office accompany
them and determine which questions can be answered.
This approach was highlighted at the International Polar
Year conference in 2012, when each Environment Canada
scientist was accompanied by a media person who lis-
tened to responses and answered follow-up queries him-
One view of the interaction between government and science.
or herself Another example occurred in the autumn of
2010, when an Environment Canada scientist was not
allowed to discuss with journalists his paper related to
ozone layer research which already had been published The Northern Gateway
in an international journal.
4. Discrediting or raising questions about research find-
ings that challenge a government's priorities, policies, One of the highest-profile issues relating to the role of sci-
or programs. ence, policy, and environmental decision-making in Canada
for several decades is the proposal to build a pipeline from the
Turner (2013: 35) characterized the above initiatives as oil sands of Alberta to the BC coast to enable access to Asian
reflecting an attitude of "wilful blindness," meaning the markets (Mitchell, 2015: 3-10). The proposal has many inter-
government's determination not to allow science or social national ramifications, including the large increases in global
science data collection or research that might lead to ques- CO2 emissions and global warming that will result from the
tions about government policies. He concluded that such oil extraction, transport, and consumption. It has national
an approach places low value on "evidence-based" policy implications, including the scale of the project, the transprov-
and instead is guided mainly by ideology or values. Further incial issues raised, the federal jurisdictions involved, and
examples can be found in Hutchings et al. (1997), who pro- the involvement with global trade. It also raises provincial,
vide specific details of what they term "bureaucratic interfer- regional, and local concerns over the place-specific impacts
ence" with government science related to fisheries research of the infrastructure required. There are also important eth-
and management regarding the collapse of the cod fishery ical issues related to the rights of Aboriginal peoples and to
in the northwest Atlantic (see Chapter 8), and to declines in whether, no matter what the monetary benefits, we should
the Pacific salmon fishery as water in the Nechako River in be making a major contribution to furthering the negative
British Columbia was diverted to meet the needs of an ALCAN impacts of the world's primary environmental problem.
aluminum plant in Kitimat. The Northern Gateway project is a 1,177-kilometre oil pipe-
In the international journal Nature, an editorial (2012: 6) line proposed by Enbridge, a Canadian energy company,
criticized the Canadian federal government's approach to sci- extending from the oil sands of northern Alberta to Kitimat
ence research, and indicated its approach contrasted sharply on British Columbia's north coast. This large project involves
to new policy by the United States federal government. For two parallel pipelines with capacity for 525,000 barrels of
example, the National Science Foundation in the US has bitumen daily, and is estimated to cost an initial $6.65 bil-
stipulated that scientists can express their views as long as lion. Such a pipeline would reduce the reliance of Alberta oil
they make it clear they are providing a personal opinion on an increasingly self-sufficient US market (see Chapter 7).
and are not speaking on behalf of their agency. In contrast, The federal government strongly supported the project,
O'Hara (2010: 501) commented that climate change scientists claiming that it would benefit all Canadians. The key cab-
at Environment Canada were barred from having interviews inet member, Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, also
with journalists from national or international media unless dismissed environmental concerns. In an open letter in early
they were first pre-approved by their minister's office. The 2012, he asserted that the federal government", . . would stand
rationale? To avoid causing surprises for the minister. up to environmental and other radical groups that would seek
. . also would cro the
PART A I }ntrod ur tion 1 The pipe1in .
10 spills from the pipe 1ne. d Many ofth m were opposed
any b nalban s, .
Oilunds lands ofover 50A ong1 . that spills would trigger ma1or
d<Po iii \ t the pipeline, due to wo~nes d thereby threaten the
;tt,. o .
negative env1ronmen
tal impacts an
bands were supportive,
. l'h d In contrast, some . h BC
bands' live 1 oo . b ted by the pro1ect. T e
of obs to e ere a

especially b ecause . . ments to be met before it

ecified five reqmre
government sp 1(British Columbia, 2012):
would support the proposa

ALBERTA Successful completion of an env ironmental

~algary review process. . .
BRITISH COLUMl!IA World-leading marine o1l-sp1ll res~onse, ~re-
. d recovery systems for BC s coastline
vent10n, an .
nage and mitigate nsks and
an d ocean to ma
costs from heavy-oil pipelines and shipments.
World-leading practices for land oil-spill pre-
FIGURE 1.1 I The routing of the pro posed pipeline, vention, response, and recovery systems to
showing crossing of Aboriginal territo ries and tanker routes. manage and mitigate risks and costs of heavy-
Source: Unist'ot'en Camp. oil pipelines.
uploadsl2oog/oJ/energy_enbridge_pipelin e_tanker_routes_y1 nkadene_
Address legal requirements regarding Aboriginal s
feb2012.jpg . 4.
and treaty rights, and provide First Nations with
opportunities, information and resources to par-
to block this opportunity to diversify our trade." In addition, ticipate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project. Jt
he stated that critics intended to "hijack" the environmental British Columbia receives a fair share of the fis- fl
assessment hearings, in order "to achieve their radical ideo- cal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy- 0

logical agenda." Oliver commented that there could be no oil project that reflects the level and nature of ti
doubt about the ideology of such opposition groups. They risk borne by the province, the environment, 11

intended to "stop any major project no matter what the cost and taxpayers.
to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No
forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric
Although initially the Alberta government rejected the
dams" (Oliver, 2012).
BC government's arguments, it subsequently agreed to all
~h_e statement provides an interesting comparison between
five conditions.
poht~cal and scientific perspectives on resource decision-
makmg. Both groups were in favour of taking a broader The feder~l government established a National Energy
appro~c_h to the .pipeline assessment, but to the politicians Board panel m late 2009 to examine the Northern Gateway
oiipos1t1on to this one pipeline was likened to opposition t~ pi~eline . p~oposal and report before the end of 2013. The
a reslource developments, a view few Canadians would sup- pnme mmiS t er stated that such a panel indicated the federal
port. n contrast m
the p r h ' any scientists felt that the total impact of
ipe me s ould be conside d . l d'
the oil by Enb d , re ' me u mg the burning of
n ge s customers rathe th .
of transporting th 1 f ' r an Just the effects
e 01 rom Alberta tO th p . f'
They also called f e ac1 1c Ocean. Re,
. or an assessment h h
impacts of all the resource d \ w ere t e cumulative (20
account, rather than i t eve opments would be taken into
us on a case-by b . the
2014). Unfortunately the 1 . 11 -case as1s (Palen et al
. . , po 1tica y a d , tio1
reviewing the proposal would dis ppo1~te federal panel
perspectives, causing wides read cuss ne_1ther of these two pro
government had already de~ided srculation that the federal
There was a lot of t e outcotne.
c..1 concern about he .
onumbia. because it would t pipeline in British
"11rlu..!:- cross aenaitf
i_--is maa.y riven with spawru ve environtnents
wal u laaJsHcie-prone ng gtounds for saltno '
In. ad.ditioe. areas and the Great Bear . n, as
IC Wllldd shoulder moat 0 fth Rainforest.
ecoats ilristng
CloiAPTER ONE Envir onment, Resources, and Society 11

government would make its decision based on science rather

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _C>_ra_e_sl-dec
than politics. Some became skeptical of this pronouncement,
however, when in mid 2012 it became apparent that Fisheries TORY SCIENCE:
and Oceans Canada had not completed an environmental 1\IAT IF ASUPERTJ\N\m ~ns A
assessment of all the pipeline's proposed river crossings \.IUMPBACI< w'llA\.E. IT Will NOT
(Moore, 2012). Acknowledging this problem, Fisheries and Of ALBWAOILiD ASIA.
Oceans Canada stated that, if the pipeline were approved,
it would continue its studies during the subsequent regula-
tory permitting phase. The department spokesperson also
acknowledged that different conclusions could be drawn
based on the scientific data. This point was illustrated by ref-
erence to two river crossings by the pipeline. Fisheries and
Oceans Canada had concluded the risk of negative environ-
mental impacts was medium to high. In contrast, scientists
employed by Enbridge concluded the risk was low (Moore,
2012). A different concern was the risk of spills from tankers
moving oil through BC coastal waters, after loading oil at the The scope of the science undertaken by federal agencies for the National
Kitimat terminal. This issue was not included in the terms of Energy Board review was called into question by many scientists.
reference of the National Energy Board panel's review. More
significantly, the federal government had previously author-
ized tanker traffic along the BC coast. established and as part of the process for regulatory
In December 2013, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project authorizations and permits. The proponent clearly
Joint Review Panel (2013a; 2013b) published its two-volume has more work to do in order to fulfill the public
report. It recommended approval by the federal government commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal
of the proposed pipeline, subject to 209 conditions. The condi- groups and local communities along the route.
tions, which would be enforced by the National Energy Board,
include requirements for Enbridge Northern Gateway to: The government noted that the cost of the project had risen
to at least $7.9 billion. The prime minister and other spokes-
Develop a marine mammal protection plan persons for the Conservatives insisted t hat the approval deci-
Prepare a caribou habitat restoration plan sion was based on "science and evidence." However, others
Develop a training and education monitoring plan were more skeptical. For example, Ditchburn (2014: A6) noted
Prepare an enhanced marine spill trajectory and fate that in Ju ne 2014, ". .. 300 scientists and scholars signed an
modelling open letter urging Harper to reject the review panel's "flawed"
Develop a research program on the behaviour and cleanup findings, including its failure to consider the impact of green-
of heavy oils house-gas emissions from Alberta's oil-sands."
Conduct pre-operations emergency response exercises After the approval announcement, a group of First Nations'
and develop an emergency preparedness and response leaders announced they would work collectively in ". . . a
exercise and training program new push to halt the project through the courts, in public
campaigns, and-if necessary-by protests on the land"
In mid June 2014, six months after it received the Joint (Cryderman, 2014: A8). Their main worries included the pos-
Review Panel's recommendation, the government of Canada sibility of spills fro m oil tankers in coastal waters and loss of
(2014c) announced that, "After carefully reviewing the report, wildlife. Two dozen First Nations also stated that they would
the Government accepts the independent Panel's recommenda- be using all available legal means to oppose the pipeline
tion to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway pipeline's project. A significant challenge for the government regard-
proposal." The government (2014c) further commented that: ing First Nations in British Columbia is that most have never
signed treaties with the Crown, and many land claims are
Moving forwa rd, the proponent must demonstrate still not settled.
to the independent regulator, the NEB, how it will Christy Clark, premier of British Columbia, commented
meet the 209 conditions. It will also have to apply for that as ofJu ne 2014 Enbridge had satisfied just one of the con-
regulatory permits and authorizations from federal ditions stipulated by the BC government, which was to pass a
and provincial governments. In addit ion, consulta- federal environmental review. Since the BC government must
tions with Aboriginal communities are required issue up to 60 authorizations before the pipeline can proceed,
under many of the 209 conditions that have been it has a key role in the overall decision-making process.
12 PART A I Introduction

choices is a clear sense of where we want to go. What is the

Given the scale and breadth of opposition to the project,
desirable future that we want to create? Without a clear sense
the costs that are now estimated to be significantly higher
of direction, it is challenging to know what matters deserve
than $8 billion, and the global collapse in oil prices in late
priority and how to resolve trade-offs when conflicts occur.
2014 and early 2015, it could be that Enbridge has won the
The concept of"vision" often comes up in regard to establish-
battle but lost the war. There is no current statement from
ing a clear direction, and is discussed in Chapter 5.
Enbridge on this issue, but it may well b~ content with_rec-
In this section, however, we introduce two concepts-
ord $1 billion earnings in 2014, double its 2013 earnings,
and decide not to pursue the pipeline further at this time. sustainable development and resilience-often pointed to as
Nonetheless the proposal provides many insights about representing the kind of future to which we should aspire.
resource decision-making, uncertainty, change, and the role
of science in Canada. Sustainable Development
Sustainable development emerged in the late 1980s through
Wicked Problems the work of the World Commission on Environment and
The Northern Gateway project is also a good example Development. In directing us to pursue development that
of what has been termed a "wicked problem" (Rittel and meets the needs of the present without compromising the
Webber, 1973). Churchman (1967: B141) introduced the con- ability of future generations to meet their own needs, sustain-
cept and explained that wicked problems are ill-defined, able development stipulates that we consider both intra- and
with incomplete and/or contradictory information or inter- intergenerational equity. However, sustainable development
pretations, many stakeholders with values in conflict, and offers a major challenge, since it requires a re-examination of
an overall system and related issues that are uncertain and and shift in current values, policies, processes, and practices.
confusing. Churchman cautioned that, as a result of such fea- Sustainable development entails three strategic aspects. At
tures, solutions could trigger new problems worse than the one level, it presents a vision or direction regarding the nature
initial symptoms. of future societies. In sustainable societies, attention is given
A practical characteristic of wicked problems is that usu- to meeting basic human needs, achieving equity and justice
ally a single obviously correct solution does not exist. Instead, for present and future generations, realizing self-empower-
managers and decision-makers have choices among various ment, protecting the integrity of biophysical systems, inte-
options, each having strengths and limitations as well as grating environmental and economic considerations, and
uncertainties. As a result, to assess options, attention must keeping future options open. At a second level, sustainable
be given to recognizing the different values and priorities development emphasizes a system of governance and man-
of various stakeholders and to finding a solution that will agement characterized by openness, transparency, decentral-
achieve as many benefits as possible while minimizing dis- ization, and accessibility. It accepts the legitimacy oflocal or
advantages, including the likelihood of causing major new indigenous knowledge and seeks to incorporate such under-
problems or exacerbating existing ones. A realist also will standing with science-based knowledge when developing
recognize that undoubtedly the outcome will involve some strategies and plans. It also recognizes that conditions change
winners and losers and that not everyone will be thrilled with
the ~utcome. Regarding those who do not get what they hoped
for, it then becomes essential to explain the rationale for the
course taken , and , to the extent possi'ble, provide
. assistance
. to
Perspectives on the Environment

those who become disadvantaged.
To w~t extent does the Northern Gateway project repre- Sustainable Development
sent a wicked problem? What might a set of options look like
: :.i1: concerns of those fundamentally opposed
Sustainable development is development that meets the
needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs. It contains
within it two key concepts:
the concept of needs," in particular the essential needs
of the world's poor. to which overriding priority should
be given; and
the Idea of limitations imposed by the state of technol-
ogy and social organization on the environment's abil-
ity to meet present and future needs.
-WCEO. World Commission on Environment and Development
(1987: 43)
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, Re ources, and Society 13

and much uncertainty exists. Thus, it is necessary to be flex- herbicides or pesticides to control organisms detrimental to
ible and adaptable, thereby allowing for policies and practices such increased production, as discussed in Chapter 10. The
to be modified as experience accumulates. At a third level, ultimate goal is to move a system into some ideal state and
and related to specific places or resource sectors, sustainable sustain it in that state.
development seeks to ensure that economic, environmental, The dilemma, they note, is that reaching and sustaining
and social aspects are considered together and that trade-offs an ideal state assumes that future changes in the system
are visible and transparent to those affected. will be minor, incremental, and linear. In contrast, reality is
The concept of sustainable development has generated often the opposite. Systems are frequently altered through
both enthusiasm and frustration. The enthusiasm comes from "lurching and non-linear" changes. And, as we strive to use
those who believe that it provides a compelling vision for the resource systems efficiently, one outcome can be that desir-
twenty-first century, one with more attention to longer-term able redundancies are eliminated, since the goal is to retain
implications of development and to balancing economic, only features with immediate value. The ultimate outcome
social, and environmental considerations. The phrase "think is a drastic reduction in resilience. This perspective about
globally and act locally" reminds us that while ultimately the resilience fundamentally challenges the goal of aiming for
planet is a single system in which actions in one part often "sustainable development," as defined earlier. In the view of
have implications for other parts, resolution of problems also Walker and Salt,
requires significant action at the local level, thereby stimu-
lating self-empowerment, partnerships, and cooperative ... the more you optimize elements of a complex
approaches to management and development (see Chapter 6). system of humans and nature for some specific goal,
The frustration has come from those who believe that "sus- the more you diminish that system's resilience. A
tainable development" is so vague that it can be defined in drive for an efficient optimal state outcome has the
ways to suit different and often conflicting interests. Thus, effect of making the total system more vulnerable to
developers like the concept because they can argue that shocks and disturbances.
growth must continue if basic human needs are to be met
and if standards of living are to continue to rise. In contrast, The bottom line for sustainability is that any pro-
environmentalists support the concept because they can use posal for sustainable development that does not
it to argue that environmental integrity must be given prior- explicitly acknowledge a system's resilience is sim-
ity if there is to be long-term and equitable development. ply not going to keep delivering goods (or services).
How do you think such incompatibilities and tensions can The key to sustainability lies in enhancing the resili-
be reconciled? ence of social-ecological systems, not in optimizing
A related concept, developed by J. Elkington (1994) in the isolated components of the system. (2006: 9)
1990s, is triple bottom line (TBL or 3BL), also referred to as
the 3Ps (people, planet, and profit). Used by both for-profit Do you think "resilience" provides an alternative or is
and not-for-profit sectors, the TBL approach goes beyond the complementary to "sustainable development"? If you con-
conventional business focus on profits, return on invest- clude that either of these two concepts contains major flaws,
ment, and shareholder value to incorporate attention to both what alternative "vision" would you propose to help guide us
environmental and social aspects (Slaper and Hall, 2011: 4). toward a desirable future condition? As you reflect on your
TBL has the same challenge as sustainability, however. As view, consider the ideas provided by Ryan Plummer in the
Slaper and Hall (2011: 4) observe, the challenge is not how to accompanying "Domestic Guest Statement" about resilience.
define TBL, but how to measure it because economic or finan- The question of sustainable development and Canada's
cial, social and environmental components do not have com- progress will be reviewed in a later section. The next sec-
mon measurement units. tion provides a quick snapshot of the global context for
environmental management in the face of increasing
human pressures.
Walker and Salt (2006: 1) define r ilience as "the ability of a The Global Picture
S}'lltemto absorb distwbance and still retain its basic function
and structure. However, they observe that resource manage- Our home, planet Earth, is different from all the other planets
ment~ pnctiee" focuses on optimizing partiro- we know. As it hurtles through space at 107,200 kilometres
lat goods or sakes from a natural resource system. Such per hour, an apparently infinite supply of energy from the
e>ptimir.atien usual1y achieved by taking specific compon- sun fuels a life-support system that should provide perpetual
ents fiom'. ~rm-.~stij~~"cositrolling other components. sustenance for Earth's passengers. Unfortunately, this seems
An exampe t,e~:il'la:eue a-op production by using not to be the case. Organisms are becoming extinct at rates
14 PART A / Introdu c tion

. l R uence
Some Reflections on Social-Ecolog1ca es,
I Ryan Plum.mer
. .
dy how resilience thinking could be
and partners to st u
I landed at the Arlanda airport and took the high-speed eco- . t d n watershed stewardship in Canada. The team
friendly" train. the Arlanda Express, into Stockholm, _swede~. ,mplemen e 1 N B
mond River watershed in ew runswick
focuse d on th e Ham
After dropping my bags at the Mornington Hotel, I 1m_~ed1- han River watershed on Vancouver Island
and the CowIc
ately wen t to Stockholm University, the site of Res1l1ence . . c
20 0 8 . Enthusiasm about resilience was clearly apparent as I
Bnt1sh o Ium b'Ia . Participant concerns regarding steward. -
ship and issues experienced in these watersheds are evident
entered the Aula Magna and registered for the conference.
y places in Canada . The research team developed a
Th e eagerness in the air continued and intensified over t~e in man T .
workshop by drawing upon work by the Res, 1ence ~ll1ance
next several days as approxi mately 600 people engaged with
(a consortium of institutions. organizations. and 1nd1viduals
the idea of resilience. This fi rst major international conference
with a shared interest in resilience; see Resilience Alliance in
on resilience was just one of the seminal events that made
2008 "the year resilience was put on th e map." The Stockholm
"Related Websites at the end of this chapter) and scholars
Resilience Centre, host of the conference, was in its start-up internationally. The workshop was delivered to the steward-
phase, with an investment of 205 million SEK (about Cdn$31 ship groups to introduce resilience thinking and demonstrate
million in 2014) to build a world- leading research centre. how it could be applied to their respective watersheds. As the
While 2008 may have been the year that resilience was put participants worked through the resilience exercises. they
on the map, ideas about resilience date back to the 1970s. identified values of and threats to the watershed at multiple
Ecology was not the only discipline in which researchers were sca les, explored options to address known disturbances,
interested in resilience, as the term and concept emerged at and contemplated trade-offs in preparing for surprises.
the same time in psychology. Since that time. an integrative Resilien ce thi nking adds to previous watershed planning
and complex systems perspective has developed. Social- exercises by getting stakeholders to think deeply about the
ecological resilience has become centra l to cu rren t scholarshi p linkages between social and ecological systems. roles of
and practice because it acknowledges the interconnection s system dyna mics an d interco nnections between scales. and
or linkages between humans and Nature. Resilience thin kin g, responses (capa city fo r ada ptation and transformation) to
an organizing framework in the context of dynamic social- both known and un know n disturba nces . To learn more about
ecological systems. is informed by three central ideas: (1) resi li - the resilience analysis workshop in t he Cowichan watershed
ence-the capability of a system to absorb disturbances and see POLIS Water Su stainability Project in "Related Websites at
reorganize, while keeping the same identity; (2) adaptability- th e end of th is chapter.
the capability of stakeholders to influence resilience; and (3)
transformability-the ability to develop into a different ki nd
of_ system when/if the present system is untenable. Popular
s~ience publications by the Stockholm Resilience Centre pro -
vide an ~xc_ellent introduction to resilience and applying res ili -
ence thinking (see Stockholm Resilience Centre in "Related
Websites at the end of this chapter).
Canada is a vibrant place for resilience research . It builds on
an established record of studying the environment in Canada
and occurs thr?ughout the country in diverse contexts.
Research associated with resilience encompasses a .d
range_ of topics. Examples include multi-level governa~~ee
adaptive co-management, regime shifts soc1a1 . . .
, innovation
rio d~prnent an!';i modelling.
~ problem~
d -Upon multiple
derstanding), Chinook almon capture on the C .
upported Fir t at' 1. l'h owichan, where th almon ba,e
ion ive I oods f, .
everely threatened b or centune . In 2014 th run were
y unprecedented d h h t
run dry. The e kind f th roug t t at a\\ th ri\ er alrno-
fiuture as a re ult of 1o reat are l"k 1 e IY to b more pre al. nt 111
. tItt'

c imate chan d . f
enhanced r ilience for b0 th ge an empha 12 the importance 0
- _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ =--natural a d h
n umun system!'-.
CHAPTER ONE Environment, R ource , an d ocicty 15

Resilience is a proliferating discourse in Canada . It is receiv- Ryan Plummer, PhD, 1s a professor at Brock
ing considerable attention from scholars, practitioners, University 1n St. Cathannes. where he is also
policy-makers, and even the media . Nevertheless, it is import- the director of the Environmental Sustainability
ant to also think critically about the concept. Resilience has Research Centre and of the Sustainability
Science and Society graduate program . As well,
several meanings . Care is required in defining the term and a;
E he is a senior research fellow at the Stockholm
understanding the concept. The manner in which resilience is 5
ii: Resilience Centre (Sweden). His program of
framed and the possibility and appropriateness of measuring
research broadly concerns the governance and
it raise questions about its usefulness for evaluation. resilience of social-ecological systems.

unsurpassed for at least 65 million years. These extinctions established the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance
cover all life forms and probably represent the largest orgy the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and their
of extinction ever in the 4.5-billion-year history of the planet. contributions to human well-being. Some 1,360 experts from
Our seas are no longer the infinite sources of fish we thought 95 countries were involved in the assessment and concluded
they were. Our forests are dwindling at unprecedented rates. that environmental degradation was occurring faster than
Even the atmosphere is changing in composition and mak- at any time in the past, that many of the changes are non-
ing the spectre of significant climatic change a reality. Every linear, and once they start, the processes of degradation will
raindrop that falls on this planet bears the indelible stamp of increase rapidly. These positive feedback loops are discussed
the one organism bringing about these changes-you and us. more extensively in Chapter 4 and throughout the rest of the
Awareness of the dominant influence of humans on planetary book. Since the landmark UN assessment, many subsequent
processes has led scientists to consider formal designation scientific papers have documented the continuing trend of
of a new epoch, the Anthropocene, in the Earth's evolution rapid environmental degradation described in the MEA, and
(Box 1.1). these papers are also referenced in subsequent chapters.
Concern over this situation led to the request by UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000 to assess the rela-
tionship between planetary ecosystems and the demands
placed on them by human activity. Between 2001 and 2005, One main variable that affects our impact on the planetary
the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment examined the con- life-support system is the number of passengers being sup-
sequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and ported. Although countless billions of passengers-from

ENf.1/!?-0NMENfT IN FOCUS , .~
BOX 1 . 1 I The Anthropocene
The International Union of Geological Sci ences (IUGS) char- w ith in th e Quaternary perio d) mu st be defined with refer-
acterizes the epoch that started about 11,700 yea rs ago. after ence to new boundaries in ro c k strata. Those who support
the last major ice age. as the Holocene, meaning "entirely that view argue that th e Anthropocene has no suc h defin -
recent: However, some scientists, including Eugene Stoermer itive benchmark to ind icate when it beg an as an epoch and
and Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, have recently proposed that therefore is inappropriate. Supporters of the Anth ropocene
I. term for today is the "Anthropocene: from anthro, concept acknowledg e th e difficulty in setting a start date,
me.nlng "human; and cene meaning new: The rationale but argue that it began durin g the early 1800s, driven by the
tha't Kl the recent past and today. humans are significantly Industrial Revolution. The key poi nt, they argue. is that the
the atmosphere through greenhouse gas emissions, Anthropocene highlights that humans are significa ntly affect-
cause climate change; causing serious pollution of ing the planet in its entirety.
triggering extinctions of animal and plant species. The IUGS has assem bled a workin g group of scientists to
proponents of the term "Anthropocene argue that determine by 2016 as to w hether the Holoce ne is over and a
the era m Which we live because people have new epoch to be called the Anthropocene has started with in
dominant force Influencing the global environment. the Quaternary period .
'-' ~ - _a series of terms (Quaternary, Tertiary. What are your thoughts about the appropriateness of
:frt~ ~ to characterize different Anthropocene as a new epoch? What value cou ld it have in
~tjpg,and argues that any geological reminding people that humans have become a major force in
dk ~ n e and Pleistocene. both shaping the evolution of our environment and planet?
l> PART A I lntro.lurtion
s ing a nd t ransportation of
tl peed up t h pro Ce .
n d grea Y d 12 for more discussion on this).
I ( e Chapters 2 an
maten a b 'll' huma ns now draw upon the planetary
More than 7.3 1 ion h I d
ustenance before t e n ustnal
life-support ys tem or ' . .
. re fewer than a 611 hon. Another result
Revolut10n, t 11ere we .
. d y consumption is the pollution that now
of m crease energ . .
chokes this life-support sy tern and is causing unprecedented
human-induced changes in global climate.
An estimated 4 .3 people are born every second around
the world. By April 2015 the Earth supported ove r 7.3 bil-
lion people. For a sense of how rapidly population growth
i occurring, check the population "worldometer" (see
"Worldometers" in "Related Websites" at the end of this chap-
ter) which provides a live count of population increase. The
United Nations forecasts an increase to 9.6 billion people
by 2050 and 10.9 billion by 2100 (UN Population Division,
2014), representing more than 80 million additional people
per year to feed. This scenario assumes that replacement-level
fertility rates are maintained. A high-variant scenario, which
assumes slightly higher fertility rates, places global popula-
tion at 10.9 billion by m id-century and 16.6 billion by the end
of the twenty-first century. Very small differe nces in fertility
insects to the great blue whale-are on board planet Earth, assumptions can make a large d ifference in population levels.
we are mainly concerned with those who seem to be having The figures quoted above represent an increase from those
the greatest impact on the system-humans, or Homo sapiens. made only a couple of years before, as fertility rates seem to
This species, along with a few others such as rats and cock- be declining more slowly than had been projected earlier,
roaches, has experienced a staggering increase in population and death rates are falling rapidly in some regions. In fact,
numbers over the past century. the fertility rates in 15 high-fertility sub-Saharan countries
The steep curve of population increase, shown in Figure 1.2, have increased by more than 5 per cent, rather than declining
coincides with the time that humans learned how to exploit as predicted.
the vast energy supplies of past photosynthetic activity lain Much of the projected increase will occur in less developed
down as coal and oil in the Earth's crust. Until then, energy countries, where populations in the UN's medium scen-
supplies had been limited by daily inputs from the sun. ario are predicted to grow by 33 per cent between 2005 and
The discovery of this new treasure house of energy allowed
2050, compared to only 2.4 per cent in developed countries
humans to increase food supplies dramatically and improve
(~igure 1.3). By 2050, according to a UN forecast, the popula-
tions of the world's 50 least developed countries will increase
-~ . 1f.~f,7'.
~y 5~ per cent. China's massive population (just over 1.4 bil-
., lion ~n 2015) would continue to grow until 2030, when eco
nomic growth would trigger reductions in fertility, and level
Perspectives on the Environment o~t at around 1.47 billion. India (1.28 billion in 2015) is pre
The P ti f Youth dieted to overtake China as the most populous country on
Earth by 2030 and continue to grow until 20601 when it would
peak at 1.7 billion people. Nigeria (182 million in 2015) would
~!so experie~c: rapid ~rowth, with the population increas
g to 288 million, while that of Bangladesh (160 million in
? ?)
2 1
would reach 2 54 million. Almost all of the additional 3.7
b111100 people from n .
t .
. ow o 2100 w1 11 enlarge the population
of d eve1opmg co t p
un nes. rom 2013 to 2100 eight countries
are expected to account fi h 1 ' d
. . or over a f of the world's projecte
popu1at1on mcrease N' . . f
Tan h igena, India, the United Republic o
zama, t e Democratic R bl'1
Ethiopia d h . epu c of Congo Niger Uganda,
' an t e United St f ' ' .
to the size of th , . ates O America, listed according
eir contnbut' h
ion to global population growt
CHAPTER ONE I Envi r onment , R esources, a n d ocie t y 17

BOX 1.2 I Population and Exponentia l Growth

Population change is a result of the interaction between On t he o ther hand, some pundits, particularly economists,
births and deaths. The crude birth rate (CBR) minus the crude
feel that more population simply furnishes more resour-
death rate (CDR) will yield the crude growth rate (CGR), all
ces- human resources-upon which to build increases in
usually expressed as per thousand of the population per wea lth for the future . Indeed, there are concerns that some
year. In this way, populations of different countries, reg ard -
develo ped countries will start losing population in the future
less of their size, can be compared. The figures are knownand that thi s w ill have a negative impact on the ir economies.
as 'crude" because they give no insights into factors such as
For example, Japan is predicted to lose 20 per cent of its
age and sex ratios, figures that are very important for under-
po pulation by 2050, with declines also expected to take
standing future potential growth. If CBR and CDR are equal, a
place in Germany, Russia, and Italy. In both the US and Can-
zero population growth will result if the effects of migrat ion
ada, the trend is predicted to move in the opposite direction,
are excluded. largely as a result of immigration. By 2050, it is estimated
ln 1798, a British clergyman, Thomas Malthus, pointed out
that Canada's population (35 .7 million in 2014) will have
that population growth was geometric or exponential (i.e., 2,
increased to 37 million through immigration, despite a fertil-
4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and so on), whereas the growth in food supply
ity rate of 1.5 children per woman .
was arithmetic (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on). This pheno m enon,
Political leaders in some of the less developed coun-
said Malthus, would inevitably lead to famine, disease, and w ar.
tries experiencing the most rapid population growth rates
have argued that population growth per se is not a problem
Such a viewpoint was not popular in his day, when population
growth was considered very beneficial. For many years, the and that the main problem is overconsumption in the more
Malthusian view was ignored. The opening up of new lands developed countries. This distributive concern is echoed
for cultivation in North America and the southern hemisphere
by women's groups-also wary of coercive birth control
and later the development of Green Revolution techniques programs-who think that most progress can be achieved by
(Chapter 10) allowed food supplies to increase ra pidly. improving the status of women . Women with more education
Increasing numbers of experts, watching the decline usually have smaller, healthier families, and their children have
in food supplies per capita over the past few years (see a better chance of making it out of poverty. Yet two - thirds
Chapter 10) and the increase in population, particularly in less
of the world's 876 million people who can neither read nor
developed countries, now feel that the Malthusian spectre is
write are women, and a majority of the 115 million children
not attending school are girls. Women who have the choice
quite real. More than 80 million people are added every year
to the population in less developed count ries, com pared to
of delaying marriage and child - bearing past their teens also
about 1.6 million in more developed countries. Figure 1.2 have fewer children than teen brides. Yet more than 100 mil-
illustrates how global population has grown over the centur-
lion girls will be married before their eighteenth birthday dur-
ies and millennia. ing the next decade.
However, starting with the land -
7 mark 1994 International Conference
on Population and Development (ICPD)
at which 179 governments adopted a
forward - looking, 20-year Program of
Action, remarkable progress has been
made on achieving consensus on
approaches to population control. The
4 ~ ICPD Program of Actio n, som etim es
Q) 0
a. referred to as the Cairo Consensus, rec-
C. 3 o ognized that reproductive health and
u C rights, as w ell as women's empower-
.c 2
iii ment and gender equality, are corner-
CD stones of population and development
1 programs. Furthermore, at the 2005
World Summit. the largest-ever gath-
ering of world leaders reaffirmed the
8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 BCE CE 1000 2015 need to keep gender equality. HIV/AIDS,
and reproductive health at the top of
Fl I The growth of human population over time. the development agenda.
20 PART A / Introduction
someone to look after them as th ey age: Large farnilies
although the average annual global population growth rate also compensate for the high rate of child mortality in
has fallen from more than 2 per cent, where it was from the
pre-industrial societies.
1950s to the 1990s, to less than 1.3 per cent today, that rate is Low expanding. Birth rates start to fall as the benefits of
being applied to a much larger and still increasing popula- 3. increased income begin to erode the advantages of hav.
tion. Furthermore, after early declines in fertility rates, the ing large families. In Western s_ocieties, whe~e- the cost
rates in many countries have now reached a plateau. . of raising children is high, havmg large families is no
The tragedy of HIV/AIDS, although having a strong impact
longer an overall economic benefit.
on some countries, will not have a significant impact on global
Low equilibrium. Birth rates and death rates are in bal.
population. HIV reached a peak over the past dec~de in most 4.
ance as a result of the decline in birth rates.
countries highly affected by the epidemic; a growmg number
of them are reaching and maintaining lower levels. However,
As with most simplified models, the model can be criti-
in southern Africa, the region with the highest prevalence of
cized because of its generality, being largely based on
the disease, life expectancy fell from 62 years in 1990-1995
European experience, and not taking a full range of cultural
to 52 years in 2005-2010 and is only recently beginning to
factors into account. Moreover, a fifth phase to the model is
increase. Life expectancy in the region is not expected to
emerging in some nations, illustrated in Figure 1.5, as total
recover to the level where it was in the early 1990s until 2030.
Another important consideration is the speed of the demo- populations fall.
graphic transition in each country. Demographers, those Historically, the decline in death rates (the epidemio-
who study population structure and growth, have noted a logical transition) in most developed countries was relatively
relationship between economic growth and population that slow. Discoveries about the causes of disease and how they
occurs in four main phases (Figure 1.5): could be countered were made in conjunction with growing
interest and investments in science. For example, in the late
1. High equilibrium. Both death and birth rates are high, 1800s Louis Pasteur and others discovered the main infec-
resulting in very little population growth. This situation tious agents and the means by which they were transmit-
usually occurs in pre-industrial societies. ted. Vaccines were created, and whole populations became
2. High expanding. Advances in health care result in declin- immune to diseases such as typhoid and smallpox. By the
ing mortality rates but show no concomitant decrease 1930s, antibiotics such as penicillin were being developed.
in birth rates, leading to high population growth. This These medications led to cures for many other ailments.
situation occurs in the early stages of industrialization Sanitation improved, as did nutrition. However, these innova
when some benefits of technology and industrial society tions took time, and the decline in crude death rates was grad-
are starting to be felt but are insufficient to outweigh ual in the developed world. In contrast, these innovations
the desire to have large families. Large families are an were made available in many less developed countries all
advantage in underdeveloped countries, providing more at once, often leading to a precipitous decline in death rates
labour to generate family income. Lacking the pension without a corresponding decrease in birth rates.
systems of more advanced societies, parents need to have Some countries travel through this sequence more quickly
than others, with rapid economic development fallowed by

Stage 1 2 3 4 5
0 C

25 40 .g
3 .!
a. a.
g_ 20 0
0 30 a.
0 0
0 0
,-i- 0
... 15 .-i
a. 20
2 10
5 10 iii
Total population
hat the_ future_ ~old in term of population growth depend on the
uctive decJSJons taken by today' children such a the M . o~--L__ _J~--1----1-~o
Lo] ' e aasai Time
nm tondo, Tanzania, as they grow up.
FIGURE 1 .5 I The demographic transition.
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, Resources, and Society 21

corresponding adjustments in birth rates. Thailand is a prime

example, where a fertility rate of 6.4 in 1960 fell to 1.8 in 2009, Turning point income

with economists forecasting further reductions, leading to a

future labour shortage. However, not all countries adjust as
rapidly as Thailand. In Thailand, a Buddhist country, there are Environmental
no religious obstacles to reducing family size, women play a
major role in household decision-making, education is valued
for both sexes, and there has been a latent demand for effective
contraception and effective means to distribute contraceptive
devices. These conditions often do not exist in many countries.
Another component of population growth, and one par-
ticularly important to Canada, is migration. Migration often
occurs in tandem with the demographic transition, and three
main types have been noted: first, rural to rural migration,
which can produce direct impacts on natural resources, often
through agricultural expansion; second, rural to urban migra-
tion, which is generally associated with increased patterns of
FIGURE 2..6 I The theoretical relationship between
energy use as well as meat and dairy consumption; and third,
environmental degradation and environmental
international migration, often accompanied by remittances
sent home, that may fuel further resource consumption in
some areas. Canada is projected by the UN to be the second-
largest recipient ofinternational migration in the world, after cannot afford. Thus, the goal of development planning was to
the US, up to the year 2050. help countries reach that threshold so that they could enjoy
Many scholars also feel that forced environmental migra- the benefits of increased wealth while not succumbing to
tion, already significant in some areas of the world, will environmental degradation. For some aspects, such as pol-
become an increasingly important phenomenon. It seems lution control, this relationship seems to hold. However, it is
likely, too, that adaptation planning and funding under the less reliable for other components, such as biodiversity con-
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will eventu- servation for which irreversible thresholds exist, and also for
ally include the development of strategies for resettling popu- some countries, especially small crowded ones.
lations from highly vulnerable areas such as small island Unfortunately, the relationship among society, stages of
states. A recent review of environmental migration found development, and economic growth is more complex than
that the most frequently studied environmental phenomena these models allow. In particular, they ignore one of the most
are (in decreasing order of significance): drought, land deg- (and many scientists would argue the single most) important
radation, flooding, access to contextually significant natural factors-the impact of consumption on the capability of plan-
resources, sea-level rise, other natural disasters, agricultural etary ecosystems to continue to provide life-support services.
productivity, and deforestation, and that most subsequent
migrations involve subsistence farmers moving short dis-
tances across relatively porous international boundaries
(Obokata et al., 2014). The Earth's passengers do not all have the same impact on
Recognition that the demographic transition was important the life-support system. Some passengers-those in first
in stabilizing population growth and that economic develop- class-get special meals, three times a day, wine included;
ment was a main driving force behind the transition was those in the economy section are lucky if they get one meal
also a factor in the drive to industrialize the world promoted and must buy their own water, if it is even available. The rich-
by many global organizations, such as the World Bank and est 20 per cent of the world's population are responsible for
the United Nations. Furthermore, a strong relationship was more than 75 per cent of world consumption, while the poor-
seen between some indicators of environmental degradation est 20 per cent consume less than 2 per cent (World Bank,
and economic growth, sometimes known as a Kuznet curve, 2008). In terms of metal use, for example, the 15 per cent of
after the economist who first theorized this relationship the global population in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia,
(Figure 1.6). As economic growth increases, so does environ- and Western Europe account for 61 per cent of aluminum use,
mental degradation-until a threshold is reached. After 60 per cent of lead, 59 per cent of copper, and 49 per cent of
that point, so it has been claimed, the wealth generated by steel. The average North American uses 22 kilograms of alum-
increased industrial activity is sufficient to pay for environ- inum a year, the average African less than 1 kilogram. Rural
mental services (e.g., pollution control) that poorer countries populations are significantly poorer than urban populations,
~rban Development Challenges and Human Living Conditions in Cities
m Developing Countries I Peter Adeniyi
Urban conditions tend to become worse where public policy
and programs do not secure needs required for sustainable
development at the local level. These needs include access
to adequate shelter, security of property tenure, sustainable
means of livelihood, safe drinking water and waste disposal,
a clean environment, and a sense of community. This is the
situation in most developing countries where urban develop-
ment plans are directed at regeneration and physical trans-
formation of slums and blighted areas with little regard to
needs of the poorest occupants.
The prevalence of slums and blighted areas in cities of
developing countries can be explained in two ways . First,
planning efforts are outpaced by sprawling expansion, which
breeds an ever-evolving urban sprawl with no guided growth
trajectory. People build houses and wait for the roads, water,
drainage, or electricity to come. The environment, aesthetics,
and common facilities are an afterthought. High-risk areas Agharandu Road, Ohazu Community, Ahia State, Nigeria.
such as flood plains, waste dumpsites, wetlands, and so on
are occupied by informal settlements constructed with every
conceivable material (raffia palms, nylon, pre-used corru- road and drainage conditions, waste disposal, noise and
gated iron sheets). The few available municipal basic servi- air pollution, and so on) receive negative ratings . Supply of
ces are provided through individual and communal efforts. public utilities (such as water and electricity) is either in poor
Second, planned residential developments soon become condition or completely absent. Access to employment is
degraded due to a population that has increased beyond the described as critical, and access to shelter, security, and the
carrying capacity of the limited old and decaying infrastruc- conditions of public schools, health care, and transportation
ture. In some cases these neighbourhoods are close to zones are poor. A large proportion of the population depends on
of major commercial activities, and their re-densification pure water ("treated" water packaged and sold in small poly-
often leads to degradation of the formal housing stock and ethylene sachets). In some neighbourhoods, a majority of
an upsurge of informal housing development on any available dwellers do not feel they ever have enough water for their
open space. Supply and utilization of basic urban services households' daily needs . However, social assets and networks
become inefficient and, over time, a once planned and livable are very strong in these slums. A large percentage belongs to
neighbourhood becomes a rundown slum .
Many Nigerian cities exemplify the two scenarios. A
study by the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban
Development (FMLHUD, 2014) in three cities-Kaduna (north),
Aba (southeast) and Oshogbo (southwest)- reveals that defi-
ciencies in infrastructure and basic services and an inability
to generate employment create serious challenges for man-
aging slum areas . The infrastructure deficiencies and tack of
access to basic municipal services often intensify other com-
posite vulnerabilities . For example, in Aba, a poor drainage
system combined with poor management of waste exa:er-
bates flooding, which. in turn, aggravates human health risks .
Every stage and kind of slum formation, from infancy to
consolidation, maturity, and gradual degradation of formal
housing, and every variety of informal housing dev:lo~ment
is found in these cities . Almost all environmental 1nd1~a~ors Dump, Unguwan anusi Community, Kaduna tale, igeria. --
1" building
(building appearance, number of people 1v1ng ,n a ,
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, R esource , and ociety 23

at least one social group (religious, tribal, trade, and landlords' to sustai n o utputs . The strategies are expected to be achieved
or residents' associations). A sig nifica nt percentage is wi lling through synergy among various stakeholders comprising
to volunteer their professional services, personal labour, an d govern ments at all levels, private investors, development
finance and thereby mobilize community members to sup - partners, and the communities . This inclusive participatory
port government efforts. arrangement would seem to provide a sustainable platform
Well-targeted investments in progra ms to improve urban for mobilizing resources to improve the living conditions of
environmental conditions and basic infrast ruc ture are essen- the teeming slum dwellers and to prevent future development
tial for the cities of developing co untries to ac hieve th ei r full of urban slums in the developing world .
potential. Provision of basic urban se rvices re main s a precon -
dition to address t he key challen ges and aspiratio ns of city
dwellers, but governments in developing countri es do not Peter Olufemi Adeniyi, an Emeritus Professor at
have enough capacity to mobilize the enormous resources ;;. the University of Lagos, Nigeria . specializes in
remote sensing, geographic information sys-
required to deliver. A partnership w ith development partners, j tems, and resource appraisal. He has served as
private investors, and the co mmunities is vital. In Nigeria, vari- ~
Vice-Chancellor. Federal University of Technol-
ous short-, medium-, and long -term st rategies have been g ogy. Ak ure, Nigeria (2002-2006); Head and
outlined to revita lize identi fi ed slum s and blighted areas. i National Coordinator of Ru ral Development Data
These range from immediate interventi ons, such as provision f
in t he then Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural
of potable drinking water, rehab ilitation of roads, and clear- Infrastructure (DFRRI); and Chairman. Committee
ance of drai nage ditches and waste dumps, to longer- term o n National Inventory of Community- Based Infrastructural Facilities in
investments in t he design and provi sion o f municipal infra- Nigeria . He is currently the Chai rman of the Presidential Technical Com-
structures and policy implementation options that encoura ge mittee o n Land Reform and a membe r of the Africa Techni cal Advisory
slum dwellers to leverage existing asset bases and networks Group o n Land Governance Assessment Framework.

and one of the main drivers of future consumption will be the rate than Americans (Figure 1.7). Each Canadian consumes
increased urbanization of global populations (Chapter 13). as much energy as 60 Cambodians. Government policies
In the above "International Guest Statement," Peter Adeniyi encourage us to be wasteful by subsidizing energy produc-
highlights challenges created by greater urbanization in tion, and we as individuals normally do not resist. Energy is
developing nations. a good index of our planetary impact, reflecting our ability
Energy consumption is also very unequally distributed, to process materials and disrupt the environment through
with the people in the wealthiest countries using 25 times pollution such as acid precipitation (Chapter 4) and the pro-
more per capita than the world's poorest people. More than a duction of greenhouse gases (Chapter 7). However, as shown
third of the global population does not have access to electri- in Figure 1.8, there is no direct relationship between electri-
city, but demands are growing. There are also large differen- city consumption and human development. In other words,
ces in energy consumption among developed countries, with it is possible to have high standards of living without exces-
the average Canadian and American consuming 2.4 times as sive energy consumption, as exemplified by many European
much energy as the average person in Western Europe. countries. Canada has yet to make this transition.
Canadians are among the top per capita consumers ofenergy
in the world, with an even larger electricity consumption

,12 a;_aN DEi ,
Persp ectives on the Environment NUDI ~JY
In 2008. the world reached an invisible but momentous
milestone: for the first time in history, more than half its
human population, 3 .3 billion peop le, live in urban areas. Alt hough much is being done th rough-
By 2030, this number is expected to swell to almost s bil- out the world to curb population
lion. Many of the new urbanites w ill be poor. Their future. grow th, as se n in this ignboard in
i tnam encouragi ng couple to hav
the future of cities in developing countries, the fu ture
only one child, consumption knows no
of humanity itself all depend very much on decisions
bound (and w art" continuou ly ex-
made now.
horted to buy more). "I want that'' i
Source. United Nati ons Population Fund (2007b) . the logan of our time .
PART A / Introduc tion


16,000 Gl<
2 14,000 bein1
12,000 8 rni
QI pove
~ 10,000 houi
0 forg
::::<ti othe
3: 6,000 issu
~ H
2,000 by;
::.:: >, 0 <ti V, <ti C
:::, .!!! C
'iij :::,
.N "O
C V 0..
>, 'vi QI
'ti 2V,
:.c ..:x: x
~ ,...,a. 1.9:
C <ti QI C
<ti C <ti V,
a. ..!!! en 'ci. .
~ a5
::i C
C <ti
~ ~
..!!! E a: V, u 'iij QI >, :.i:
::i LL. ai ai .c :E I.LI 0
g <ti
a.. pm
<! 'ti
..., <..'.) I-
. :.c
a.. a d!
V, z
is C

FIGURE 1.7 I Annual electricity consumption per capita.

Source: Wo rld Bank Wo rld De ve lopment Indicators (2014).
Obviously, very different kinds of passengers share our produced for final consumption in an economy during one WE

planet, and the differences among them have grown rather year. Over the past two decades, the planetary GNP has risen th1
than diminished as a result ofincreased wealth over the past 20 by $47 trillion, but only 15 per cent of this increase has trickled
years. Gross national product (GNP) is an index used by econo- down to the 80 per cent of the passengers in the economy sec-
mists to compare the market value of all goods and services tion of the spaceship. The rest has made the rich even richer.

l .O -.------------N-,-e_t_h_e...,.rla_n_d_s---------------~
/ US Canada
S ain Italy U~ Japan Australia
0.9 P \ ..____, France
Ch~le Germany
. Poland South Korea
0.8 Mexico I
, Russia
~ 0.7 e-::_

Ukraine Sau d'' Ara b',a
"O ~ Indonesia South Africa
C 0.6
QI 1raq
E , : India
0.5 Pakistan
> Congo (Kinshasa)

o.4 I
0.3 Ethiopia Central and South America
Developing Asia
Industrialized countries
0.2 Africa
Middle East
Eastern Europe and former
0.1 USSR

0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000 10,000 12,000 14,000 16,000
Annual per capita electricity use (kWh)

FIGURE 1.8 I The relationship between energy use and the Human Development Index.
Source: UNDP (2005).
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, Resource , and ociety 25

Global poverty is a major challenge to planetary survival. many different scales. Although in the past many cultures
Living in extreme poverty (less than $1 a day) means not violated the carrying capacities of their local environments
being able to afford the most basic necessities. An estimated with dire results, never before have we approached these lim-
8 million people a year die from absolute poverty. Moderate its at a global scale.
poverty, defined as earning about $1 to $2 a day, enables Clear evidence indicates that critical thresholds are being
households to just barely meet their basic needs but still reached and surpassed. Rockstrom and his colleagues (2009)
forgo many of the things-education, health care-that many have looked at the scale of these changes and propose that
others take for granted. The smallest misfortune (e.g., a health nine main planetary processes shown in Figure 1.9 need to
issue, job loss) threatens survival. be taken into account. Change in these is often non-linear,
However, progress is being made with the first Millennium and when certain thresholds are crossed there may be sud-
Development Goal target-to cut the 1990 poverty rate in half den and irreversible change with enormous consequences
by 2015-being achieved five years ahead of schedule, in 2010. for the Earth as the home of humanity. Their work identifies
However, 17 per cent of people in the developing world, 1 bil- thresholds for each of climate change; rate of biodiversity loss
lion people, still live at or below $1.25 a day, compared with (terrestrial and marine); interference with the nitrogen and
1.91 billion in 1990. Progress has also been made at higher phosphorus cycles; stratospheric ozone depletion; ocean acid-
poverty lines, with 2.2 billion people living on less than US $2 ification; global freshwater use; change in land use; chemical
a day, the average poverty line in developing countries. That pollution; and atmospheric aerosol loading.
is only a slight decline from 2.59 billion in 1981. Three of these system processes have already exceeded the
safe operating zones: rate of biodiversity loss (see Chapter 14),
Nine Planets?? climate change (see Chapter 7), and interference with the
nitrogen cycle (see Chapter 4). The implications of these chan-
The stresses on the planetary life-support system are a con- ges are discussed in more detail in the chapters indicated.
sequence of overconsumption and the resulting pollution, as What is interesting about this approach is the perspective of
well as overpopulation and the resulting poverty. Together, setting scientifically determined biophysical preconditions
they create pressure on the planetary carrying capacity at for human development and the need to stay within those

L E 1 .9 I Beyond the boundary. The inner green shad ing represents the proposed
safe operating space for nine planetary systems. The red wedges represent an estimate
of the current position for each variable. The boundari es in th ree systems (rate of
biodiversity loss, climate chan ge, and hu man interferen ce with the nitrogen cycle) have
already been exceeded.
Source ':_ockstrom et al (2009 : 427). Copyright 2009, Rights Managed by Nature Publishing Group
26 PART A I Introduction

boundaries. Violating these boundaries will result in a noted env1 ronmental degradation, and discrimination aga1ns.
women. Placed at the heart of the global agenda, the ei h
loss in the resilience of the Earth in its ability to produce the
goods and services necessary to support humanity.
objectives, now called the Millenniu~ Development Ga:~
(MDGs), aim to improve human well-bemg. These goals are
Jared Diamond, a geographer at UCLA, has written a fascin-
ating book on why past societies collapsed and what we can
learn from their experiences. Appropriately, the book is titled 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Collapse (2005), and we strongly recommend it. Diamond 2. Achieve universal primary education
suggests that four main reasons explain why societies fail to 3. Promote greater gender equality and empower wornen
make corrections to prevent societal collapse. They may not 4. Reduce child mortality
anticipate the problem; they may fail to appreciate the sever- 5. Improve maternal health
ity of the problem even though they are aware of it; they may 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
appreciate the problem but neglect to address it; and they may 7. Ensure environmental sustainability
perceive the problem as a serious threat, try to solve it, and fail. 8. Develop a global partnership for development
Diamond explores examples of all these situations. However,
his main message is to alert us to how we can forestall such a Under each of the MDGs, countries agreed to targets to b
collapse in modern society. At the heart of Diamond's analysis achieved by 2015. Many of the regions facing the greatest cha~
is the role of environmental degradation in causing societal lenges in achieving these targets coincide with regions facin
collapse. One of his most sobering conclusions is that many of the greatest problems of ecosystem degradation. Progress 0 !
the societies that collapsed were very successful and collapse individual MDGs is discussed in several chapters while over-
seemed impossible, yet it happened with frightening rapidity. all progress is summarized in Chapter 15. The use of indica.
There have been many warnings about the impact of tors is discussed in greater detail later in this chapter.
environmental degradation on society in the future, span- The evidence for and causes of global climate change are
ning back to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) of a half- discussed in more detail in Chapter 7, along with Canada's
century ago and including the famous Limits to Growth study response. However, the implications of climate change are
of the early 1970s (Meadows et al., 1972) through to the report very severe for Canada, with temperature increases over the
of the World Commission on Environment and Development land about double the global average. Canada has the second-
in 1987 (WCED, 1987). Some of the trends were highlighted highest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world.
at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and at the Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to target a 6 per cent
World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg cut in emissions by 2012. Instead, emissions increased by
10 years later. 29 per cent, putting the country 35 per cent above its Kyoto
In 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world target and leading Canada to be the only country in the
leaders agreed to a set of time-bound, measurable goals and world to withdraw from the treaty. While greenhouse gas
targets for combatting poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, intensity has fallen, efficiency gains have been swamped by
an increase in emissions from an expansion in oil and gas
production (Englander et al., 2013). Net emissions associated
with oil and gas exports have more than doubled since 1990.
This compares with the UK's reduction of 23 per cent over the
same time period and Germany's reduction of 22 per cent.
Under the Copenhagen Accord signed in 2009, Canada
promised to reduce emissions by 17 per cent below 2005
levels by 2020. Instead, however, emissions increased by
1.5 per cent between 2012 and 2013, driven mainly by rising
emissions from the oil and gas sector.
Scientists have suggested that an overall increase in tern
peratures in excess of 2C will cause runaway environmental
damage and that emissions need to be kept under 450 parts
per million carbon dioxide emission equivalents (Ce) to avoid
this consequence. More recent modelling suggests that 2C
was an optimistic threshold, with 1.5C being more realistic.
Nonetheless, to put emissions in perspective: considering
the overall planetary carrying capacity and using the sug
Families in Le otho are still large, but the planetary impact of this entire
family will be a fraction of that of one Canadian child. gested annual allowable emission ceiling of 14.5 gigatonnes
(Gt) CO2, if emissions were frozen at the current level of
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, R esources, and Society 27

29 Gt CO 2, to stay below the threshold we would need two

planets. However, emissions are not equally distributed. In 35
Ethiopia, for example, the average per capita carbon footprint 30
is 0 .1 tonnes, compared to 20 tonnes in Canada. The per cap-
ita increase in emissions since 1990 for the United States (1.6 1/)

tonnes) is higher than the total per capita emissions for India ~ 20
in 2004 alone (1.2 tonnes). The overall increase in emissions i 15
from the United States exceeds sub-Saharan Africa's total
emissions. If every person living in the developing world had
the same carbon footprint as the average for high-income 5
countries, global CO2 emissions would rise to 85 Gt CO2, a 0
level that would require six planets. With a global per cap- 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2011 2014
ita footprint at Canadian and US levels, we would need nine FIGURE 1.10 I Population growth in Canada, 1980-2014.
planets to sustain this level of emissions, and hence the title Source: Statistics Canada, CANStfvl database, Table 051-0001 , cansim2. statcan.
for this section. As a global community, we are running up a
large and unsustainable carbon debt, but the bulk of that debt
has been accumulated by the world's richest countries.
In terms of addressing the situation, a global perspective is of people but rather the impact of those people that is critical.
obviously necessary, although responsibilities clearly differ. Canadians are among the world's top producers per cap-
For example, a 4 per cent cut would be generated in global ita of industrial and household garbage, hazardous wastes,
emissions if a 50 per cent cut were initiated in CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases (Box 1-3). Some point to the size of the
for South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. A similar cut in high- country, the cold in winter, and the heat in summer as the
income countries would reduce emissions by 20 per cent. reasons behind our remarkable energy consumption, but it is
Equity must also play a role. An average air-conditioning clear that Canadians can contribute substantially to reducing
unit in Florida emits more CO2 in a year than a person in impacts on the planetary life-support system. We offer sug-
Afghanistan or Cambodia is responsible for during his or her gestions on some of the ways that you can help contribute to
lifetime. A European dishwasher emits as much CO 2 in a year the needed changes throughout the text, and we return to this
as the total carbon footprint of three Ethiopians. What kind theme in Chapter 15.
of role do you think Canada and Canadians should assume to Changes in environmental directions for Canada require
shoulder their share of global responsibility? changes in policies and legislation and the strict implemen-
Other important global perspectives on Canada should tation of those changes. It is therefore important for you to
be kept in mind. Our land is vast, about 13 million km2, appreciate the jurisdictional arrangements for environmental
and our population small, about 35.7 million people in 2014 management in Canada, the topic of the next section.
(Figure 1.10). Population density is 0 .04 people per hectare,
compared to Bangladesh at eight people per hectare. Canada
would have to have a population of more than 8 billion to
equal this density. Immigration, rather than natural increase,
is the most important factor in population growth in Canada.
Migrants made up 21 per cent of the total Canadian popu-
lation by 2011. Are more people good for Canada when we
consider that there is more to Canada than just the economy?
Does Canada have a moral obligation to accept migrants from
overcrowded countries elsewhere or from countries generat-
ing "environmental refugees" as a result of environmental
st ress in their home countries? These are some of the import-
ant questions that policy-makers-and you-must consider.
In terms of numbers alone, Canada is not overpopulated
compared to virtually any other country. Canada is the
second-largest country in the world in terms of area and
includes 20 per cent of the world's wilderness, 24 per cent of
~ts wetlands, 10 per cent ofits forests, and almost 7 per cent of
a telli te image of 'a nn<l a (proet> eel a t th e Ca na da C nlre for RPmot e
its renewable fresh water and has the longest coastline in the 'en ing, Earth ie nce~ t'C" Lor, atu ral Rt> ources Canada).
world. However, as discussed above, it is not simply numbers
28 PART A / Introduction

over both interprovincial and export trading of resou

Jurisdictional Arrangements and natural gas, water). Alberta, Saskatchewan, and B . _oil
rces ( .

for Environmental Columbia, which have oil and natural gas, often object t:ttsh
Management in Canada federal government becoming involved in setting pr the
. . ices a d
determmmg buyers, arguing that such matters are . ~
Under the Canadian Constitution, authority or responsibility . 'l aut h"
provmc1a onty b ecause of their
responsibility fo Within
for natural resources and the environment is divided between . 1 . h r prop
erty an d c1v1 ng ts, as well as because these resour
the federal and provincial governments, with territorial and . 1 1 cesare
un d er provmc1a contro . The federal government h
municipal governments increasingly having a role. As well, . 1 1. asused
its eg1s at1ve authority for navigation and shippin d
Aboriginal peoples are increasing their role commensurate . h
f1s enes to create water pollution regulations-even an g for
with their being recognized as a new order of government. In . h. . ough
water wit m provmces 1alls w1thm the Jurisdiction Of h
addition, Canada is involved in bilateral arrangements with b. . . d
provmces. Th us, am 1gmt1es an inconsistencies t. e
the United States to address environmental problems such as . . . d" . exist
regar d mg Juns 1ct1on over resources and the environme
air pollution and to deal with shared water bodies such as the
One consequence is that it has been difficult to establln~
Great Lakes and the Columbia River, as well as in multilateral
national approaches (combined federal and provincial) to desal
arrangements with other nations or international organiza- with resource and environmental issues.
tions regarding resources such as fisheries, migratory birds
In the early to mid 1990s, many provincial governments
and animals, and minerals on or under the ocean floor.
began to download selected responsibilities, which they had
traditionally held, to municipalities. The provinces argued
Federal, Provincial, and that downloading was consistent with the principle of sub-
Municipal Roles sidiarity, which stipulates that decisions should be taken at
the level closest to where consequences are most noticeable.
Canada is a federated state, with power and authority shared While such an argument is rational, the primary motive for
between federal and provincial governments and with muni- downloading often was the desire of provincial governments
cipal governments receiving their power and authority from to shift the cost of many responsibilities to lower levels of gov-
provincial legislatures. Ownership and control of all Crown ernment to reduce provincial debts and deficits. Whatever the
lands and natural resources not specifically in private owner- motivation, the outcome is that municipalities have become
ship is given to the provinces, under section 92A of the much more significant players in natural resource and
Constitution Act, 1867, except for the Canadian North (north environmental management, since in many instances prov
of 60 degrees latitude), where the federal government has inces have withdrawn from related management activities.
proprietary rights to land and resources until the territories Effective partnerships exist between provincial and
receive such power, and for resources found on or under sea- municipal governments. Among the best and most endur
beds off the coasts of Canada (some provinces, however, have ing examples are the Ontario conservation authoriti~s,
challenged this right). watershed-based organizations established by statute in
Legislative authority is mixed between the federal and 1946 to manage many renewable resources within river
provincial governments and often becomes a significant basins. Individual authorities were established when two
source of conflict. The federal government has jurisdiction or more municipalities in a watershed petitioned the prov
incial government to establish. one. Wh en a maion ty of the
over trade and commerce, giving it substantial authority

-~ ,, 1

.. - :1 ..\, ,'.):

_: ~--~-.
BOX 2..3 I Canada Facts
We are among the highest per capita energy consumers
We generate about 383 kilograms of solid waste per capita
in the world. . ts of
per year. ranking seventh in the world . We use our cars nearly 10 per cent more than res1den
We generate almost six tonnes of hazardous waste for other industrialized countries. ti'!

each US$1 million of goods and services produced; Japan We emit 2 per cent of the world's greenhouse gasesn~\11
enerates less than a quarter of a tonne. . o.s per cent of the world's population and rank _seco
g f the highest per capita uses of water in the global production of greenhouse gases per capita.
We have one o 3 r day roughly three times that of
world, about 15 m pe
Sweden and Japan .
CHAPTER ONE I Environmenl, R e ources, and Socie t y 29

municipalities in a watershed agreed that they would work Federal government agencies' performance often fell well
collaboratively, the province established a conservation short of stated objectives. As a result, an implementation
authority. Today, 36 authorities exist, primarily in the more gap existed, since policy direction too often was not trans-
settled parts of the province. lated into effective action. Issues surrounding implemen-
While the provincial government would not impose a con- tation challenges are addressed in Chapter 6.
servation authority, it provided a strong incentive for local Many pressing issues transcended departmental man-
governments to form one by offering funds not available to dates and governmental jurisdiction. Consequently, lack
municipalities on their own but available after a conserva- ofcoordination and integration was frequent. The need was
tion authority was established. This cost-sharing arrange- to manage "horizontal issues," or those involving shared
ment was a powerful stimulus for municipalities to agree to responsibility.
establish authorities, and for many years the cost-sharing There was often inadequate information about the bene-
was fifty-fifty between the province and the municipalities. fits of environmental programs. Therefore, a strong need
However, in the mid 1990s, the Ontario government sig- existed to resolve inadequate performance review processes
nificantly reduced its proportion of the funding to the con- so that both senior managers and parliamentarians could
servation authorities as part of a drive to reduce government know what was being accomplished.
activities and costs. Another challenge in the reallocation
of responsibility to municipal governments is the variable The commissioner's fall report in 2009 focused on one
degree of competence to deal with resource and environ- aspect-ensuring high-quality information to design, imple-
mental matters. There is significant variation among muni- ment, and monitor environmental management programs.
cipalities and other local-level governments in technical In the words of the commissioner, Scott Vaughan, "Informed
expertise and required data, funding capability, leadership, decision-making is at the heart of sound policy-making. The
community awareness and engagement, and ability to imple- environmental programs of the federal government need
ment, monitor, and enforce solutions related to resource and science-based environmental information that is timely,
environmental management. Often, the provincial govern- robust, and accessible in ways that both identify patterns of
ments have downloaded responsibility to local governments environmental degradation and help programs concentrate
without having determined whether they had the necessary on the most urgent environmental problems" (Commissioner
competence to take it on. of the Environment and Sustainable Development, 2009).
The commissioner emphasized two major challenges: (1)
Monitoring Progress toward individual environmental monitoring programs must accur-
ately track environmental quality, and (2) the many environ-
Sustainable Development
mental programs scattered among agencies "can and should
In 1997, the Office of the Auditor General began reporting on work in tandem to provide a composite or cumulative pic-
progress by 24 federal government departments and agencies ture." Having examined numerous individual programs, the
regarding sustainable development. Brian Emmett, the com- commissioner concluded that many do work as intended.
missioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, The commissioner concluded, however, that, "Unfortunately,
observed in his 1997 report that Canadians expected govern- other systems are incomplete, out-of-date, or non-existent."
ments to provide strong leadership and a clear vision and to The commissioner's reports from 1999 onwards can be
lead by example through fostering a culture of environmental found at the link in "Related Websites" at the end of this chap-
protection and sustainable development within federal ter. The reports are referred to in many chapters throughout
organizations. The commissioner also stated that few quick the book as a main source of objective evaluation on federal
solutions were available for environmental problems and that government environmental programs, and will be returned
progress would require persistence, patience, and focused to in the concluding chapter.
effort. The challenge was characterized as a "long journey" Given the attention by the commissioner to the need for
requiring systematic change if a real difference were to be timely, robu st, and accessible environmental information, in
realized for present and future generations (Commissioner of the next section we examine practices for tracking environ-
the Environment and Sustainable Development, 1997). mental conditions, with particular attention to the role
Looking to the future, the commissioner wrote that many of indicators.
environmental problems and sustainable development issues
were "difficult to manage" as well as "scientifically complex"
Measuring Progress
and involved long ti me frames. Furthermore, he noted, rarely
do they fit tidily within one department's or government's From the foregoing discussions, you will appreciate that
mandate or jurisdiction. He highlighted three major aspects the environmental situation is often so complex that many,
where improvement was necessary: including many decision-makers, give up on trying to make
30 PART A I Introduction

sense of it. However, if we do not understand the problem and

whether it is getting better or worse, we cannot implement
effective management strategies. One of the goals of science
is to provide understanding of complex problems. And one
way of doing this is through the use of indicators.
Ecological footprints are the demands that humans place
on nature in terms of supplying materials and disposing of
wastes. They provide simple indicators to enable compari-
sons among regions, countries, municipalities, and individ-
uals. On a global scale, only 1.7 hectares are available for each
person, and this amount is shrinking every year, largely as a
result of population growth. Yet the collective average global
footprint is 2.6 hectares per person, with a North American
average double that of Europeans and seven times greater
than that of Asia or Africa. Globally, humans are consuming
the natural resources of 1.5 planets. To provide for everyone
at Canadian standards would require 3.5 Earths, not just one.
Estimates suggest that by 2030, less than 0.9 hectare will be
available per person at a global scale.
Figure 1.11 shows the main components of the ecological
footprint and how they have changed over time. The foot-
print overall has more than doubled since 1961. Carbon is the
main source of humanity's increasing footprint. Carbon grew
from 36 per cent of the footprint in 1961 to 53 per cent by
2010. Clearly, to reduce footprints to more sustainable levels,
energy consumption has to be a main concern. Figure 1.11
also shows the amount of biologically productive area-
cropland, pasture, forest, and fisheries-available to meet
humanity's needs, the biocapacity. Since the late 1980s, the When you have your morning cup of coffee or tea with sugar. 1
ecological footprint had exceeded the Earth's biocapacity, as ecological footprint i reaching out to the tropics where coffee bean,. k
the latter declines as a result of overuse. Manifestations of this leave , and ugar are grown. Tea plantation, Sri Lanka (top). Sugarr
field s, outh Africa (bottom).
overuse-pollution, climate change, biodiversity collapse,



a. 1
Qi Fishing ground
:::, Cropland
c Built-up land
g_ 0.5 Forest products
0 Grazing products

FIGURE 1.11 World ecolog ica l foot print, 1961- 20 1 0 .

Source wwF 2014 . "WWF' and world Wildlife Fund ' are WWF Registered Trademarks . 1986 Pan':_a Symbol WWF
CHAPTER ONE I E n vironmenl, R esource , a nd ociety 31

BOX 1.4 I What You Ca n Do: Getting Started on Reducing Your Impact
Every chapter in the text includes a "What Yo u Can Do" fea- own environ m ental impact is to ca lculate your personal foot-
ture at the end. reflecting our belief in the role of personal print. that o f your household, your frie nds. yo ur do g .. . and
engagement with the challenges discussed in t he text. Many see what improvements can be made over this term. over the
of the suggestions relate to reducing your own ecological next year, and over your life. Several footprint calculato rs are
footprint and are brought together in the final chapter. available on the Web (e .g ., see "Global Footprint Network"' in
An excellent way for you to get started on exam ining your "Related Websites" at the end of this chapter).

and water stress-are discussed throughout the book. The many innovative programs, especially related to using local
challenge is to devise effective strategies to reduce the foot- energy sources, such as the power of the wind, the sun, and
print below biocapacity before the ecological debt becomes the Earth's heat, that have reduced both the cost of heating
insurmountable (Figure 1.12). and resource consumption. It is a striking example of how the
Some countries have ecological demands greatly in excess initiative and energy of one person can make a significant
of their capabilities, and they import ecological capital from improvement in planetary resource use.
elsewhere to make up for this deficit. Although trade between Indicators such as ecological footprints are not new. For
nations is to be expected, this excess of ecological footprint many years, doctors have used body temperature, measured
over capacity allows some nations to live beyond their eco- easily by thermometer, as one indicator of the health of the
logical means. Canada has one of the largest available eco- human body. Gross domestic product has been used as an
logical capacities (14.24 hectares per capita); we also have one indicator of economic performance, as has the Dow Jones
of the largest ecological footprints per capita and now rank industrial average. These indicators tell us something of the
eleventh in the world. current state of a particular system, but they do not help us
Within Canada there are also significant differen- to understand why the system is in that state. Over the past
ces. A study undertaken for the Federation of Canadian 25 years, there has been growing awareness of the need
Municipalities (Wilson and Anielski, 2005) examined the to develop indicators that would gauge the health of other
ecological footprints of 20 municipalities. The Canadian aspects of societal well-being, including the environment.
average was 7.25 hectares per capita, compared with a global Indicators are often used to provide information on environ-
average of 2.6 hectares per person. Perhaps not surprisingly, mental problems that enables policy-makers to evaluate their
the largest footprints in Canada were both in oil-driven seriousness, to support policy development and the setting of
Alberta, with Calgary being top (9.86) closely followed by priorities by identifying key factors that cause pressure on the
Edmonton (9.45). Sudbury, Ontario, had the lowest foot- environment, to monitor the effects of policy responses, and to
print (6.87), largely attributable to efforts of the public works raise public awareness and generate support for government
engineer in charge of heating and sewage. He introduced actions. Box 1.5 describes one framework that helps to develop

5. 3
Qi 2.5
Ill 2 Biocapacity reserve
ttl Biocapac ity deficit
tiQ) 1.5 Ecological footprint
1 Bioca pacity
0 0.5
1961 1968 1975 1982 1989 1996 2003 2010

FIGURE 1 . 12 I Trends in ecological footprint and biocapacity per person between 1961 and 2010.
Source WWF 12014 1 'WWF" and world Wildlife Fund" are WWF Registered Trademarks. 1986 Panda Symbol WWF
32 PART A I Introduction

data on many of the 80 desired variables. On the basis of

causal linkages between indicators-the Drivers-Pressures-
43 indicators used, the conclusion is that the overall tre !ht
State-Impact-Response framework, or DPSIR_ (~igure ~.13). d"-1.e.,
"m1xe some m conditind ti
d.icators show improving

One example of the DPSIR approach is the 1omt En;uon~e~t
others deterioration. ons.
Canada-US Environmental Protection Agency senes of md1-
Another example of the DPSIR framework is fro
cators on the state of the Great Lakes (Environment Canada,
6), which is broken down into pressure, state, and Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) r\'.~
2003 was established under the North American Fre~; tch
response indicators. It is interesting to note that two of the
richest nations in the world found that there was insufficient Agreement to examine environmental challenges in N::


BOX 1.5 I The DPSIR Indicator Framework
The most widespread framework for classifying environ- is now widespread realization that state indicators are m
mental indicators is the Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact- reflections of changes further up the chain, prompting much
Response (DPSIR) framework developed by the Organisation greater interest in drivers and pressures. One example of the
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) link between drivers and pressures can be found in a drive,
and adopted by all European Union countries, the US, such as the number of cars . Not only can we address the
Canada, Australia, Japan, and many developing countries driver (by seeking to limit the number of cars through bet-
(e.g., Malaysia) and international organizations (such as the ter public transportation, raising the price of gas, or imposing
Commission on Sustainable Development of the UN, the special taxes, licensing fees, or tolls on people who insist on
United Nations Environment Programme, and the World driving their cars into downtown urban areas during the day-
Bank). The framework, as shown in the figure below, is popu- time), but we can also try to reduce the pressure by making
lar because of its organization around key causal mechanisms vehicles more fuel efficient and less polluting.
of environmental problems.
State indicators (3) State indicators describe the quan-
tity and quality of physical phenomena (e.g., temperature:
biological phenomena (e.g., fish stocks, extinctions), and
chemical phenomena (e.g., CO 2 concentrations, phosphorus
loading) and tell us the current state of a particular environ-
mental system. They are often tracked over time to produce
a trend .

Impact indicators (4) The changes in the state of the

environment described by the state indicators result in
societal impacts. For example, a rise in global temperatures la
state indicator) has an impact on crop productivity, fisheries
FIGURE 1.13 I The DPSIR Indicator's framework .
value, water availability, flooding, and so on.

Driving forces (1) Drivers are the underlying forces causing Response indicators (s) Response indicators measure
ate ror
environmental change. They describe social, demographic, the effectiveness of attempts to prevent, compens be
and economic developments in societies and correspond- ameliorate, or adapt to environmental changes and maYon
ing changes in lifestyles, overall levels of consumption, and collective or individual efforts, both governmental a ~on
production patterns . Examples of drivers include population governmental. Responses may include regulatory ac 0~
r op1n
pressures and the demand for various consumer goods and environmental or research expenditures, pubic trat
services (e.g., cars, red meat, increasing travel) . and consumer preferences, changes in management ~es
egies, and provision of enviro~mental information. E;~:usel
Pressure indicators (2) These indicators are the pressures on include the number of cars with pollution control ~at
5 1
the environment resulting from the drivers. Examples include with water-efficient utilities, the percentage of wa le tt11rt
bl'c transr-
emission of pollutants, use of resources, use of land for roads, communities and households recycle, use of pu 1 tcalto
. . . . are en I
water withdrawals, deforestation, and fisheries catches . Initial and passage of leg1slat1on. Response 1nd1cators . bUt art
assessing the effectiveness of policy interventions
interest in these indicators focused further down the causal
chain in the state indicators, described below. However, there often the most difficult to develop and interpret.
CHAPTER ONE I Environment, Resource , and Society 33

America. It produced a report that looks ahead to 2030 and However, synthesis of these data into indicators is often most
assesses how the drivers, pressures, states, and impacts will useful to decision-makers, and indicators themselves may
change (CEC, 2011). Virtually all areas of the environment show greater or lesser degrees of aggregation, especially in
will come under increasing pressure. Three areas of prime a spatial sense. The Canadian Environmental Sustainability
concern are continued and accelerated warming, particularly Indicators are examples of the kind of indicators in which
in the Arctic, continued loss of terrestrial biodiversity, and there is some spatial aggregation for the whole country.
persistence of elevated levels of ground-level ozone in urban Higher levels of thematic aggregation produce indices.
areas. Again, though, particular attention is drawn to the lack Simple indices are composed mainly of similar indicators.
of adequate information and understanding in many areas, The well-known Dow Jones industrial average, for example,
which prevents making assessments with confidence. combines changes in market processes for 30 blue-chip
The federal government produces a suite of indicators, stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The Living
the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (see Planet Index, created by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is
"Related Websites" at the end of this chapter), to track prog- an example of a widely used index (WWF, 2014) that quanti-
ress toward meeting the goals and targets of the Federal fies the overall state of planetary ecosystems. It tracks over
Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS). Information is pro- 10,000 populations of 3,038 vertebrate species-fish, amphib-
vided in three main categories: air quality; freshwater quality ians, reptiles, birds, mammals-around the world and shows
and availability; and nature protection, and these are dis- a decline of 52 per cent between 1970 and 2010 (Figure 1.15).
cussed in more detail in the relevant chapters. Separate indices are produced for terrestrial, marine, and
One issue difficult to resolve in reporting on environmental freshwater species, and the three trends are averaged to cre-
change is the degree of aggregation ofinformation included in ate an aggregated index. Although vertebrates represent only
an indicator. An almost infinite amount of information could a fraction of known species, it is assumed that trends in their
be collected on environmental systems (Figure 1.14). Much of populations are typical of biodiversity overall.
this information might be useful for understanding the basic Composite indices, such as the ecological footprint, are
nature of the system while not being necessary for decision- often the most useful for decision-makers and represent the
making. Research scientists and line agencies may be involved highest level of aggregation. Although few in number, they
in the routine collection of such data, and without such data, incorporate many, often very different sub-variables. The
meaningful indicators cannot be constructed. At a higher Human Development Index, created by the United Nations
level of sophistication, these raw data may form an integrated Development Programme; the Environmental Sustainability
database, such as the integration of social and biophysical data Index of the United Nations; and GNP are other examples of
as a basis for integrated watershed management planning. aggregate indices.

policy analysts

Simple indices


Disaggregated indicators

Integrated database Scientists,

Disaggregated data & statistics

Total quantity of

FIGURE 1 . 14 I Relationship among data, indicators, indices, and users.

34 PAR T A / Introduc ti on

= Global living planet index

- Confidence limits

1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

FIGURE 1.15 The Living Planet Index, 2014.

Source: WWF (2014). "WWF" and wo rld Wildlife Fund are WWF Registe red Trademarks. 1986 Panda Symbol WWF.

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (crw) encompasses eight Composite indices are highly attractive because they con-
different categories of well-being: living standards, healthy vey a lot of information and are useful for making macro-level
populations, community vitality, democratic engagement, policy decisions. However, these highly aggregated indicators
time use, leisure and culture, education, and environment. also carry risks. They often tell us what is happening at the
Based at the University of Waterloo, the CIW aims to produce a macro level but add little in terms of explaining why. They
composite index with a single number that moves up or down may mask the complex detail that decision-makers require to
like the Toronto Stock Exchange or Dow Jones Industrial, giv- make informed decisions. Composite indices must be highly
ing a quick snapshot of whether Canadians' overall quality of transparent and capable of disaggregation to facilitate under-
life is getting better or worse. standing of why change is occurring.
Indicators provide some basis for assessing change and
comparison among countries, but they raise questions about
the role of science in environmental decision-making. This
aspect is discussed in more detail in the next section.

We are violating global thresholds related to the carrying cap
acity of the life-support system of the planet. We have cea~ed
to live off the interest and are often consuming the capital
at such a rate that it threatens the future viability of the sys
tern. Many species reach such carrying capacity limits with
their environment, overshoot them, and have their numbers

drastically reduced by env1ronmenta 1 ractors,

as d.1scussed
in Chapter 3. So far, we have been able to avoid this process
because of human technological ability, which has increased
carrying capacities. But can we contmue
to mcrease ou rnum
hers and our habits of consumption indefinitely? Or muS!
even humans accept some limits to activities and numbers?
If the answer to the latter question is yes, then identifi
cation, in general terms, of the changes needed is not that
difficult. We need to balance birth and death rates, reS tOre
climatic stability, protect our atmosphere and waters froJJl
Enn if \\ f' co uld de termine th e value of insect pollinator lo Canada's excessive pollution, curb deforestation and replant tre_es,
agri c ulture adquately, money could ne ver buy the ervice they provide. T soils,
protect the remaining natural habitats, an cl sta b1 1ze
CHAPTER ONE I E n vironment, R esou rces, and So cie ty 35

The challenge, however, is charting a course to fulfill these are in the educational system. You use the transportation sys-
objectives. Before its demise, the Soviet Union had possibly tem to go to your college or university, which is warmed by a
the most stringent and comprehensive environmental protec- heating system. Systems are composed of sets of things- e.g.,
tion regulations in existence and yet still ended up as one of educational institutions, buses, heating components-that
the most polluted environments on Earth. The regulations are all related and linked together in some sort of functional
were simply not enforced. The secret is charting a course that way. Between these different components there is a flow of
not only addresses the goals mentioned above but is actually material, such as students, passengers, or heat, subject to
able to achieve these goals. some driving force-a thirst for knowledge, the need to get
In this book, we aim to provide some background as to somewhere, or the need to be warm. Systems are generalized
how this can be achieved, with particular reference to the ways oflooking at these processes.
Canadian situation. In this chapter, we started by discussing Natural systems range in scale from the giant atmospheric
the characteristics of the "environment" and "resources." We and oceanic circulation systems to the processes underway
also examined different approaches to understanding com- in a single living cell. The pollination of a flower by a bee, the
plex systems and considered issues related to the use of "sci- melting of a glacier, and the biological fixation of nitrogen
ence" in decision- and policy-making. The case study of the from the atmosphere are all parts of such systems. These sys-
Northern Gateway proposal illustrates the complexity of tems are infinitely complex, and there is a great deal of uncer-
many environmental challenges. They are characterized by tainty as to how they function. One of the goals of natural
uncertainty, rapid change and conflict, and the need to appre- science is to try to understand this complexity. We do this by
ciate both the scientific and the technical aspects of a prob- constructing simplified models of how we think they work
lem and the social dimensions. This book attempts to provide (e.g., Figure 1.16, Box 1). The models presented in Chapters 2
an introduction to both of these aspects. Part B outlines some and 4 on how energy flows through the biosphere and on the
of the main processes of the ecospbere, the basic functionings nature of biogeochemical cycles are examples of these kinds
of the planetary life-support system, and the ways in which of simplified representations of natural systems.
we are disrupting them. Part C details some of the main plan- We do not know all the facts relating to these systems. We
ning and management approaches that have evolved within do not know all the components, let alone their functional
the Canadian context to address environmental challenges. relationships (Figure 1.16, Box 2). Many species, especially
Part D provides a thematic assessment of the challenges insects, still await discovery, even in well-explored temperate
associated with particular activities such as fisheries, for- countries such as Canada. Of those we do know about, we have
estry, agriculture, wildlife use, water, energy production, and to select those we think are important and worth representing
mineral extraction. in our simplified models. Only recently, for example, have we
Figure 1.16 illustrates the relationship among these aspects. become aware of the critical role played by various lichens
Natural systems form the basis of all human activity. A sys- in the circulation and retention of nitrogen in temperate rain
tem is a recurring process of cause-and-effect pathways. You forests (Chapter 4). Furthermore, not all characteristics are



1. Natural
I Characteristics (many) -
2. Observed
I Characteristics (few)
system I system I

4 . Control


3. State and parameter
estimation system

5. Management

FIGURE 1 16 I Simplified model of interaction of biophysical and social systems in resource

36 PART A / Introduc tion

measurable, even if we are aware of their existence. Thus, our Control systems are implemented on the b .
simplified models are fraught with uncertainty. 1 . as1s of
socia , economic, technological and mana t
On the basis of these models, we estimate the status of a . f . ' gement
straints o a society (Figure 1 .16' Box 5). These actors . c
given system (Figure 1.16, Box 3). How many fish spawn in a ence the demands for various outputs from th tnij
certain river? What proportion of the landscape supports com- h d . e systelll
t e spee of extract10n. The environmental a
mercial tree growth? What soil characteristics are suitable to . d. manage,,,
strategies 1scussed in Part C of the b k . "'e
support a given crop? If we understand the current status of . oo out1tne
mam approaches to mediating between the soc I so
the system, we can also start to ask what will result if certain . d ia and
nomic emands of the society and the product ec
parameters are changed. What would happen to the system, fh ~~-
0 t e system. As with the natural system th q
for example, if we took a certain number of fish from the river . ' ese Strate i
are characterized not only by complexity and
. uncertain
before they spawned, ifwe removed tree growth from a portion b ut a 1so by conflzct among different societal grou
of the landscape, or if we grew a given crop in the same soil for . h f ps regar
mg t e rate o outputs and distribution of benefit s
a particular time period? In other words, we try to assess the 'd" h"
d eci mg w ich groups in society have a legitimat s. llllp

impact of various changes to the system. Formal processes of . . . e inte
est m a part1eular envuonmental issue is quite com I
impact assessment have arisen in many jurisdictions. They descn'b e d m Chapter 5. Vanous
p ex,
dispute resolution mecha
assess not only the impact on natural systems but the impact isms (Chapter 6) have emerged to address the conflicts ari
on social systems as well, as described in Chapter 6. ing from resource allocation decisions.
On the basis of this understanding, we try to replace nat- As we can already see, the challenges faced in enviro
ural systems with control systems in which the main decision mental management are complex indeed, and consequent!
regulators are humans rather than nature (Figure 1.16, Box 4). it is necessary to employ an integrated approach, such as t
Instead of natural forces determining the number of fish ecosystem approach described in Chapter 5, to understan
that reach the spawning grounds, or the age of trees before this complexity. Both natural and social systems are fraug
they are replaced by other trees, or what species will grow with uncertainty, making an adaptive approach (Chapter
in a particular location, people make these decisions as we a necessit y, with strong adherence to the precautionary pri
modify the environment to our own advantage. These control ciple, as discussed in Chapter 5. Furthermore, our prese
systems are considered under topics such as forestry, water, predicament is largely the result of modification of natur
energy, and agriculture in Part D of the book. And as control systems before we had invested the time and effort-or ha
measures are introduced, we are increasingly appreciating sufficient data or scientific expertise-to understand the co
that we may make natural and social systems less resilient, sequences of our actions, especially related to the concept
and therefore increase their vulnerability when significant or resilience. The fisheries on both the Pacific and the Atlanti
sudden changes occur. coasts of Canada are in trouble (see Chapter 8) because o
simplified system models were inadequate as a basis
decision-making. However, in some instances, even whe~ ~
long-term implications of an activity on the future viabilit
of a resource are understood, the activity continues for P0
Perspectives on the Environment itical and economic reasons. The overharvestmg Of t'mbe1

When Science Meets Art (Chapter 9) is a good example. . th

Perhaps the most important message underlymg
The moral I labor toward is that a landscape as splendid
as that of the Colorado Plateau can best be understood environmental challenges we face is the need for fundamen
. . h" 'th nature
tal changes in the way we view our re1at10ns ip w1
and given human significance by poets who have their
feet planted in concrete-concrete data-and by scien- as discussed earlier in this Chapter regarding anthropoce~
tric and biocentric/ecocentnc perspectives, as we
11 as latefl
tists whose heads and hearts have not lost the capacity
for wonder. Any good poet. in our age at least, must chapter 15. Changes in outlook and ap~roach must takeJorl
begin w ith the scientific view of the world; and any sci- at all levels from international agencies such as the
' . t to hous
entist worth listening to must be something of a poet, Bank, through national and reg10na 1governmen s, .
must possess the ability to communicate to the ~est of us hold and individual initiatives. Part of the goal of ~his these
his sense of love and wonder at what his work discovers. is to motivate you to become more involved in making
Source: Abbey (1977: 87). changes happen, both locally and globally.
CHAPTER ONE I Environment , R esources , and Socie ty 37

1. The environment is the combination of the atmosphere, proposed as an ap propriate ideal to characterize what
hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere in societies shou ld as pire to.
which humans. other living species. and non-animate 9. Resilience. or "the ability of a system to absorb disturb-
phenomena exist. ance and still retain it s basic function and structure,"
2. Some consider resources to be only tho se components challe nges some of the basic assumptions underlying
of the environment of utility to humans. This view is con- sustainab le develo pm ent.
sidered to be anthro pocentric; value is defined relative
10. On the global sca le, there is undeniable evidence of
to human interests, wan ts. and needs. Another. contrast-
unprecedented environmental degra dation as a result of
ing perspective is that resources exist independently of
human activities. Such is th e scale of influe nce of human
human wants and needs. This view is ecocentric or bio -
activities that a new geological epoch, the Anth ropocene.
centric; aspects of the environment are valued simply
has been proposed to characterize current times. Growing
because they exist. an d they have the right to exi st.
global po pulatio n is a continuing challenge, as are the
3. Environmental and resource issues can be approached consumer demands of people in t he w ealthier countries.
from disciplinary, m ultidisciplinary, cross-disciplinary.
11. An estimated 4.3 peo ple are born every second arou nd
interdisci plinary, and tra nsdisciplinary perspectives. Each
the world. By 2 015 , the re were more than 7.3 bil-
provides a different basis or model for viewing the world .
lion people on Earth . The United Natio ns forecasts an
We should stri ve for interdisciplinary and transdiscipli n-
increa se to 9.6 billion peo ple by 2 050, re present ing more
ary approaches in order to understand complex systems.
than 80 million additional people per year to fee d.
4. For a science-based approach to management of
12. Co nditions continue to deteriorate in ma ny poorer cou n-
resources and the envi ronment. we should (a) focus the
tries. Th e richest 20 per cent of the world's popu lation
science on key issues and commun icate it in a po licy-
is responsible for more than 75 pe r cent of world con -
relevant form; (b) use scientific information to clari fy
sumption. while the poorest 2 0 per cent consume less
issues, identify potential management options. an d esti-
than 2 per cent.
mate consequences of decisions; (c) clearly an d si mply
communicate key scientific findings to all partici pants; (d) 13. The eight Millennium Deve lopm ent Goals adopted by
eva luate whether or not the final decision is consistent the United Nations in 2 000 aim to imp rove human well-
with scientific information; and (e) be aware of the bal- being by reducing poverty, hung er. and ch ild and mater-
ance between scientists providing technical inform ati o n nal mortality; by ensuring edu cation for all; by co ntrollin g
and interpretation, and be ing advocates for pa rticula r and managing diseases; by tac kling gender dispa rity; by
approaches or solutions. ensuring environmental su stainability; and by pursuin g
glo bal partnerships. Under each of th e MDGs. countries
5. Following the change of government after the federal elec-
agreed to targets to be achieved by 2 015 .
tion in mid October 2015, Prime Minister Trudea u indicated
that the Liberal federal government would work to ensure 14. In order to stay below the threshold level of what sci-
scientific evidence and conclusions were systematically enti sts predict would be runaway change, and if emi s-
drawn upon when developing policy. What changes do sio ns were frozen at the current level. we wo uld need the
you think would be most effective in facilitating greater abso rptive capa city of two plan ets .
attention to scientific understanding of issues whe n the 15 . Canada is one of the most privileg ed co untries, cover-
federal government takes decisions? ing so me 13 million km 2 and with a population of over
6- The Northern Gateway is a multi-billion dollar pi peline 35 million people . However. our environm ental impacts
proposa l to transport o il from Alberta to the BC coast fo r are con siderable. Our per cap ita consumption of water
sale in Asia . The process of decision - making helps illus- and energy is am o ng the high est in the world . We also
trate some of the challenges w ith ali gning political and have so m e of the highest pro duction per capita of waste
scienti fic perspectives on resou rce management issues. prod ucts, including gree nho use gases.

7 Many environmental challenges of today can be con- 16. Canada has th e seco nd-hig hest per capita emissions of
sidered "wicked problems": they are characterized as green ho use gases in the world . Canada agreed under th e
being ill-defined, with incomplete and/or contradictory Kyoto Protocol to target a 6 per ce nt cut in emissio ns.
informatio n or interpretati ons, having many stakeholders Instead, emissions have increased by 29 per cent. and th e
with values in conflict. and having an overall system and country is 35 per cent above its Kyoto targ et.
related issues th at are uncertain and confusing . 17. Responsibility fo r th e environment and natu ral re so ur-
8- Having a vision o f or sense of direction toward a desirable ces is divi ded betwee n the federal and provincial gov-
future co ndition is essential for planning and manage- ernme nts. w ith th e territories and municipalities taki ng
on increasingly important roles . Abo rig inal peoples also
ment. In that regard, sustainable development has been
38 PART A I Introduction

area of biolog ically productive land and . water needed t0

are much more involved. The shared responsibility often
provide ecological resources and services-food, fibre.
requires collaboration and partnerships. which can create
and timber; land on wh ich to build; and land to absorb
tensions because of differing interests and perspectives.
carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) released by burning fossi l fuels.
18. Indicators are one way by which science can assist
decision-makers to appreciate current trends . There are 20 . A comparison of humanity's ecological footprint With
biocapacity (the amount of biologically productive area-
different kinds of indicators with different levels of com-
plexity. Decision - makers often want few indicators that cro pland. pasture, forest, and fisheries-available to rneet
contain the most information to be able to understand humanity's needs) shows that since the late 1980s, the eco.
the situation. Indicators that combine ma ny different ele- logical footprint exceeds the Earth's biocapacity by rnore
ments are called composite indices . than so per cent. Canadians have a very high ecological
footprint, but Canada also has a very high biocapacity.
19. The Living Planet Index shows a reduction of more than
so per cent overall in biodiversity of the planet since 1970. 21. The main challenge for humanity is to im plement effect-
Ecological footprints show the extent of human demand ive strategies to ensure that the ecological footprint falls
on global ecosystems. These "footpri nts measure the below biocapacity as soon as possible.

Anthropocene environment population age structure

anthropocentric view environmental m ig ration replacement- level fertility
biocapacity epidemi o logica l t ran sition resilience
biosphere exponential growth resources
consumption global climate change subsid iarity
crude birth rate (CB R) gross natio nal product (GN P) susta inable development
crude death rate (CDR) indicators three waves
crude growth rate (CGR) Kuznet curve total fertility rates
cryos phere Li ving Planet Index triple bottom line
demographic transition m igration war on science
ecocentric (b iocentric) values Millenn iu m Ecosystem Assessment wicked problems
ecological footprint planetary carrying capacity

...... - -- --- --
.,. - _Que_tions for Revie;; and Critical Thinking
1. What information is available in your mu nicipa lity or th e contribution of science in management of natural
province regarding environmental haza rd s? resources and the environment?

2. If you had been hired to provide recomm endation s 6. Following the change of government after the federal
related to the Northern Gateway project, what informa - election in mid October 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau
tion would you have needed to m ake a deci sion about indicated that the Liberal federal government would
the potential risk to ecosystem an d hu man health? Could work to ensure scientific evidence and conclusions were
you place a monetary value on any potential risk? systematically drawn upon when developing policy.
What changes do you th ink would be most effective in
3. What is your opinion about the validity an d va lue of th e
facilitating greater attention to scientific understandin9
concept of Anthropocene? 7
of issues when the federal government takes decisions
4. Do you find the idea of "three waves" helpful to under-
stand the evolution of thinking by environmen talists? Do 7. What are the characteristics of "wicked problems"?
you believe we are now in an era of a "fourth wave"? If so,
what are the characteristics of such a wave? 8. What is the distinction between sustainable development
and resilience? How does the concept of resilience chal
5. How do you react to the co m ment tha t there had been lenge the goals of sustainable development? Which dO
a war o n science: and that t he federal government had you believe makes a better basis for imagining a desirable
been actively taking actio n to lim it and circumscribe future state: sustainable development or resilience?
CHAPTER ONE I Environme nt , R e ource , and ociet y 39

9. Outline the main arguments for co nsi dering popu lation of ind icato rs? Are t here any indica tors used by your
growth as a threat to global carrying capaci ty or as a province or mun ic ipal ity that give in sight into envi ron -
building block for future economic gro wth . mental c hanges?

10 . What moral obligations. if any, do C anad ians have to 13. What are some of the main init iative s of Canad ian gov-
assist people in the developing world who se standards of ernments to address environmental problems?
living do not meet basic human n eed s?
14. What is a system? Outline the components of a system
11. Is population growth or envi ron mental degradation the that you use on a regular basis .
major problem in the less developed countries? Which is
15. What are the top three things you would do if you were
cause, and which is effect?
the prime minister of Canada to contribute to ward
1 2. What are indicators used fo r? What are the main types achieving global sustainability and resilience?

; ---- ~.--~-~ . . l ~ _- - - - -

-- Relate4:::W ebsites
1'.f. .
- .;_

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators Office of the Auditor General, Comm issioner of the dicators/default. Environment and Sustainable Development, Reports on
asp?lang=En&n=47F48106-1 the Environment and Sustainable Development
Canadian Index of Wellbeing www.oag-bvg .html Resilience Alliance
Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network
www.csin Stockholm Resilience Centre
Canada-United States Collaboration for Great Lakes www.stockholmresilience .org
Water Quality (Selection of indicators for Great Lakes) United Nations Environment Programme: Global Environment Outlook
Fraser Basin Council: Sustainability Ind icato rs Sustainable Communities Online (Community- based
Global Footprint Network indicators) /en/index. php/GFN/page/ www.sustainable .org
personaUootprint/ United Nations Population Fund
Living Planet Index /about_our_earth/all_publications/ Worldometers
living_planet_report/living_planet_report_g raphics/lpi_interactive/ www.worldometers .info/world-population/
National Round Table on the Environment and the Worldwatch Institute
Econo my (N RTEE)
http://collectionscanada webarchives2/2o13o32214o948/

- -
~ Further Readings ~- __
Note: This list comprises w orks relevant to the subject of the Mulrennan, M.E. 2015. "Aboriginal peoples In relation to resou rces
chapter but not cited in the text. All cited works are listed in and environmental management," in B. Mitchell. ed ., Resource
and Environmental Management in Canada, 5th edn, Don Mills,
the References at the end o f the book.
ON: Oxford University Press, 55-83 .
Brown, V., J.A. Harris, and J.Y. Russell. 2010. Tackling Wicked Savitz, A 2006. The Triple Bottom Line. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Problems Through the Transdisciplinary Imag ination. London . Tam, C.-L., 2015. "Canada's role in global sustainability: Successes,
Earthscan. failures, and opportunities," in B. Mitchell. ed ., Resource and
Hacking, T., and P. Guthrie. 2008. "A fram ework for clarifying the Env,ronmental Management in Canada, 5th edn, Don Mills, ON :
meaning of the Triple Bottom-Line, integrated , and sustainabil- Oxford University Press 30-54.
ity assessment: Environmental Impac t Assessment Review 28, Williston, B. 2012 . Environmental Ethics for Canadians Don Mills,
1. 73-89. ON : Oxford University Press.
McDowell, L.S 2012. An Environmental History o f Canada . Worldwatch Institute. 2011 Vital Signs: The Trends That Are Shaping
Vancouver University of British Columbia Press. Our Future . New York : WW. Norton.

b~1 Go to to access additional learning tools on your smartphone, tablet, or PC .

42 PART B j The Eco pbere


BOX 8.1 I Traditional Ecological Knowledge
knowledge and illustrates the potential for traditional know.
Most of the concepts presented in this book are the result
ledge and conventional science to complement one another
of the scientific approach " to understanding different phe-
A similar dispute is now occurring over polar bear numbers
nomena. There are other approaches, however, and one
gaining increasing attention is traditional ecological know- although it appears that, in this case, a scientific approach 1~
ledge (TEK). The scientific community now understands providing a more accurate picture of the state of the natural
that indigenous peoples often have detailed knowledge of system (see Figure 1.16).
their local environments, which is not surprising for peoples Management systems also differ between indigenous and
gaining their sustenance directly from that environment. scientific approaches. The traditional system is self-regulating,
Indigenous peoples tend to undertake the same kinds of tasks based on communal property arrangements. Conservation
as Western scientists, such as classification and naming of dif- practices, such as rotation of hunting areas, were commonly
ferent organisms and studies of population dynamics, geo- practised. However, the system is not infallible, especially
graphical distributions, and optimal management strategies. with the onslaught of outside influences and commercializa-
Unlike Western science, however, this knowledge is rarely tion. There are examples around the world where indigenous
recorded in written form but is handed down orally from gen- peoples have hunted species to extirpation within their home-
eration to generation. lands. Similarly, the modern system of private property rights
Interest in TEK has been spurred by increasing indus- and state allocation of harvesting rights does not always work.
trial interest in northern regions and the potential impact of This was recognized all too clearly with the complete collapse
resource extraction on Native communities . Inevitably, this of the North Atlantic cod fishery in the middle of the twen-
has given rise to discussions about which form of ecological tieth century: if scientists and policy-makers had given more
knowledge, Western or traditional, is the "best." In reality, both credence to the local ecological knowledge of inshore fishers
have their advantages and disadvantages. Modern science is in Newfoundland out port communities, the destruction of
informed by developments around the world but is limited in the fishery might have been averted. Scientists and indigen-
its knowledge of changes over time in a particular place, an ous peoples are now realizing the benefits offered by the two
area where traditional knowledge is particularly rich. Scientists systems of knowledge and management approaches and are
tend to concentrate on information that can be tested by rep- trying to use both through co-management arrangements.
lication and to ignore idiosyncratic and individual behaviour
that is given substantial weight by indigenous hunters.
A graphic example of these differences came to light in
March 2008. Scientists from the Department of Fisheries and
Oceans (DFO; now Fisheries and Oceans Canada) claimed that
the bowhead whale populations in the eastern Arctic were
so low-about 5,000 animals-that the species was listed
as threatened under the Species at Risk Act, discussed in
Chapter 14. However, for many years the Inuit had claimed
that there were far more animals and that the hunting quota
of one whale every two years should be increased. As a result
of new scientific information, this latter claim was found to be
correct, and DFO scientists expanded their estimates to 14,400.
That is nearly 300 per cent higher than the Ministry's earlier
estimate and roughly equal to the 11,000 whales thought to
have frequented waters such as the Davis Strait and Lancaster
Sound during the nineteenth century, when whales were vig-
There is considerable dispute between scienti t and indigenous
orously hunted for their blubber as the main source of lamp people about the numbers of polar bears remaining.
oil. This example highlights that there is no "best" form of

the individual scientist. Despite the fact that social biases and Scientists collect data or facts (observations widely accepted
values influence science, it is important to maintain as value- as truthful) about the environment and then try to make some
free an approach as possible and to ensure that biases are order out of those facts. This order is called theory. The
theory of natural selection, first outlined by Charles oanNi~
explicit and documented.
PART B \ The E cospher e 43

and Alfred Russel Wallace in 1858, is a good exam ple. When cha nge their behaviour, how governments and the economy
there is universal acceptance of the theo ry, a scientific law operate, and how legislation is formed and enforced? What can
may be established . A scientific law represe nts th e m ost strin- we learn from societies elsewhere, and how they have inter-
gent form of understanding and lays down a uni versa l truth acted with their environmental surroundings in the past? These
that describes in all cases what happens in certain circum - are the kinds of questions that we look to disciplines such as
stances. In the next two chapters, you wi ll be int rodu ced to geog raphy, anthropology, history, psychology, sociology, pol-
some of these laws. They are useful beca use they provide fi rm itical science, and economics to address.
blocks upon which we can bui ld our scientific und erstanding . Th e methods of social science can also have much in
The scientific method links, with mi nim um erro r, th e testin g co mmon w ith the natural sciences, with hypothesis testing
of hypotheses with the existing body of kn owled ge. It pre- as a means of building theory and establishing laws that will
scribes a series of steps that, ove r time, scientist s have fo und help provide a generic understanding of seemingly disparate
are most likely to provide understanding about phenome na eve nts. Yet the great variability in social systems, the difficul-
under study, irrespective of the observer underta king the ti es w ith isolating and controlling many of the variables under
observations or experiment. Th e process starts w ith a qu es- study in a social context (as opposed to natural phenomena
tion often derived either from observations of the environ- or laboratory work), and the challenges of repeatability (it is
ment or from existing literature. A hypothesis is generated often impossible to duplicate the circumstances for repeated
to explain th e pheno menon of interest, and experi ments or experiments) make adherence to strict scientific procedures
observations are designed to disprove the hypoth esi s. If the impossible. These difficulties make it necessary for social sci-
hypothesis is not rejected, the n additional experiments may entists to apply a very broad range of approaches to gaining
be designed in further effort s to disprove it. If all efforts fail, social understanding. Thus, although theory formation is a
the hypothesis becom es inco rporated into theory and is critical part of the social sciences, the formulation of univer-
accepted as a va li d answer to t he quest ion . However, natural sal laws is very rare .
scientists do not have to follow o ne scientific method . Many Furthermore, although both natural and social scientists
important scientific insights have co me about through quite strive for quantitative (numerical) data because of the preci -
irregular approaches. Nonetheless, it is w ise to learn from sion that numbers provide, qualitative (non-numerical) data
previous experience and to know the kinds of procedures are sometimes all that can be obtained or even all that can
usually followed in any given area of inquiry. or should be sought, depending on the particular research
That sa id, we shou ld not feel that any of the hypotheses, question . A case in point: Over many years, federal fisheries '
theories, or even laws advanced by science are beyond ques- scientists tended to dismiss the qualitative data from inshore
tion. The whole purpose of science is to ask questions, and Newfoundland fishers as "anecdotal " and chose to rely largely
science advances by continually chang ing and modifying on their own estimates of stock biomass, which were based
previous knowledge. "Be kind to scienti sts (and teachers!) but on offshore data from the trawler fishery and from their own
ruthless in your questio ns is not a bad dictum . Debate and survey boats. As it turned out, the anecdotal observations and
disagreement in sci ence are normal. In the following chap- warnings based on generations of knowledge and experience
ters, for example, ideas on some topics are chang ing rap idly, were far more accurate than the quantitative data the scien-
and even some conce pts (e.g., keystone species, clima x vege- tists chose to believe . Both kinds of data are important. For
tation) are being questio ned by some scientists. This active example, if someone tells you that the weather was cool;
debate is often misunderstood by those outside the academic that does not convey as much information as telling you that
community. It can also be used for political purposes to sup- the temperature was -25C. Data on the beauty of a cer-
port inaction on measures that might be unpopular, such as tain landscape is less amenable to quantitative assessment,
limits on industrial emissions to reduce acidic precipitation . although some scientists have developed numerical ways of
Debate and dispute, however, are si gns of the vitality and approaching such problems!
strength of scientific thinking-and of the urgent need to get The three chapters in Part B provide a basic overview of
closer to truth-rather than the converse . the principal processes that maintain the planetary life-
When we think of science, we often tend to th ink of it within support system . A simple model of the planet would look like
the context of natural and physical sciences, and most of the the layers of an onion (Figure B.1). We are most concerned
next three chapters focus on this understand ing of "science." with the outer layer, the ecosphere, which consists of three
However, social science is also critical to und erstanding and main layers:
addressing environmental managem ent. Just as natural sci-
entists hope to provide greater understanding of the natural The lithosphere, which is the outer layer of the Earth 's
world, social scientists address the same need for social dimen- mantle and the crust. It contains the rocks, minerals, and
sions. How can we understa nd how individuals think, how to soils that provide the nutrients necessary for life.
44 PART B I The Ecosp here the Earth's surface is the mesosphere and abo , e h ,

The hydrosphere, which contains all the water on Earth.

the thermosphere . As distance from Earth increa,I:,. t ~
pressure and density of the atmosphere decreat"e, 'a
Water in a frozen state is referred to as the cryosphere, a
melds into space. '
very important component for much of Canada.
The atmosphere, which contains the gases surrounding
the lithosphere and hydrosphere. It can be further divided These three .layers
. combine to produce th e cond1t1
into four main sub-layers. The innermost layer, or tropo - necessary for life in the ecosphere , wh1c h stretches f Or
sphere, contains 99 per cent of the water vapour and up . depths of the ocean trenches up to the h'19 h est m r0rr
to go per cent of the air and is responsible for our weather. ta,n peaks, a layer some 20 kilometres In width no our,.
Two gases, nitrogen (78 per cent) and oxygen (21 per ce nt), in scale than the peel of an apple, which co t . , largr::r
tr . n ams som
account for 99 per cent of the gaseous volume. This layer '." ' ,on d,fferent kinds of organisms . The followln c 'lo
extends on average to about 17 kilometres befo re it gives im part some idea of the main environmental proces<eo
th g hapter;
way to the second layer, the stratosphere, w herei n lies e ecosphere and describe how human activities . C' J ,

the main body of ozone that blocks out most of the ultra- these processes. interrupt
violet radiation from the sun. At about so kilometres from

FIGURE e. 1 I A s1mp
. rified model of the Earth showing the ecosphere.

Key Terms
science thermosphere
atmosphere lithosphere
traditiona l ecolog ica l
m esosphe re scientific law
cryosphere knowledge (TEK)
qua litative stratosphere
ecosphere troposphere
quantitative theory

Energy Flows and Ecosystems

Learning Objectives
To know the nature o f energy and the laws governing its To appreciate the Canadian context for biodiversity and
transformation approaches and challenges with biodiversity conservation
To understand the w ay energy flows throug h the eco - in Canada
sphere and links ecosystem components To understand the ecological im plications associated with
To outline th e main influences on the structure and nature the loss of biodiversity
of ecosystems To learn the importance of reducing energy use in society
To understand the nature and importance of biodiversity

The annual arrival of the capelin to the beaches of Normally, 80 to 90 per cent of the Atlantic puffin's diet
Newfoundland to spawn on the first full moon of June had consists of capelin. In the early 1980s, scientists noticed cape-
long been a bounty-not only for many animal species but lin declined to 13 per cent of their diet, resulting in severe
also for the settlers who collected the fish for consumption malnutrition of puffin chicks and subsequent declines in
and application to their gardens as fertilizer. The capelin is a the population owing in part to starvation. Their numbers
small fish of the North Atlantic and an important food supply fell as a direct result of the removal of their food base, the
for many other species, including cod, salmon, halibut, mack- capelin. The energy flow between the species had been inter-
erel, seals, various whale species, and many species of seabirds rupted by the opening of an offshore capelin fishe ry that had
such as puffins and murres. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, removed the capelin from the food chains that nourish many
th e numbers of fish coming to spawn declined markedly. other marine species. The puffins were a noticeable victim of
46 PART B I T he Eco pher e

energy. Energy differs from matter in that it has no mass

and does not occupy space. It affects matter by making it do
The colourful bill is the most triking feature of the Atlantic puffin, things-work. Energy derived from an object's motion and
which breeds among the rocks of ea i lands. mass is known as kinetic energy, whereas potential energy
is stored energy that is available for later use. The water
stored behind a dam is potential energy that becomes kinetic
this appropriation, but other species feeding on the capelin energy as it pours over the dam. The gas in a car is potential
suffered the same consequence. These species in turn would energy before it is poured into the engine to create mechan-
affect the abundance of other species at all levels in the foo d ical energy for propulsion.
web, since the numbers of some species are controlled mainly Most of the energy available for use is termed low-quality
by their predators. This example illustrates the importance of energy, which is diffuse, dispersed at low temperatures, and
understanding how energy links species and flows through difficult to gather. The total energy of all moving atoms is
ecosystems. Changing the energy available at one part of the referred to as heat, whereas temperature is a measure at a
food chain will have repercussions throughout the ecosystem. particular time of the average speed of motion of the atoms
Reading this book, taking notes in class, even snoozing at or molecules in a substance. The oceans, for example, contain
home all require energy. That energy comes ultimately from an enormous amount of heat, but it is very costly to harness
the radiant energy of the sun and is transformed into chemical this energy for use. They have high heat content but low tern
energy in the form of food supplies before being converted to perature. On the other hand, high-quality energy, such as
mechanical energy in the form of physical exertion and activ- a hot fire or coal or gasoline, is easy to use, but the energy
ity. In this chapter, you will gain an appreciation of energy in disperses quickly. It is important that we match the quality
relation to such transformations, how energy flows through of the energy supply to the task at hand. In other words, the
ecosystems, and the ecosystem consequences that result. You aim is not to use high-quality energy for tasks that can be
also will be introduced to the main factors that control the undertaken by low-quality supplies. Heating space, such as
structure and composition of ecological communities and how your house, for example, requires only low-temperature heat,
these interact to produce the biodiversity of our planet. yet many homes are heated through the conversion of hig~-
quality energy sources that entail significant energy losses_in
generation, transport, and application. Nuclear energy, which
Energy involves high-quali~y heat at_ s:veral tho~sand degrees c::~
verted to high-quality electnc1ty transmitted to homes
Energy is the capacity to do work and is measured in calories.

used in resistance h eatmg, 1s ff"1c1ent.
very me The most effi-d
A calorie is the amount of heat necessary to raise one gram
cient way to provide space heating is to have super-insul~te
or one millilitre of water one degree Celsius (C), starting 5
houses and passive solar heating. Examples of energy savin~
at 15 degrees. Energy comes in many forms: radiant energy . d . h" are dis
in buildings and the progress bemg ma e mt 1s area
(from the sun), chemical energy (stored in the chemical bonds
cussed in more detail in Chapter 13.
of molecules), as well as heat, mechanical, and electrical
CHAPTER Two I Energy Flows and Ecosy t erns 47

All organisms, including plants, require energy for growth, coal's energy at most is converted into electricity. The rest is
tissue replacement, movement, and reproduction. To gain given off as waste heat to the environment.
a comprehensive perspective on life, we must understand In a car, only about 10 per cent of the chemical energy of the
energy and how it is transformed and used. Box 2.1 provides gasoline is actually converted into mechanical energy to turn
an introductory definition oflife. the wheels. The remainder is dispersed into the environment.
Put your hand onto the hood of a car that has just stopped
running. The heat you feel is a result of this second law of
Laws of Thermodynamics
energy or the law of entropy. Entropy is a measure of the dis-
Two laws of physics (or physical laws) describe the way in order or randomness of a system. High-quality, useful energy
which trillions of energy transformations per second take place has low entropy. As energy becomes dispersed through trans-
all over the globe. They are known as the laws of thermodynam- formation, the entropy increases.
ics. The first one, the law of conservation of energy, tells us For organisms, the second law is particularly important
that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it is merely because they must continuously expend energy to maintain
changed from one form into another (nuclear is a form of themselves. Whenever energy is used, some of that energy is
potential energy-the energy is simply held in the nucleus of lost to the organism, creating a need for an ongoing supply
an atom). Organisms do not create energy; rather, they obtain that must exceed these losses if the organism is to survive. If
it from the surrounding environment. When an organism dies, losses exceed gains for an extended period of time, then the
the energy of that organism is not "lost." It flows back into organism dies.
the environment and is transformed into different types of There are many other important ramifications of this law.
energy, the total sum of which adds up to the original amount. It tells us, for example, that energy cannot be recycled. As it
Similarly, we all know that most cars obtain their energy from flows through systems, it is continuously degraded. We think
gasoline. As the fuel gauge goes from full to empty, this does of "advanced" societies as being energy consumers. Large
not indicate that energy has been consumed; it has merely been dams and nuclear power stations, for example, are visible
transformed from chemical energy into other forms of energy, signs of a modern economy. As we become more economic-
including the mechanical energy to move the car. ally developed, we find new ways to transform energy. Cars,
The second law of thermodynamics, the law of entropy, telephones, electric can openers, blenders, microwaves, hot
tells us that when energy is transformed from one form into tubs, computers, and smartphones are all energy transform-
another, there is always a decrease in the quality of usable ers. Yet as more energy is transformed, more is dispersed into
energy. In any transformation, some energy is lost as lower- the atmosphere because entropy increases. This dispersion
quality, dispersed energy that is dissipated into the surround- can be likened to a bar of soap in a bowl of water. As the soap
ing environment, often as heat. The amount of energy lost is used over time, it dissolves into the water, making it less
varies depending on the nature of the transformation. In a and less useful. Similarly, as energy is used it gradually dis-
coal-fired generating station, for example, 35 per cent of the perses into the atmosphere, becoming less useful.

For man:i, people, uch a villager in India, bioma s i the main for m of energy. It can take many forms ranging from wood (a) through to dried buffalo
fece. (b), v.hich are burned to cook food and, in some place , heal hou e . These energy sources are ancient and depend on photo ynthe, i from tlw su n.
Modem technology is now helping to capture the sun's energy in new and exciting way , such a the e olar cell in a remote village in we tern Thailand (c).
48 PART B I T he Eco pher e

(ENimRoNME~TIN Facus
BOX 2.1 I What Is Life?
having no light, no oxyg en, barely any water, and very limited
We have asserted that energy is essentia l for all life, but what
nutrients. The microbes have very low ene rgy requ irements
is life? Living organisms have a number of comm on cha rac-
and digest carbon compounds from the coa l. Scientists
teristics, including:
are now trying to figure out how they got there. Were they
They use energy to maintai n intern al order. always th ere and buried with the orig inal organ ic materials
They increase in size and co mplexity over time . or did they somehow bore their way down afterward? If such
life can survive on Earth, can it survive on other planets? Are
They can reproduce .
They react to their environment. there implications for global climate change that are not fully
They regulate and maintain a constant internal understood as the microbes take in hydrocarbons and expel
environment. methane, a greenhou se gas, as a waste product?
They fit the biotic and abiotic requ irements of a specific As we learn more about life, things get increasingly compli-
habitat. cated. To try to simplify the vast array of life on Earth, biolo-
gists recognize five main kingdoms. The simplest kingdom
We think we have a fairly good idea of what constitutes (#1) consists of monerans, single -celled micro - organisms that
life, but there is still a lot of debate as to how life developed include bacteria and photosynthetic blue - green bacteria. The
on Earth . More than 85 years ago, two scientists proposed a genetic material of monerans is not contained w ithin a nuclear
theory, called the Big Bang Theory, wh ich explained the ori- envelope. They are known as prokaryotic and were the first to
gin of the universe as the result of a massive explosion that evolve. The other four kingdoms (#2 to #5) all have nuclei and
occurred some 15 billion years ago. The solar system came a high degree of internal structure; they are known as eukary-
from the resulting matter. As the chun ks of matter grew in otic. The protists (#2) comprise a large variety of unicellular
size, they heated up. As the Earth cooled , warm seas formed , and multi-cellular species such as algae, protozoans, slime
and precipitation helped to create a nutrient-rich environ- moulds, and foraminifera . Kelp species, found in abundance
ment. Over time, the continuous bombardment of this around much of Canada 's coastline, are multi-cellular algae of
nutrient-rich soup by high energy levels from the sun created this kingdom . The kingdom consists of 14 phyla (the primary
chemical reactions producing simple organic compounds, subdivision of a taxonomic kingdom) with more than 14,000
such as am ino acids. Scientists have managed to recreate species described. Fungi have their own kingdom (#3). one
several organ ic compounds necessary for life from inorganic that evolved relatively recently, some 400 million years ago.
molecules by bombarding them w ith energy. This kingdom includes both fungi, such as mushrooms, which
Over billions of years, larger organ ic molecules came to are multi-cellular, and yeasts, which are unicellular. All fungi are
be synthesized until the first living cells, probably bacteria, heterotrophs and mostly digest dead organic matter or act as
developed between 3.6 and 3.8 billion years ago. These cells parasites. Many are asexual. They are key components of the
passed through several stages over billions of years, with biogeochemical cycles described in Chapter 4.
increasingly complex development. This activity took place in The remaining two kingdoms (#4, #5) will be most familiar
the ocean environment, protected from ultraviolet (UV) radia- to you . The plantae (#4) are mostly photosynthetic, although
tion. Between 2 .3 and 2.5 billion years ago, a major change there are some exceptions as described later in Box 2.4. Unlike
occurred when photosynthetic bacteria developed that emit- algae, plants are always multi-cellular. They dominate terres
ted oxygen into the atmosphere as they manufactured carbo- trial ecosystem s and contain two main groups, the bryophtyes
hydrates from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Over time, and vascular plants. Bryophytes, such as mosses and liver
the oxygen reacted w ith the abundant and poisonous methane worts, are restricted to moist environments because they tack
in the atmosphere, reducing levels of this gas and leading to the a wa xy cuticle to cover their foliage . They also lack vascular
atmosphere we know today. Some oxygen was also converted tissues . Vascular plants are very complex and have vascular
to ozone in the lower stratosphere, which protected evolving tissues in their stems to convey water and nutrients. There are
life from uv radiation and allowed the emergence of life from a further nine divisions with in the vascular plants, including
deeper to shallower waters and eventually onto land itself. ferns, conifers, and flowering plants . It is estimated that there
Life holds many surprises. For example, in 2014 scientists are more than 235 ,000 species of flowering plants. Other div
reported on the deepest (thus far) drilling exerc ise into the isions, such as the ginkgo, have only one surviving species.
crust of the Earth. A giant drill was lowered from a Japanese The final kingdom (#5) is the animalia, which are hetero
sh ip through more than 1 ,000 metres of ocean before drilling trophic, multi-cellular organisms that have the ability to
through a record-breaking 2.446 metres of rock beneath the move. They ingest their food and digest it within their bodies
sea floor into an ancient coal bed . In the samples, the sci- Most reproduce sexually. Th is is the largest kingdom, mostly
entists found a microbe community that was thriving despite because of the vast numbers of insects. Insects are examples
CHAPTER TWO I Energy Flows and Eco ys tem 49

of the invertebrates, having no backbone. Vertebrates, on the homeotherms (i.e., they can regulate their body temperatures
other hand, have backbones and include amphibians, fish, at a constant level), are hairy, and have a four-chambered
birds, reptiles, and mammals. There are about 4,500 spe- heart. This book is mainly about the impacts of one mammal,
cies of mammals. Mammals feed their young with milk, are humans, on the rest of life on this planet.

Some of the principal transformations that have to take we have released the energy input of millions of years in the
place to achieve a sustainable society are to view high energy blink of an eye-the past 250 years. Many current environ-
consumption as undesirable; to reduce energy waste; and to mental problems are a result of this increase in entropy.
switch from the non-renewable sources of energy that now
dominate (coal and oil particularly) to renewable sources,
such as those discussed in Chapter 12. Until the Industrial Energy Flows in
Revolution, the speed of processing raw materials was lim-
ited by the energy available, supplied largely by human and
Ecological Systems
animal labour combined with wood, wind, and water power. Energy is the basis for all life. The source of virtually all this
These sources were in turn limited by the input of solar energy is the sun. More than 150 million kilometres away,
energy over a relatively short time period. The use of coal, the sun, a giant fireball of hydrogen and helium, continu-
and later oil, to fuel steam engines removed these limitations ously bombards the Earth with radiant energy. This energy,
and made accessible a vast storehouse of potential energy cre- although it is only about 1/50 millionth of the sun's output,
ated by the sun over millions of years through the remains fuels our life-support system, creates our climate, and pow-
of compressed plants. Acid rain, greenhouse gases, climatic ers the cycles of matter discussed in Chapter 4. About a third
change, and many other environmental problems result dir- of the energy received is reflected by the atmosphere back
ectly from this transformation of the energy base of society into space (Figure 2.1). Of the remainder, about 42 per cent
from a renewable to a non-renewable one. In geological terms, provides heat to the Earth's surface, 23 per cent causes

solar rad iation
Outgoing radiation


~ !RI




FIGUR.E 2. I The Earth's energy input and output, a good example of the first law of thermodynam ics.
The E co pher e

activity is delaying the loss of heat to space by trap .

in the atmosphere through increased levels of heat-tr~~n~
gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. The mecha ~1
and implications of global climate change are discussed%
fully in Chapter 7. lllor,

Producers and Consumers

The sun's energy is transformed into matter by I
through the process of photosynthesis (photo ::: ligh~ an
thesis = to put together). Through ~his process, plants'c~
bine carbon dioxide and water, usmg energy from th
e sii,
into high-energy carbohydrates sue~ as starches, ce~
lose, and sugars (Figure 2.2). Green pigments in the plan
Plants that grow on the forest floor have differing strategies to obtain called chlorophylls, absorb light energy from the
Mos t, uch as many erns can on relalively
enough light to survive. . SU\ C
Photosynthesis also produces_ oxygen, some of which is us~
low light levels. Some, uch as the devil's club sh~wn here, grow very large """'
by plants in various metabolic processes. The rest goes in. 0"
leaves (over 40 centimetres wide for the devil's club) in order to expose as 0.

the atmosphere. Hundreds of millions of years of evolutio &.

much photosynthetic surface as possible to the low light level . The devil's
club is a member of the ginseng family and well known among indigenous have served to produce the oxygen in the atmosphere thatt;e A
peoples in western orth America for its medicinal properties. depend on for life.
Organisms with the ability to capture energy and man
facture matter are known as autotrophs (auto = self, tropbos , sl
evaporation of water, and less than 1 per cent forms the basis feeding) or producers. All other organisms obtain thei;
for our ecological systems. When we think of solar energy, it energy supply through eating other organisms and are know:
is important to remember not just the direct heat from the sun as heterotrophs (heter = different) or consumers. There are
but also these indirect forms of energy created by heat input. two kinds of autotrophs, phototrophs and chemoautotroplu. 0
Figure 2 .1 illustrates the law of conservation of energy. Phototrophs obtain their energy from light; chemoautotropni
The total amount of energy received by the Earth is equal to gain their energy from chemicals available in the envirot

the total amount lost. One of the changes caused by human ment, in a process called chemotax is. Although most ofus
are aware of the critical role played by photot rophs (plants)in
our life-support system, the chemoautotrophs play an equallr
critical yet not so visible role (Box 2.2). Most of them a~
bacteria and play a fundamental role in the biogeochemiu E
cycles, discussed in more detail in Chapter 4. V
Light energy Phototrophs convert the light energy of the sun into chem ti
ical energy, using carbon dioxide and water to produce carbo- a
hydrates. The second law of thermodynamics instructs ti s
that some energy will be lost in this transformation; indee'.
the efficiency rate is only between 1 and 3 per cent. In otlt
Carbon w~ rd s, 97 to 99 per cent of the energy will be lost. Nonethele:
dioxide ~his conversion is sufficient to produce billions of tons of lit
mg m~tter, or biomass, throughout the globe.
Besi?es photosynthesis, cellular respiration is anoih~
es~ential energy pathway in organisms. In both plants aJJ
a~imals, th is involves a kind of reversal of the photosyntt:
si~ process in which energy is released rather than capt1"
H1gh_-energy organic carbohydrates are broken down throu~
a senes of steps to release the stored chemical bond ene~ t
In other words th . di
. ' e potential energy is now reahze
etic energy in th st
. e way described above This produce ,
morgamc molecule b alll '
the law of s, car on dioxide, water, heat (bee ,'
FIGURE 2 _2 I The process of photosynthesis. entropy) a d h ort
r . ' n energy that can be used by t e
ism ror various pur et ~
poses, such as growth, feeding, 5
CHAPTER TWO I E ner gy Flows an d Ecosy te rn 51

Animal as different a the caterpillar and the elephant are on the same trophic level.

shelter, communicating with one another, producing seeds, For cellular respiration to occur, most organisms must have
and maintaining basic physiological functions such as con- access to oxygen or they will die. Such organisms are known
stant body temperature and breathing. Since we are unable as aerobic organisms. Some species, anaerobic organisms,
to obtain energy from photosynthesis or through chemotaxis, such as some bacteria, can survive even without oxygen. This
this is how we, and all other organisms unable to fix their makes them useful in the breakdown of organic wastes, such
own energy, get our energy supplies. as sewage.

BOX 2.2 I Deep-Sea Life

We often think of the deep - sea floor as a biological desert. In surrounding areas. The trenches cover only a small area of the
the 1970s, howeve r, scientists discovered that rich biological ocean but have a disproportionate importance on the marine
communities were supported at hydrothermal vents on the carbon balance, a topic discussed in more detail in Chapter 8.
sea floor, mainly bacteria that derive their energy from sul- In addition to microbes, other deep-sea forms of life have been
phide emissions. Similar kinds of chemoautotrophic-based discovered: an expedition to the deepest trench in the world,
communities were discovered on whale skeletons found at the Mariana Trench, east of the Philippines, photographed
depth, nourished by sulph ides produced as the carcasses a new species of snail fish at 8,143 metres deep. The white
decay. Discoveries of fossils suggest that dead whales may translucent fish has broad wing-like fins and an eel-like tail
have provided dispersal stepping stones for these com- and slowly glides over the bottom . The sea floor also contains
munities for more than 30 million years . The question then many other habitats, includ ing cold seeps, seamounts, sub-
becomes-what was the impa ct on these communities when marine canyons, abyssal plains, other oceanic trenches, and
whales were virtually eliminated from the oceans by whalers? asphalt volcanoes, sure to contain a large number of endemic
Scientists do not yet have the answer to th is question . species, with total numbers perhaps as high as 10 million .
However, we do know that the biod iversity of the sea floor Although seemingly far removed from human activities,
is much greater than imagined and may equal that of shal- deep seabeds are threatened by many of them, including
low-water tropical reefs The deep-sea trenches are thought pollution, mining, shipping. military operations, and climate
to be especially rich in microbe biod iversity because they change . Deep-sea bottom trawling is a major concern and
serve as collecting grounds for organic matter, made up of very damaging to seamounts and the cold-water co rals they
dead animals. algae, and other microbes, sourced from the sustain. These habitats are home to seve ral com m ercial
52 PART B / Th e Er o phere

bottom-dwelling fish species. Seamounts are also import- many interesting and unusual species . The gully is a Prod
. . f . lJq
ant spawning and feeding grounds for species such as marine ive ecosystem that supports a d 1vers1ty o marine organis -
mammals, sharks, and tuna, which makes them very attractive The world 's deepest-diving whale, the bottlenose Whal 1lls
fishing grounds. Deep -sea fish are particularly vulnerable to a vulnerable " species, according to the Committee one, 1s
large-scale fishing activ1t1es because of their long life cycles Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. that lives in the th e
and slow sexual maturation . Lack of information on deep-sea year round. Fin whales and northwest Atlantic blue Wh9uUy
environments and their species makes it difficult to establish both also classified as vulnerable " (Chapter 14), make u ales
whether sustainable fisheries can take place. the gully throughout the year. Deep-sea corals are a si se Of
One way to protect such environments is by establishing cant feature of the benthic fauna in the area, and nine sp h-
marine protected areas (MPAs). as discussed in Chapters 8 and are confirmed to live in the gully. MPA regulations prohibi~cies
14 . Canada has designated Sable Gully, the largest under- turbing, damaging, destroying, or removing any living rn dis,
water canyon in eastern Canada, as an MPA . The gully is organism or habitat within the gully. The MPA contains t~ine
located approximately 200 kilometres off the coast of Nova management zones, providing varying levels of protec ree
Scotia at the edge of the Scotian Shelf, where the sea floor based on conservation objectives and ecological sensitivit~ion
suddenly drops by more than 2 kilometres. More than 70 kilo- The regulations also control human activities in areas ar es
metres long and 20 kilometres wide, this area is home to 0Unct
the gully that could cause harm within the MPA boundary.

Food Chains Pacific coast and a minute Arctic flower on Baffi n Island
on the same trophic level-autotrophs. Herbivores, on th
Some of the energy captured by autotrophs is subsequently second level, range in size from elephants to locusts. The ro):
passed on to other organisms, the consumers, by means of in energy transformation, rather than the size of the organ.
a food chain (Figure 2.3). Herbivores eat the producers and ism, is the important factor in determining trophic level.
are in turn the source of energy for higher-level consum- Some organisms, such as humans, raccoons, sea anemone
ers, or carnivores (Box 2.3). Decomposers will feed on all s,
and cockroaches, are omnivores and can obtain their energ
these organisms after they die. Each level of the food chain from different trophic levels. When we eat vegetables, wear:
is known as a trophic level. A giant Douglas fir tree on the acting as primary consumers; when we eat beef, we are at

trophic level
Solar Tertiary consumers
energy (top carnivores)


trophic level
Secondary consumers
Second (carnivores)
trophic level
Primary consumers
CHAPTER TWO I F.:nngy Flows a11d Erosys te m 53

BOX 2.3 I Carnivorous Plants
Not all plants are autotrophs Carnivorous plants. such as
the pitcher plant. the floral emb lem of Newfoundland and
Labrador. ga,n their energy from ingesting the bodies of
insects that become trapped in their funnel-shaped leaves.
The plant. which grows in boggy areas across Canada. has
no photosynthetic surfaces. Instead. the leaves act as "pitch-
ers' to hold a soapy liquid from which a hapless insect can-
not escape. The plant may be aided in the decom position of
dead ,nsects by other insects that have developed imm unities
to the decomposing enzymes produced by the plant. The
plant plays host to several insects that seem to thrive on the
The carnivorou pitcher pl an t, the provinc ial flower of
environment it provides. This is an example of mutualism in
and Labrador, grows in abundance in ea tern Canada.
which both species benefit from a relationship.

the second trophic level, acting as secondary consumers; and (Figure 2-4). Overall, some Bo per cent of the annually pro-
when we eat fish that have derived their energy from eating duced plant biomass cycles through the detritus chain rather
smaller organisms, we may be tertiary consumers at the top than being consumed by herbivores. These chains are based
of the food chain. The level at which food energy is obtained on dead organic material or detritus, which is high in poten-
has some important implications, to be discussed later. tial energy but difficult to digest for the consumer organisms
We tend to concentrate on these grazing food chains, described above. However, various species of micro-organ-
but equally important are the decomposer food chains isms, bacteria, and fungi are able to digest this material as

Larger consumer

La rger consumer

FIGURE 2 .4 I Detritus-ba sed food cha in .

54 PART B I T he Ecospher e

th eir source of energy. Indeed, many large grazing animals heavily depend on the species at the preceding trophic I
such as cows and moose have such bacteria in their stomachs Were one of these species . . evel
to be drastically reduced in nu b
to help break down the cellulose in plant material. These or ma d e extmct, the chances of the role of that species b . mer
decomposers (or saprotrophs) derive their energy from dead compensated for by other species is low, and the whole e1ng
matter (sapro = putrid). They are joined by consumers such as ch am . m1g. ht we 11 co JJ apse. Th is
" situation
. . can be comp Ood
earthworms and marsh crabs, known as detritivores, which to that at the other extreme, such as a tropical forest wh area
may consume both plant and animal remains. . . d h h
th ere are many times more species an t e c ance of othere '
A decomposer food chain plays an integral role in breaking species combining to fulfill the ecological role of a deplet:
down plant and animal material into products such as car- one is much higher. This situation is sometimes referred to
bon dioxide, water, and inorganic forms of phosphorus and ecological redundancy or functional compensation, and~:
nitrogen and other elements. For example, fungi that con- assumes that a given role in an ecosystem can be played b
sume simple carbohydrates, such as glucose, first break down more than one species. A competing idea is that species ca:
dead wood. Following this phase, other fungi, bacteria, and be likened to the rivets holding an airplane together. Just as
organisms such as termites break down the cellulose that is the loss of species through extinction increasingly endangers
the main constituent of the wood. Were it not for these organ- an ecosystem-or the planet as a whole- so the likelihood of
isms, wood and other dead organisms would accumulate the plane in flight disintegrating increases as rivets are lost
indefinitely on the forest floor. because no rivets can replace them. In practice, however, many
As will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 4, detritus factors are involved, such as the relative degree of specializa.
plays a major role in ecosystem processes as a source of nutri- tion of the various organisms. In some ecosystems there may
ents and within and between ecosystem transfers of energy be examples of functional compensation; others will tend
and matter. Overall plant biom ass exceeds animal biomass more toward rivet-popping. In general, functional compen-
by a factor of 10, and hence plant biomass has received a lot sation will help build resilience, but care must be exercised
of attention in this regard. However, in certain ecosystems before generalizing the theory to all ecological systems.
animal detritus is a main factor in nutrient supply, and scien- Rarely are food chains organized in the simple manner
tists are only beginning to understand the importance of, for shown in Figure 2.3. Usually, there are many competing
example, dead salmon to the health of west coast rain forests organisms and energy paths representing food webs rather
in British Columbia. When these nutrient flows are reduced, than simple food chains (Figure 2.6).
through large-scale fishing, for example, the repercussions The number of species increases from the poles to the trop-
are felt throughout the ecosystem as vegetative growth rates ics as conditions become more amenable for life (Figure 2.7).
decline over the long term, as well as populations of species In the Arctic, for example, there are relatively few species
higher on the food chain, from insects through to bears. and therefore relatively few alternative pathways for energy
The relative importance of grazing and detrital food flow. If a prey species, such as the Arctic hare, decreases in
chains varies. The latter often dominate in forest ecosystems, number, then so will the organism dependent on it higher in
where less than 10 per cent of the tree leaves may be eaten the food chain, such as the lynx, because there are few other
by herbivores. The remainder dies and becomes the basis species upon which these organisms can feed. This gives
for the detritus food chain. In the coastal forests of British rise to the familiar population cycles in the North as preda-
Columbia, for example, there are some 140 different species tor numbers closely reflect the availability of dominant prey
of birds, mammals, and reptiles through which energy can species (Figure 2.8).
flow. In contrast, more than 8,000 known species, as well as Some ecosystems seem to be dominantly controlled by
many unknown, are involved in breaking down the soil litter. prey populations (bottom-up control) whereas others are
The same is often true in freshwater aquatic systems;where more influenced by predators (top-down control). In the lat-
there may be relatively little plant growth but abundant ter, predators restrict the size of the prey population. This
detritus from overhanging leaves and dead insects. However, seems to occur, for example, when wolves control deer, elk, or
the converse is true in marine ecosystems (see Box 2.4), where moose populations. Conversely, in some systems, the quality
90 per cent of the photosynthet ic phytoplankton (phyto = of available forage limits the number of herbivores, which in
plant, plankton = floating) may be grazed by the primary con- turn limits the number of predators. The predator numbe~
sumers, the zooplankton. are essentially limited by the energy flow through the previ-
In general, ecological theory suggests that the more species ous trophic levels. If herbivore populations fall as a result of
in the ecosystem, the more alternative pathways are avail- disease or lack of forage, this will result in a drop in predator
able for energy flow, and the better able the ecosystem is to populations because of a lack of food. Ecosystems in which
withstand stress and thereby be resilient. In the Arctic, for controls are dominantly bottom-up tend to have marked
example, a simple food chain might be phytoplankton to zoo- limits on plant productivity through abiotic factors, such as
plankton to cod to ringed seal to polar bear. All these species low nutrient supply, lack of water, and similar factors, or very
CHAPTER Two I Energy F lows and Ecohy terns 55

BOX 2.4 I Oceanic Ecosystems

From space, the Earth appears to be a blue, not a green, planet, This occurs in shallow areas, such as the Grand Banks near
reflecting the fact that 71 per cent of the Earth 's surface is Newfoundland. whe re deep ocean currents meet the coast
covered by oceans. Life originated in this blueness, perhaps o r where two deep currents meet head on. Such areas are the
most productive in what is generally an unproductive ocean,
3 5 billion years ago, and only came onto land some 450 mil-
lion years ago. Hence, much of our biological ancestry lies and they are the best sites for fisheries. Ninety per cent of
within these waters . Although we know about more differ- the marine fis h ca tch comes from these fertile nearshore wat-
ent species on land than in the oceans, the number of phyla, ers. Unfortunately, these waters are also the sites of greatest
distinguished by differences in fundamenta l body charac ter- pollution . The blueness of most of the rest of the ocean is a
istics, is higher in the oceans. Of the 33 different animal phyla, visible sig n of the low density of phytoplankton . That is why
for example, 15 exist exclusively in the ocean, and only one the sea is blue. not green .
is exclusively land based. We share the same phylum as the Given the importance o f plankton in marine ecosystems, it
fishes, the chordata, characterized by a flexible spinal cord is disconcerting that scientists predict reductions in biomass
and complex nervous system .
Through their photosynthetic activ- Depth in Low tide Opensea---+-
ity, the early bacteria that started in the -0
oceans helped to create the conditions
under which the rest of life evolved. -so
Current photosynthetic activity is no -100
less important to our survival.
Scientists estimate that the phyto- -200
plankton in the sunlit or euphotic
zone of the oceans (10 metres to 200
- soo
metres in depth) produce between
one-third and one -half of the global
oxygen supply. In doing so, they
also extract carbon dioxide from -1,0 00
the atmosphere. Some go per cent
of this is recycled through marine
food webs, but some also falls into
the deep ocean as the detritus of - 1,500
decaying organisms and is stored
as dissolved carbon dioxide in deep
ocean currents that may take more
than 1,000 years to reappear at the - 2,000
surface The oceans contain at least
so times as much gas as the atmos-
phere and are playing a critical role in
- 3,000
helping to delay the so-called green-
house effect, discussed in more detail
in Chapters 7 and 8.
These phytoplankton, so import- - 4.000
ant to atmospheric regulation, are
also the ma,n autotrophic base for
the marine food web From tiny
- 5,000
zooplank ton through to the great
whales, almost every marine ani-
mal has phytoplankton to thank for
its existence Phytoplankton flour- - 10,000
ish best ,n areas where ocean cur-
rents return nutnents from the deep Key elements of marine ecosystems.
ocean back to the euphot1c zone. --------
56 PART B I T he Eco. phere

as a result of increasing ocean temperatures associated with decli ne in zooplankton . The trophic amplificatio
n Vv'1
global climate change. If temperatures rise the predicted 2C duplicated through the food webs and have serio 11 be
. us c:o
by 2080, this will cause greater oceanic stratifi cation and qu e nces for marine ecosystem pro d uct,vity. The ch rise,
. ange
affect nutrient supply to the plankto n. resu lting in an esti- expected to be especially apparent ,n tropical ocea s are
mated 6 per cent decline in phyto plankto n and an 11 pe r ce nt ma ny poor people depend on fishing for their sustens. 'Where

close relationships between a specific plant,

a herbivore, and a carnivore. Ecosystems
reflecting top-down control typically lack
these features. However, as with most eco-
logical phenomena, these are general guide-
lines-most ecosystems contain elements of
both top-down and bottom-up control.

Biotic P ramids
The second law of thermodynamics describes
how energy flows from trophic level to trophic
level, with a loss of usable energy at each
succeeding transformation. In natural food
chains, the energy efficiency-the amount
of a system's total energy input that is trans-
formed into work or some other usable form
of energy-may be as low as 1 per cent. In gen-
eral, we expect about 90 per cent of the energy
to be lost at each level (Figure 2.9). Similar
losses may be experienced in biomass and
numbers of organisms at each trophic level.
This explains why there are fewer secondary
than primary consumers and fewer tertiary
than secondary. Carnivores must always have
the lowest numbers in an ecosystem in order
to be supported by the energy base below.
The case of the Atlantic puffins, described
in the introduction to this chapter, provides
a good example. The biomass of carnivores
(puffins) could no longer be supported by
the energy from the preceding trophic level,
the capelin. Species at the very top of the food
chain are known as apex predators (see the
"International Guest Statement" by Anak
Pattanavibool) and are especially vulnerable
to changes that occur at lower trophic levels.
Some ecosystems, however, may display an
inverted biomass pyramid. In natural grass-
lands such as those in southern Saskatchewan,
the dominant species, such as grasshoppers,
are small-bodied and do not have a large bio-
mass. In contrast, many herbivores in this sys-
tem, such as antelope and mule deer, are large
bodied and long lived, with a large total bio- FIGURE 2.6 I A simplified Great Lakes food web.
mass. The same situation exists in the oceans, Source: Adapted from Environment Canada (19 91 a;
CHAPTER Two I E nergy Flow a nd Eco y tem 57


- Lynx
80 ~

40 u
20 C:

1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
Yea r

FIGURE 2.8 I Snowshoe hare and lynx cycles, boreal forest,

Kluane, Yukon .
Source: Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments of Canada (2010 . 101 ).

because it is so short, with only three energy transformations

in which energy is lost. Longer food chains involve a propor-
tionately larger loss of energy because of the greater number
of energy transformations. Entropy dictates that long fo od
chains with five or six trophic levels, such as that supporting
a killer whale, are very scarce.
The energy pyramid also has important implications for
humans. For example, it takes between 8 and 16 kilograms
of grain to produce 1 kilogram of beef. This means that more
land must be cultivated to provide people with a diet high in
meat as opposed to a diet based on grains. Since humans are
IGURE 2.7 The number of mammal species per latitude.
one of the species that can access food energy at several dif-
>Urce: After Simpson (1964).
ferent trophic levels, in terms of energy efficiency it would be
better to operate as low on the food chain as possible-that is,
iscussed in more detail in Chapter 8. However, in both cases, as primary consumers or vegetarians. This topic is discussed
~e productivity of the plant base is much greater than that of in more detail in Chapter 10.
e herbivores.
Several reasons exist for the low energy efficiencies of nat-
ral food chains. First, not all the biomass at each trophic level
, converted into food for the next trophic level. Many organ- Productivity in ecosystems is measured by the rate at which
ms have developed characteristics to avoid being eaten by energy is transformed into biomass, or living matter, and is
mething else. For example, many plant species have thorns usually expressed in terms of kilocalories per square metre
r produce secondary chemicals to deter herbivores. Others per year. In terrestrial ecosystems, the large majority of
ave low nutritive levels. Generally, only between 10 and production comes from vascular plants, with much smaller
to per cent of the biomass of one trophic level is harvested by amounts from algae, mosses, and liverworts. In the oceans,
he next level. Furthermore, of that which is consumed, not most production comes from algae, although some vascular
11 is digested. Humans, for example, are not well equipped plants, such as sea grasses, have been found to have very high
0 break down and consume the bones or fur of animals, nor rates of production and sequestration of carbon. Gross pri-
re they equipped, compared to moose and other members of mary productivity (GPP) is the overall rate of biomass pro-
he deer family, to break down woody tissue. The proportion duction, but there is an energy cost to capturing this energy.
f ingested energy actually absorbed by an organism is the This cost, cellular respiration (R), must be subtracted from
ssirnilated food energy. Finally, as cellular respiration occurs the GPP to reveal the net primary productivity (NPP). This is
o liberate energy for the growth, maintenance, and reproduc- the amount of energy available to heterotrophs.
ion of the organism, energy is further released as heat. All ecosystems are not equal in their ability to fix biomass.
The longer the food chain, the more inefficient it is in Light levels, nutrient availability, temperature, and moisture,
:terms of energy transformation, reflecting the second law among other factors, regulate the rates of photosynthesis (see
of thermodynamics. An Arctic marine food chain that starts Box 2.5). The most productive ecosystems per unit area are
from the producers (phytoplankton) to primary consum- estua ries, swamps and marshes, and tropica l rain fores ts
ers (zooplankton) that are subsequently grazed by the lar- (Figure 2.10). Recent data indicate that the temperate rain for-
gest animals ever to exist on Earth (whales) is very efficient ests, such as those in the Pacific Maritime ecozone, are just as
58 PART B I Th <' Eeos phe r e

(eagle) 10
Usable energy
available at each
trophic level
(in k1localones)

Primary consumers
(mouse) 1,000

FIGURE 2.9 I Generalized pyramid of energy flow.

Apex Predators and Tiger Conservation in Thailand Anak Pattanavibool

Apex predators are at the top of the food chain . They are vul- an equally iconic apex predator is the tiger. Long the recipient
nerable to any changes in the trophic levels below them, but of international funding and conservation attention, the tiger
can also exert a controlling influence on all trophic levels . continues to decline in range and abundance .
Their influence on other trophic levels is often recognized The tiger is the pride of Asia's natural heritage. They used
as a trophic cascade. One of the best-known examples is to roam across Asia from the Middle East to Southeast Asia
the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, and from the Russian Far East south to Indonesia . They are
wh ich resulted in changes in behaviour of their main prey endangered because of the clash with human civilizations
species, the elk. which in turn resulted in changes in the vege- and exploitation . At the beginning of the twentieth century.
tation of the park. The same relationship has been noted in approximately 100,000 tigers existed across Asia. By 2010 th e
Banff National Park with the decline in wolf populations hav- global population had declined to about 3,500 individuals.
ing impacts throughout the ecosystem .
The habitat remaining is only 7 per cent of its historical range.
As super-predators, when no other species preys upon
Most breeding populations are in the Indian subcontinent
them except humans, apex predators often come into con-
including India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In Southeast Asia.
flict with humans. In marine ecosystems, apex predators are
breeding populations are restricted to either very large or
often considered to be at or above the fourth trophic level.
well-protected landscapes (Walston et al.. 2010).
However, in terrestrial ecosystems, the third trophic level
In Thailand, an estimated 200 _ 250 wild tigers are scat
is where the big cats, wolves. crocodiles. and hyenas are
tered in protected areas, which cover about 25 per cent of tt,e
located . The polar bear is the largest terrestrial predator, but
country's land area. Most of the remaining tigers exist in small
CHAPTER Two I Energy F low and Eco ys tem 59

numbers in heavily fragmented landscapes. Only one place in

Thailand, as detailed below, now contains a breeding popula -
tion of over 100 tigers.
Tigers face three major threats : (1) direct poaching for tiger
body parts and traditional Chinese medicines; (2) poach -
ing of their main prey species, particularly sa mbar, gaur, and
banteng; and (3) habitat alteratio n from forest to agricultural
landscapes. In Thailand, most primary forests have been frag-
mented . Furthermore, poaching still penetrates deep inside
many protected areas . Tigers and other large animals have
therefore been either wiped out or severely depleted from
many protected areas due to poaching and fragmentation
(Lynam. 2010). Tigers will survive in ecologically functioning
numbers only in areas with strong law enforcement. In India,
tigers remain only in well-guarded national parks. The extir-
pation of tigers from famous Indian tiger reserves in the early ~~~,L!i C

200 os (e.g ., Sariska and Panha National Parks) happened u


mainly because of inadequate protection . Biologists are now

Tigers at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.
finding out just how hard it is to reintroduce tigers once they
are extirpated from an area .
In Tha iland, the situation is desperate. Half of the coun- Very few species can have as great an im pact on co nse rva -
try's tiger population exists in a large (18,000 km 2 ) and we ll- tio n po licy and actions as tigers. Since 201 0 , glo ba l lead ers
guarded forest landscape named the Western Forest Complex from govern ments, non- govern m ental o rgani zation s (NGOs),
(WEFCOM). More than 2 ,000 guards are stationed in ove r 20 0 and vari o us other org anizations have met several t im es to dis-
locations to protect the area. However, the large number of cuss how to save and recover tige rs. Ea ch of the 13 tiger- range
guards will not guarantee the safety of tigers and other w ild- countri es has completed national tiger action plans. India and
life. Many times they lack the capacity and law enforce ment Nepal have proved the ir intent to recove r tiger popu lations by
training to cope with the poaching pressure. Therefore, a pro - si gnifi ca nt improvement in protected area manag em ent and
gram has been created to monitor the perfo rma nce of park enforcement. In Tha iland 's WEFCO M, tiger numbers in the core
guards. Currently, park guards in WEFCOM use a "Sm art" patro l area have been gradually increasing, and there is evidence
system, which involves a suite of implementat ion com ponents that t igers have di spersed into other protected area s on the
necessary for effective law enforcement, inclu ding strategic perimeter. This recovery pattern confi rms the importance of
planning, adequate training, sufficient staff levels, equip - preserving habitat for future use.
ment and other resource needs, standa rdized law enforce - An additio nal challe nge for WEFCOM is that it is located on the
ment (LEM) protocols, and full integra tion of LEM data into an border with Myanmar. Both countries need to work together
adaptive management cycle w here res ults are used system - to redu ce impacts from future development projects (e.g.,
atically to improve management practices. An effective Smart road s, dam s) that will fragment the tige r habitat. People have
patrol promotes good gove rn ance and "best practi ce" by to und erstand the lo ng - term benefits of conserving tigers as
empowering park guards to engage fully in deci sion-making a key part of the ecosystem for t his and future generations.
processes with park managers (Department of National Parks,
Wildlife and Plant Conservation, 201 3 ).
Wildlife scientists now use ca mera traps as a reli able m ethod Dr Anak Pattanavibool is directo r of the Wildlife
Conse rvation Society in Thailand and a lecturer
to count tigers, based on the fact that ea ch ind ividual tiger ha s ~
in th e Department of Conservati o n at Kasetsart
a unique stripe pattern. With this techn o lo gy, scienti sts can ~
Unive rsity in Bangko k.
estimate the number of tigers more precise ly and reliably than ~
previously. In WEFCOM, the tigers are now monito re d annually ~
with camera trapping and capture analysis, a metho do lo gy ~
that has revealed about 100 tigers. 8

productive as the tropical forests. Other ecosyst em s are more Many industries were preferentially located at these sites
limited because of deficiencies in one or more of t he charac- when there w as little r ealization of the critical ecological role
t . .
en st1 cs noted above. A desert for example lacks w ater, the played by estuaries. However, one estuary, the Musquash in
A . I '
retie l acks heat, and the ocean lacks nutrients. the Bay of Fundy, should experience reduced degradation in
In Canada some of our most highly industrialized and pol- the future. It has been declared a marine protected area under
luted lands are adjacent to estuaries. These sites are highly Canada's Oceans A ct (Chapter 8), and one of the main charac-
desirable with access to both ocean transport and fresh water. teristics noted for its designation was its high productivity. It
60 PART B I T he Eco. p lwre

BOX 2.5 I The Iron Experiment

w as also hoped that the experiment would
ra t e. It d l . . 9ene
The village of Old Massett on Haida Gwaii was thrust onto funds by capturing carbon in a eve oping international rate
the international stage in 2012 as it made headlin es in inter- arket. Carbon is soaked up by the phytoplankt Car.
national newspapers and received co ndemnation from UN bon m l kt d' . on il
other organisms feed off the P an on, ie, sink to the oc~ r\Q
bodies The source of the unwa nted fa me was an experi- bottom, and sequester the carbon . But the international ilns
ment conducted there, desi gned by a US entrepreneur and bon trading market has yet to develop adequately to Car.
impleme nted by th e Haida Salmo n Restoration Corporation . Perlllit
this kind of trading .
to boost the pro ductivity of th e Pacific Ocean off Haida Gwaii
Unfortunately, there are many o_the~ scientific con, .
at a time when j uve nile sa lmon were in the area . They did this cations from this sequence, compl1cat1ons not taken Pl1-
by dumping into th e ocean more than 100 tonnes of iron dust . t l . . into
t and national and rnterna 1ona sc1ent1sts were
made up of iron sulphate fertilizer and iron oxide, over about ace Oun . . uncin 1

mous in condemning the expe ri ment. Delegates in a rn

1 km 2 about 3 00 kilometres west of the islands.
ing of the United Nations' International Maritime Organiz eet-
Iron is o ften a dominant limiting factor in oceanic eco- . t . at1on
publicly condemned the expe nmen as irresponsible: T
systems, and add ing iron was expected to produce a phyto- l t d he
experiment violated 1nternat1ona an 1- umping laws, and
plankton bloom (wh ich it did, of about 10,000 km 2 .) and have
there were calls for the perpetrators to be prosecuted, but in
repercussions throughout the food chain that would produce
more food for the juvenile salmon and improve their survival the end no action was taken.

is among the few remaining ecologically intact estuaries in a most strongly felt and where successional processes, as dis-
region that has seen extensive modification ofits salt marshes. cussed in the next chapter, appear to be accelerating. Similar
Between 1985 and 2006, primary productivity increased trends have occurred globally, where increases in tropical
markedly on over 22 per cent of Canada's vegetated surface productivity are attributed to reduced cloud cover.
and declined on only 1 per cent (Federal, Provincial, and Humans take about 40 per cent of terrestrial NPP for their
Territorial Governments of Canada, 2010). The main growth own use. The remainder supports all the other organisms on
areas are in the North, where global climate change has been Earth, which in turn maintain the environmental conditions

Swamps and marshes
Tropical rain forest
Temperate forest
Northern coniferous
forest (taiga)
Agricultural land
Temperate grassland
Lakes and streams
Continental shelf

Tundra (arctic and alpine) -

Desert scrub
Extreme desert I
f I I I I
0 800 1,600 2,4QQ 3,200 4,000 I
S,600 6~ I loo
FIGURE 2.10 I Estimated annual average net productivity of ' OO 7,200 8,000 8,8
. . k'l . producers per u 't . o(te5
s _a_re__::.g_1v_e_n_rn_ 1_o_c_a_lo
_ rie_s_:_
f =en:.:.e:r:..:g~y~p:'._'.r_::o~d~u~c.:e~d~:.':_S< ni of area in principal types of tife Z
- per square met
- re Per year.

CHAPTER TWO I Energy Flows and Eco ystems 61

maximizing NPP. This is an example of the decision regula-

tors discussed in Chapter 1. Natural forest system decision
regulators may allow trees to achieve ages of several hundred
to more than a thousand years before they die. The control
system exerted by forest management determines that the
life of the trees will be that which maximizes NPP, before
considerable amounts of energy become devoted to hetero-
trophic respiration (Figure 2.11). The age of the trees in sys-
tems managed for forestry will hence be much younger than
in natural systems.
Auxiliary energy flows allow some ecosystems and sites to
be especially productive. For example, tidal energy in an estu-
ary is a form of auxiliary energy flow that helps to bring in
nutrients and dissipate wastes so that organisms do not have
to expend energy on these tasks and can devote more energy
to growth. Agriculture, as discussed in Chapter 10, relies
extensively on the inputs of auxiliary energy in the form of
pesticides, fertilizer, tractor fuel, and the like to supplement
the natural energy from the sun to augment crop growth. In
many cases, this subsidy, mostly derived from fossil fuels,
exceeds the amount of energy input from the sun. Without
this subsidy, productivity would be much reduced. There is
a cost to the subsidy, however, in terms of high energy costs
and the environmental externalities created as the subsidy
disperses into the environment in the form of pollution.

Ecosystem Structure
The energy flows described above are all part of the eco-
E tuaries are among the most productive ecosystems. Unfortunately, sphere. The ecosphere can be broken down in size to smaller
they are also very convenient site for industrial activity, such as the units. At the smallest level is the individual organism. A
log boom storage seen here in Campbell River, British Columbia, which group of individuals of the same species is a population. The
inhibit productivity. populations in a particular environment are known as a com-
munity. The ecosystem is a collection of communities inter-
acting with the physical environment. However, ecosystems
that keep us alive. The human population is projected to represent a somewhat abstract conceptualization of the
increase by about 40 per cent over the next 50 years, as dis-
cussed in Chapter 1. It is highly doubtful that the Earth's sys-
tems could withstand a concomitant increase in the amount GPP
of NPP being appropriated for human use-another illustra-
tion of the carrying capacity challenge we face.
In addition to primary productivity, we can measure net
community productivity (NCP), including heterotrophic and
autotrophic respiration. Measurements indicate that as com-
munities mature, although GPP and NPP rise, an increasing I
proportion of their energy is devoted to heterotrophic res- Crop
piration. In mature communities, the amount of respiration I NPP
may be sufficient to account for all the energy being fixed
by photosynthesis. There is thus no net gain, leading to some
Leaf area index (time)
foresters' characterization of such communities as "decadent"
because they are mainly interested in the productivity of FIGURE 2.11 I The general relationship between
the autotrophs. productivity and t ime as a forest matures. Foresters might
cons ider the optimal stage of the forest to be at maximum
Over time, natural systems mature toward maximization
NPP, even though GPP continues to increase over time .
of NCP. On the other hand, humans are often concerned with
62 PART B I The Ecosphere

environment that can range greatly in scale. Because of the

Ahiotic Components
highly interactive nature of the relationship between organ- The food chains described above constitute
. . the living or
biotic components of ecosystems. Ab 1otlc components 1
isms and their environment, it is often difficult to define pre-
cisely the boundary of an ecosystem. Ecosystems are open an important role in determining how. . these
. comp ay
systems and exchange material and organisms with other ents are distributed. Important a b10t1c actors mclude Ii h
d d 1 h . gt
ecosystems. Ecosystems and communities thus provide use- temperature, wm , water, an soi c aractenstlcs such a'
ful abstractions for the study of the environment but should pH, soil type, and nutrient status. All these factors influenc s
not be taken as precise categories that will be agreed upon by different organisms in various ways. .The interaction
d am onge
these characteristics and the . orgamsms an between the
all scientists.
Similar ecosystems can be grouped together as ecozones, organisms themselves determmes where each organism can
representing their dominant vegetation and animal commun- grow and how well it may grow.
ities. The main ecozones in Canada are shown in Figure 2.12. Soils are critical in determining the vegetation growth of
In turn, these can be grouped into the largest classification an area (Box 2.6). Soil is a mixture of inorganic materials
of life forms, biomes, based upon dominant vegetation and such as sand, clay, and pebbles; decaying organic matter such
adaptations of other organisms to that particular environ- as leaves; water; and air. This mixture is home to billions of
ment. Globally, six main biomes are recognized: marine, micro-organisms that are continuously modifying and devel-
freshwater, forest, grassland, desert, and tundra. Canada has oping the soil. In the absence of these organisms, Earth would
as many biomes as any country in the world. The main fac- be a sterile rock pile rather than a rich life-supporting environ-
tors that control biome distribution are water availability and ment. Most of these organisms are in the surface layer of the
temperature. Figure 2.13 summarizes how these factors influ- soil, and one teaspoon may contain hundreds of millions of
ence biomes on the global scale.

18 Terrestrial ecozones
12 Marine ecozones
1 Fresh water ecozone

O . 1000
f-.J!!!omet~ Mixedwood Plains


2 12 I Ecozones of Canada.
Source Adapted from CCEA. I ecozones lM v5_,1na/
- map%o20V2014021Jpdf
---:...:..__ _______
CHAPTER Two I E n( rgy F lows a nd E<'o ys te ms 63





80 -
"'~ 70
41 60 -
~ , ,1' l.,. .: '
. "4/ . . . -~ .' ' ~. .

-'E~ 50 -
> 40-




Cool Temperate
Average temperature

FIGURE 2.13 I Influence of temperature and rainfall on biome.

Tropical desert~ a re e:1.lreme em ironmen l \\ ith the holiest temperature combined with the lowest precipi tati on in the \\ orld , re ulting in no
,egelation gro\\ th o, er,, ide areas. Animab that live there have p cia] adapla lionb lo the e condition . One exa mple i the smallest can id in
the ,,orld. the fennec fox, fou nd in the , orth ahara, and often old a p ts lo vi itor . The fox i noc turn al lo avoid the heat of the day and ha
man) internal adaptation to wilh btand the earing heat. The la rge ea r help di s ipate hea t but are a l o crucial to the acute hearing of the fox
\\hich can hear the movements of prey specie hidin g under the sa nd . The fox is li Led on the Internati onal Union for Conservation of ature'l,
Red Li-.t of enrlangrred ~pecies ( Chapter 14).
64 PART B I The Ecosphere

bacteria, algae, and fungi. In addition, many larger species- of bedrock or where sediments have been deposited f
roundworms, mites, millipedes, and insects-play vital roles elsewhere by water, ice, landslides, or wind. Over ce rolll
in this complex ecology. 1es, ongomg 1 an cl chemica
physica 1 weat henng and or ntur..
Most soils form from the parent material where they mod 1'fy t h"1s mixture.
activities As t he parent material bganic
are found. This may originate from the weathered remains .
cl own, morgamc . 1 h 1. . reaks
e ements sue as ca cmm, uon, manganes

BOX 2.6 I Soils in Ca nada

Just as we ca n define ecozones, soil scientists can define soil Gleysols cover only 1.3 per cent and are found in areas that
zones that grou p together soils that are relatively similar in are often waterlogged.
terms of thei r measurable characteristics . A glance at the soil
Luvisols cover 8.8 per cent an d o ccur in a wide variety of
map of Canada (Figure 2.14) w ill reveal a close resemblance
wooded ecosystems. They have higher clay content than
to the ecozone map, since at this scale both tend to reflec t the
gross climatic and geological conditions of the regi on . The
Canad ian System of Soil Classification includes nine orders, Organics cover 4 _1 per cent of Canada, and are formed in
the largest category of classification : wetland ecosystems where decom pos ition rates are slow.

Brun isols cover 8.6 pe r cent and are brown soils found mainly Podzols are found beneath heathlands and coniferous for-
under fore sts. ests. are relatively nutrient poor, and cover 15.6 per cent of
Chernozems cover 5.1 per cent, occur under grasslands, and
are some of the most productive soils. Regosols cover less than 1 per cent of Canada and vary little
from their parent material.
Cryoso ls are the dominant soils in Canada, coverin g some
40 per cent of t he country's land mass. and are fo und in asso - Solonets are saline soils, covering 0-7 per cent of Canada, and
ciation w ith permafrost. are found mostly in grassland ecosystems.

Dominant Soil Type

D Brunisolic



Pacific Q Gleysolic

. Organic




D Unclassified

j Ocean

FIGURE 2 . 14 I Soil zones of Canada.

CHAPTER Two I Energy Flow and Eco y terns 65

and phosphorus (Chapter 4) are released. The amount of

nutrients in the material and the speed of breakdown are
major influences on the fertility of the resulting soil; for
example, hard rocks such as granite break down slowly and
yield few nutrients. Different soils will thus result, depending
on the location. These various processes result in different
)ayers forming in the soil, called soil horizons. A view across
these horizons is called a soil profile. Figure 2.15 shows
a generalized profile. However, not all soils have all these
different horizons.
Time is also a critical factor in soil development. Soils
that have been exposed to millions of years of chemical and B- horizon
physical weathering, such as many tropical soils, have often
lost their entire nutrient content. Conversely, where glaci-
ation has scraped all the soil away, as in much of Canada
C-horizon { Varied
as recently as 10,000 years ago, the hard rocks, such as the (transition
granite of the Canadian Shield, have had little opportunity zone)
for weathering. They are also infertile. However, soils can be Rock or
D- horizon {
very fertile where retreating ice sheets deposited large quan- (parent
tities of clay rich in nutrients, as on the Prairies.
Soils also differ in their texture, or sizes of different materi-
FIGURE 2.15 I Generalized soil profile.
als. Clay is the finest, followed by silt, sand, and then gravel,
the coarsest. Soils that contain a mixture of all these with
decomposed organic material, or humus, are called loams factors necessary for growth must be available in certain min-
and often make the best soils for vegetation growth. Texture is imum quantities if an organism is to survive. Thus, a surplus
a main determinant of soil permeability, or the rate at which of water will not compensate for an absence of an essential
water can move through the soil. Water moves very slowly nutrient or adequate warmth. In other words, a chain is only
through soils composed mainly of the smallest particles, clay, as strong as its weakest link. The weakest link is known as the
and the soil easily becomes waterlogged. On the other hand, dominant limiting factor. A major goal of agriculture is to
the large spaces between particles of sand or gravel lead to remove the effect of the various limiting factors. Thus, aux-
rapid drainage, and the soils may be too dry to support good iliary energy flows are employed to ensure that a crop has no
vegetation growth. Plants obtain their nutrient supply neces- competition from other plants (weeding), or that water supply
sary for growth from ions dissolved in the soil water, and so is adequate (irrigation), or that the plant has optimal nutrient
permeability is critical. supply (fertilizer) (Chapter 10).
Soil has many different chemical characteristics. One of
the most important is the pH value (see Chapter 4)1 measur-
ing the acidity/alkalinity of the soil, which helps to determine
which minerals are available and in what form. Different
plants have different mineral requirements. The pH is influ-
enced by many factors including the parent material, type
of vegetation, and hydrology. Atmospheric deposition can
also be significant, both from natural and human sources.
Even in relatively pristine areas, such as the southern Rocky
Mountains, the deposition of nitrates and sulphates from the
atmosphere is enough to have detrimental impacts on the
sensitive alpine ecology (Wasiuta et al. 2015). At the other end
of the landscape scale, on agricultural lands, farmers often
try to change the acidity of their soils, for example, by adding
lime if the soil is too acidic or sulphur if the soil is too alkaline. In northern climate~. , egetalion ~truC'ture is , er} simple, ab both low
Just as the laws of thermodynamics explain energy flows, temperature and !011 rainfall result in growth condition in 1,hich few
~pecies can ,uni1 e. In the hort <\retie summer, ho11 e1er, areas of tundra
some principles help us to understand how organisms react
are ablaze with brightly coloured A01, er~, uch a the e mountain aven~
to different abiotic influences. The first of these is known as and oxy tropi~ on Victoria I land, unarnt.
the limiting factor principle. This principle tells us that all
66 PART B I T he Ecosph <'r e

,Q Zone of I Zone of Zone of I . Zone Of
-:a into lerance I physiologica l physiological, intoteran
sa. I stress stress c:e

Low Abiotic factor

FIGURE 2.16 I Range of tolerance.

The corollary of the above is that all organisms have a range of the range of tolerance for trees, and grasses will dom 1
of conditions that they can tolerate and still survive. This is because they have a tolerance for water stress in the ord
er of
known as the range of tolerance for a particular species. 100 millimetres per year. Below that l_evel, even grasses run
This range is bounded on each side by a zone of intolerance into their zone of intolerance, and cacti, sagebrush, and other
for which limiting fa ctors are too severe to permit growth drought-resistant species dominate.
(Figure 2.16). There may, for example, be too much or too little Organisms react not to just one abiotic factor, such as
water. As conditions improve for the particular factor, certain water availability, but to all the factors necessary for growth.
individuals within the population can tolerate the conditions, Sometimes the optimal range for one factor will not overlap
but because the conditions still are not optimal, relatively few with the optimal range for ot her factors; the organism is thus
individuals can exist. This is known as the zone of physio- in the zone of physiological stress for that factor, which would
logical stress. Still further amelioration creates a range where become the dominant limiting factor. Organisms may also be
conditions are ideal for that species, the optimum range. out-competed for a particular factor in their optimum range
Here, in theory, barring other factors, there will be the h igh- by another organism with a greater tolerance to that environ-
est population of the particular organism. mental factor and again be forced into a zone of physiological
Water availability is often the critical factor that deter- stress. In other words, the simple single-factor model repre-
mines differences between commu nities. Where precipita- sented in Figure 2.13 is more complicated because numerous
tion exceeds about 1,000 millimetres per year, for example, abiotic and biotic influences must also be taken into account.
trees will usually dominate the landscape if other factors The model does, however, provide a useful conceptual tool to
are suitable. Below 750 millimetres, precipitation falls short help understand the spatial distribution of organisms.

., C

~ ome pecies, uch as the black bear are \'ery adaptablt.> and haie ~
.. relatively broad range of tolerance. 0~ the Pacific cou~t. black beJI!'
Q. are frequent cavengers of the intertidal zone \\ lwrt> mam ittnt arc'
con I'cl ere d potential food . The year-round a\ uilabilit\
' abund.I nl
of an
The panda i a cla ic example of a peciali t pecie . and varied food ource re uJt rn
very Iarge rndn
, , ll, Iua1...

CHAPTER TWO I Energy F low and Eco y tern 67

Biotic Components intruders. Grizzly bears establish such territories, which may
be as large as 1,000 km 2 for dominant males, although the
other species also have an important role in influencing spe- possibility of defending such a large territory from intruders
cies distributions and abundance. Species interact in several at all times is remote. During the breeding season, male rob-
ways, including in competition for scarce environmental ins establish and defend nesting territories, the boundaries of
resources. Each species needs a specific combination of the which are advertised in song. This kind of behaviour aims to
physical, chemical, and biological conditions for its growth. establish sufficient resources for breeding pairs to be success-
This is known as the niche of that species. Where the species ful. Ultimately, intraspecific competition contributes to regu-
lives is known as the habitat. lation of population size in areas where favourable habitat is
The competitive exclusion principle tells us that no two limited, since those individuals unable to defend territories
species can occupy the same niche in the same area. Most are outcast to less favourable areas where their likelihood of
species have a fundamental niche, representing the potential success is limited.
range ofconditions that they can occupy, as well as a narrower
realized niche, representing the range actually occupied. The Biotic Relationships
physical conditions for growth exist throughout the funda- There are other kinds of relationships between species
mental niche, but the species may be out-competed in parts besides competition. In predation, for example, a predator
of this area through the overlapping requirements of other species benefits at the expense of a prey species. The lynx
species. Specialist species have relatively narrow niches and eating the hare and the osprey eating the fish are familiar
are generally more susceptible to population fluctuations examples of this kind of relationship, although in a broader
as a result of environmental change. Many endangered spe- sense we should also consider the herbivore eating the plant.
cies are specialists. The panda is a classic example of such a Predation is a major factor in population control and usually
specialist, with a total concentration on one plant, bamboo, results in the immediate death of the prey species. A predator
as a source of food. Whenever the bamboo supply falls, as must be able to overwhelm and kill prey on a regular basis
it does after it flowers, this specialist species has few suit- without getting hurt. Usually, predators are bigger than their
able alternative sources of food. Historically, when bamboo prey and often target weaker members of the prey population
was abundant this did not particularly matter, because the to avoid getting injured. They may also hunt as a group to
pandas simply moved to a new area. However, as the animals improve the likelihood of a kill and minimize the possibility
have become increasingly restricted to smaller and more iso- of a debilitating injury.
lated reserves, it has become a major problem. One theory that addresses the relationship between the
In Canada, specialist species include many of the endan- benefit of making a kill and feeding against the cost of the
gered species discussed in later chapters, such as the burrowing energy expended to make the kill is optimal foraging theory.
owl and the whooping crane. Generalist species, on the other The theory recognizes that there is a point of compensation
hand, like the black bear and coyote, may have a very broad between the benefit of obtaining the prey and the costs of
niche, where few things organic are not considered a potential doing so and that the predator's behaviour adjusts to opti-
food item. Such generalist species have adapted most success- mize the benefits. It may be more worthwhile, for example,
fully to the new environments created by humans. to hunt a smaller prey more often, even though it will result
in less food intake, if the smaller prey can be dispatched with
Competition little fea r of injury and eaten quickly so that another predator
Intraspecific competition occurs among members of the cannot steal it. Optimal foraging theory also suggests that as
same species, whereas interspecific competition occurs one type of prey becomes scarce, most predators will switch
between different species. Both forms of competition result prey if they can. Several examples of this kind of behaviour
from demands for scarce resources. Intraspecific competi- are discussed within the marine context in Chapter 8.
tion occurs particularly where individual species densities Prey species have evolved many strategies to avoid being
are very high. Interspecific competition occurs where spe- transferred along the food chain. Some plants develop
cies niches are similar. Competition may be reduced through physical defences such as thorns, while others may evolve
resource partitioning in which the resources are used at dif- chemical defences such as poisons to deter their predators.
ferent times or in different ways by species with an overlap of The chemicals manufactured by plants provide the raw
fundamental niches. Hawks and owls, for example, both hunt material for many of our modern medicines, such as aspirin,
for similar types of prey but at different times, since owls are which comes from willows. Animal species employ a wide
mainly nocturnal. variety of predator avoidance strategies ranging from camou-
Intraspecific competition may lead to the domination flage, alarm calls, and grouping to flight.
of specific areas by certain individuals; the area is known A special kind of predator-prey relationship is parasit-
as a territory and may be aggressively defended again st ism, where the predator lives on or in its prey (or host). In this
68 PART B / The Ecosphere

case, the predator is often smaller than the prey and gains its
nourishment from the prey over a more exten d ed time Per-
iod that may lead to the eventual death of the host. This ~ay
cause the death of the parasite too, although some parasites,
such as dog fleas and mosquitoes, can readily switch hosts.
Tapeworms, ticks, lamprey, and mistletoe are all examples
of parasites. . .
Not all relationships between species are necessanly detn-
mental to one of the species. Mutualism is the term used to
describe situations in which the relationship benefits both
species. These benefits may relate to enhanced food sup-
plies, protection, or transport to other locations. The rela-
tionship between the nitrogen-fixing bacteria and their host
plants, described in Chapter 4, is an example of such a rela-
This Amazonian bromeliad is growing a a epiphyte high on the brand.,
tionship that results in enhanced nutrition for both species.
of a tree.
Other examples include the relationship between flowering
plants and their pollinators, which results in the transport
of pollen to other plants, and the protection offered by ants
Keystone Species
to aphids in return for the food extracted from plants by the
aphids. Box 2.7 describes another example. Interactions that Species with a strong influence on the entire community are
appear to benefit only one partner but do not harm the other known as keystone species. They are named after the final
are examples of commensalism. The growth of epiphytes, wedge-shaped stone laid in an arch. Without the keystone,
plants that use others for support but not nourishment, is all the other stones in the arch will collapse. In Canada, our
one example. national symbol, the beaver, is a good example of such a

BOX 2.7
I Nemo: One Complicated Fish!
Clownfi sh are one of the w orld's most recognized fish , well
aquarium trade, and are thought to make up almost half of
k~own through the character of Nemo in the Disney film th e global aquarium t rade, w ith only half of that trade being
Finding Nemo. Living in a mutualistic relationship with sea
supplied by breeding . Clownfish are now rare in some areas
anemones, they are fi ercely territorial and protect the anem -
where th ey were previously plentiful due to this trade.
?nes from butterfly fi sh, wh ich feed on anemon e tentacles . It
Is th ou~h t that the clownfish themselves may have developed
immunity .to the butterfly fish stings through co-evolution, a
~rocess discussed in more detail in Chapter 3. The clown-
fish also excrete a large amount of ammonia, which fuels an
,~crease in photosynthetic microscopic algae that in turn pro -
vide_the anemones with energy in exchange for somewhere
to live. The anemones also benefit from the food scr
brought by the clownfis h. aps
T The complicate~ life of the clownfish does not stop there.
f he\ ar~ sequential herma phrodites, meaning that if th
ema e dies, the largest male changes sex and e
female role, and the largest juvenile grows mor take.s on the
becomes the breeding fema l Th . e quickly and
of the e . e. e male fish takes most care
. ggs, guarding and fanni ng them until the ha
Native to the waters of the Pa cific and I d' y tch .
fish are omnivores and feed . . n ,an Oceans, the
pri mari ly on zoo l k
po.pulations have come under g t P an ton . Their
. rea er stress sin h .
larizat,on ,n the Disney . d ce t e,r popu-
mov,e, ue to demand f
s rom the eek thp sht>lt er of I .
-- l ltir urwmont' off th MaldiH:,.
CHAPTER TWO I E nergy Flows a nd Ecosy tern s

Landscape Ecology I Chris Ma lc olm

connectivity is the degree to which th e landscape facili-
essful environmental resource management tates or restricts m ovem ent betwee n and among habitat
. keydto succ
t nding of the ecological relationsh ips between patches (Taylor et al., 1993). Landscape co nnectivity ca n fur-
is an un ers thea many environme ntal components that exist .
ther be divided into structural and functional connectivity.
and among me These compo nents are connected .in a
Structu ra l co nnectivity focu ses solely o n the physica l rela-
in. space d t1
h anf om the micro-scale (e nergy and nutrient. flows). tio nships betw een habitat patches su ch as fragm entation,
h1erarc Y r meso-scale (o rganisms, . .
populations, and com- co rrido rs, or distan ces between th em , while functional co n-
throug h the .
t ) to the macro-scale (ecosystems and the biosphere). nectivity includ es the behavioural response s of organi sms to
rnun1 1es . in eastern North American deciduous fo rests, stru ctura l connectivity. Spatial ecology has a decided geo -
For exa mple ,
one year's production of acorns by oak trees, termed mast- gra phica l emphasis that examines how the spatial arrange-
ing. can influence the prevalence of Lyme disease, spread by ments of organisms, populations, and landscapes influence
black-legged ticks, two to th ree years later. A good produc- ecological dynamics (Cotlinge, 2010) . Ecological integrity
tion of acorns attracts white -footed mice and white-tailed describes a natural system in which the interconnected w eb
deer. The deer spend up to 40 per cent of their time in the for- of components and processes, from nutrient and en ergy
est in high mast yea rs and only 5 per cent in low mast years, a flows to populations of species within complex commun ities,
spatial pattern of habitat selection based on differential acorn are intact and functioning. Ecological integrity tends to be
production on a temporal scale . The mice host a bacteri um, an idealized concept, as gaining a holistic understanding of
Borrelia burgdorferi, which they spread to the ticks, w hich
a landscape through one of the other approaches described
both increase in numbers as the mice population grows and
above is extremely difficult!
spread to the deer that spend more time in proximity to the
As an ecological biogeographer, I, along with my stu-
mice. As the deer move about in and out of the fo rest, they
dents, have been examining patterns of movement within fish
expand the range of the ticks. The ticks carrying Borrelia
populations at the landscape scale. We have been examin-
burgdorferi can cause Lyme disease if they co me into con-
ing functional connectivity for northern pike, both in regard
tact with humans. Further complicating this relatio nship, the
to natural and anthropogenic structure . In the southern por-
mice often eat the pupae of gypsy moths, whi ch control the
tion of Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Clear and
moth population. If the moths outbrea k, howeve r, they feed
South Lakes are separated by a narrow sand barrier bar several
on oak tree leaves, redu cing acorn prod uction and ultimately
metres wide . Clear Lake is a large, deep, mesotrophic take (see
the potential for Lyme di sease (Jones et al., 1998).
Chapter 4). while South Lake is small, shallow, and eutrophic.
There are a number of approaches to understa ndin g rela -
Northern pike spawning habitat in Clear Lake is rare and poor
tionships across space and ti me at various scales. Various term s
describe the meso-scale approach, including "landscape ecol- in quality, while South Lake provides prime spawning habitat.
ogy," "landscape connectivity," "spatial ecology," and "eco - However, the pike can only enter South Lake if the spring melt
logical integrity. "Landsca pe" is the common term at thi s scale breaks through the barrier bar, creating a temporary corridor.
al th ough it does not have a universal definition, wh ich ca~
make the development of manag ement policies w ith respect
to landscape-scale phenomena confusing . However, those
who study wildlife movements generally define "landscape" as
a heterogeneous area of land composed of a mosaic of habitat
types. Landscapes come in the form of the patchwork of tun-
dra, per_ mafrost lakes, spruce krum holtz, bogs, and fens of the
Subarctic, the glac1ate d network of kettle ta kes granite out-
crops, and coniferous forests of the boreat Cana~ian Shield or E
~e 8
k ~ nsiYion of temperate rain forest to rocky tidal pools and ,
elp forests on British Columbia's west coast. C
. Landscape. ec o Iogy .1sthe science
. of studyi ng and attempt- ~
ing to improve th e relationships between spatial patterns ~
and ecological processes on a multitude o f spatial scales
Measuri ng pike from the Little askatchewan River.
and organizat'1ona t tevels (Wu and Hobbs, 2007). Landscape

70 PART B / The Ecosphe1e

This does not occu r every year. In th e spring, prior to spawn- Clear Lake, 30 metres deep, lives a small benthic fish the
ing, we placed VHF transmitte rs on 40 northern pike in Clear ' Slim
sculpin (Cottus cognatus). In early summer, like many Y
Lake and watched as 39 of th em e nte red South Lake when 0th
temperate lakes, Clear Lake stratifies into two thermal la er
a corridor opene d in the barrie r bar. We placed micro-VHF The epilimnion, a warmer upper layer, remains connecttrs
transmitters in the ovid uct of 19 of the 40 pike, which wou ld mixing processes at the surface, which help to maintain d_to
be expelled with eggs . We relocate d 15 of the micro-trans - solved oxygen levels. The hypolimnion. a lower colder ladis.
mitters, all in South Lake. We were able to demonstrate that does not mix with the epilimnion; it beco mes disconne Yer,
the northern pike po pulation in Clear Lake depends on a nat- . Cted
from the surface oxygen source, and dissolved oxygen lev
ura l, ephemeral con nectivity to South Lake; one that requires decline over the summer. Dissolved oxygen is a limiting fa e~
conservation of the landscape in a manner to allow this pro- for fish presence, which in turn can be used to measure ctor
cess to continue. eco.
logical health. In cooperation ~ith Parks Canada, my students
As anthropogenic habitat fragmentation increases, there is and I have discovered that during the summer, dissolved
a pressing need to understand its impact on connectivity. The gen levels in the hypolimnion of Clea r La ke can decline tt
Little Saskatchewan River, in southwestern Man itoba, was div- level at which slimy sculpins must move o ut of their preferre;
ided into five disjunct stretches by a series of dams and weirs habitat in the deepest water. Are th ese low levels of dissolved
between 1820 and 19 60. These barriers impeded upstream oxygen natural or anthropoge nically enhanced? Have dis-
movement of fish. Between 1992 and 2004, fishways were solved oxyge n levels always dropped to levels that require
constructed around three of the dams. Again usi ng VHF te lem- slimy sculpins to move to areas of higher oxygen concentra-
etry, we discovered that connectivity up and down the river tions, or have humans contrib uted to lower levels by perhaps
is extremely important. Pike routinely climb fishways and fall increasing e utrophic processes in Clear Lake?
back down over da ms, often more than once a year. They also One of the wonderful yet problematic aspects of eco-
show site fi delity o utside of the spawning season, re peatedly logical research at the landscape scale is the great expanse
return ing to the sa me location within days or weeks, although of unknown causal relationships. There's so much to learn.
it might requ ire trave lli ng back and fo rth around a dam. We so many myste ries to solve! But at the sa me time. natural
even recorded two pike that swam 120 kilometres upstream! reso urce management is frau ght with difficult decisions and
Landscape genetics, the study of how landsca pe features controversy in the face of th e unknown.
influence population genetics, has revealed to us that th e re
is no significant genetic variability in no rthern pike with in th e
river system. Th is connectivity withi n the Little Saskatchewan Chris Malcolm (right) is an Associate Profes
River would not have occurre d durin g the perio d between j sor in Geography at Brandon University.

dam and fishway construction . i

Sometimes it is not function a l connectivity but the dynamic u ~

natu re of limiting factors re lated to connectivity of habitat
com po nents that affects wildlife hab itat selection . Back in u

species (Box 2.8). Beavers can have a profound impact on their such as the great whales (discussed in Chapter 8), which have
environments through the dams they build that raise and been decimated over the last couple of centuries.
lower water levels. This, in turn, affects the limits of tolerance
of other species in the community that may suddenly find
themselves submerged under a beaver pond or facing lower
water levels downstream. Different species will have differ- Over billions of years, interaction between the abiotic aocl
ent reactions to this change, depending on, for one thing, biotic factors through the process of evolution, discuss~d
their range of tolerance relating to water. However, when a in more detail in the next chapter, has produced many M
keystone species is removed, there is generally a cascading ferent life forms. Biodiversity is the sum of all these inter
effect throughout the ecosystem as other species are affected. actions, and high biodiversity is often taken as an indicator
The same species may be a keystone in some communities for healthy ecosystems.
an d not in others, depending on the community composition Biodiversity is usually recognized at three different levels:
in that particular locale.
It is especially significant when a keystone species is 1. Genetic diversity is the variability in genetic mak~up
removed from an area, or extirpated, by human activity. Such among individuals of the same species and the ulu~
changes may take some time before they become obvious.
Changes to soil characteristics caused by the extermination
a~e so~rce_ ofbiodivers~ty at all levels. In ge~:ral,
d1vers1ty m a populat10n increases the ab1hty to a
of major herbivores, such as bison from the prairie, may take inbreeding and withstand stress.
centuries before they become noticeable and are generally 2 , Aspecies . 1s. a group oflife forms that resemb le one a nothef
not reversible. The same is true for the other large grazers, .
an d can mter breed successfully. Species divers'tyi te
CHAPTER Two I Energy Flow and E co ys tem 71

BOX 2.8 I Canada's National Symbol- The Beaver

The beaver is found all the way from Mexico to the Arctic and
from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland . However. the bea-
ver is mostly associated with the northern woods and their
waterways. where It is well known for its water engineer-
ing . Many different species of beaver co uld once be found
throughout the northern hemisphere. A Eurasian counterpart
remains in small populations. but it is the North American
beaver that has flourished and become one of the conti nent's
most successful mammals. It also played a critical role. as did
the sea otter on the west coast, in attracting the European
colonial gaze to the resources of North America.
The beaver is a rodent-the second-largest in the world. All
rodents are distinguished by their sharp incisor teeth, designed
to gnaw though bark, crack nuts, or attack any other edible
Reaching up to 32 kilograms and 1 metre long, the beaver i the
vegetable matter in a similarly efficient manner. The success of
largest rodent in orth America.
this strategy is attested to by the proliferation of rodents, which
make up nearly 40 per cent of all mammal species. The spe-
cialty of the beaver, of course, is its ability to fell trees (some other water-oriented organisms. such as waterfowl, otters.
as large as a metre in diameter), which can then be used as muskrats, and frogs and other amphibians. With an esti-
food and as building material for its familiar dams and lodges. mated population of more than 60 million prior to European
Trees, particularly hardwoods such as poplars, are felled close settlement in North America, their ecological impact on the
to the water's edge so that they can be dragged into the water, landscape would have been substantial. Although they were
which is the beaver's preferred medium. With their broad flat trapped out of large areas. they are now starting to recolonize
tails, sleek coats, and powerful webbed hind feet. beavers are as a result of conservation activities . Of course, this is good
well equipped for their aquatic construction activities. Their news; there are, however, unanticipated consequences .
dams impede the flow of water, giving them greater access to When beavers create their shallow ponds, they also create
trees, and the ponds created by the dams make them less vul- ideal habitat for vegetation decay and the subsequent release
nerable to terrestrial predators. They can use the ponds as a of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In fact, scientists have
low-energy way of transporting food to their lodges, which, calculated that as beaver populations have recovered since
surrounded by water, are virtually impregnable to predators. 1900 they have caused a 200-fold increase in methane emis-
Probably no other animal except humans has the ability to sions (Whitfield et al., 2014). With increasing populations into
cause such a radical and deliberate change to the environ- the future, beaver-generated methane could become a factor
ment, which is why beavers are sometimes termed system in global warming .
engineers: Beaver dams benefit not only beavers but also Who would have thought?

total number of species in an area and is also known as

species richness.
3- Ecosystem diversity is the variety of ecosystems in an Perspectives on the Environment
area. Some ecosystems are more vulnerable to human Genetic Diversity
interference than others. Estuaries and wetlands, for
Genetic diversity is nature's insurance policy. It increases
example, are highly productive but are often used for
biological productivity. assures ecological resilience
industry and agriculture. As these ecosystems are and creates options for future innovation. An outcome
replaced by human-controlled ecosystems, natural of enhanced genetic resources and adaptive poten-
diversity at the landscape level is reduced. tial means maintaining the full complement of genetic
diversity of all species in situ and ex situ (wild and domes-
Scientific knowledge of biodiversity is primitive._ Th~~e tic) as well as the full geographic distribution of species
may be up to 100 million species, although most scient~fic necessary to ensure adaptive potential.
estimates suggest between 5 million and 20 million, of which -Government of Canada (2014)

we have identified some 1.8 million (Figure 2.17). Some

The Ecosphere
0 f t:
is 1
at t
ill I

There are many amazi ng creatures in the ocean, such as this gold-spotted flatworm (left) and nudibranch (right), and many more to be di&cO\~rl'I!. So:
bacteria, and fungi. We also know relatively little about the al
56 per cent of these species are insects, 14 per cent are plants,
ocean (Chapter 8). Only about 15 per cent of described spe- ex
and just 3 per cent are vertebrates such as mammals, birds,
cies are from the oceans. Most biologists agree that there are At
and fish. Even new mammals are still being discovered, such
fewer species to be found there than on land. On the other Se
as the giant muntjac and the saola discovered on the borders
hand, there are 32 phyla in the oceans, compared with only tu
of Vietnam and Laos in the last 20 years. However, most spe-
cies awaiting discovery are probably tropical invertebrates, 12 on land. af
Number of living species known and estimated: World oJ
Known Estimated d
1,000 n
"C 0
::I 100
1 a
Protozoa Algae Higher plants Viruses Fungi Vertebrates Bacteria
Number of living species known and estimated: Canada (
1,000 Known Estimated

"OC 100

Insects Protozoa Al gae H.19 h er plants Viruses Fungi Vertebrates

FIGURE 2.17 Numbers of known and estimated living species in the world and inc d
Source B G b .d ( . . . .
room rt ge 1992. 17). Reprinted with k,nd permission of Springer Science and Business Media a.
CHAPTER TWO I Ener gy Flows and E cosystem s 73

S ecies identification is only the first building block in

bioLversity. We also need to understand the differences in
genetic diversity within species and how species interact in
ecosystems to really understand how the life-support system
P e rspectives on the Environment
of the planet works. Even at the species level our knowledge Biodiversity
is limited, but we do know that biodiversity is declining The survival, security, and well- being of Canadians dir-
at unprecedented rates as a result of human pressures and ectly depend upon the health, resilience, and productive
has been identified as the most stressed of all planetary capacity of natural systems. Beyond providing the neces-
systems. Extinction as an ecological process is considered sities of life, Canada's natural wealth is a cornerstone of
in more detail in the next chapter, and the main reasons the Canadian economy, the foundation for Canada's nat-
behind these declines and possible solutions are considered ural resource sectors, and the key to continued growth in
sectors such as agriculture, ecotourism, and recreation .
in Chapter 14.
Biodiversity also serves as the basis for the emerging bio -
based economy, including the genomics, biotechnology,
Biodiversity in Canada and pharmaceutical industries. Many Aboriginal com-
munities, particularly in the North, depend on the sus-
Biodiversity is not evenly distributed around the world. tainable harvesting of biological resources from intact
Some biomes, mainly tropical forests, are extremely diverse ecosystems for their livelihoods, food , and cultural and
(Box 2.9). In temperate latitudes there is much less divers- ceremonial needs. These communities also have inter-
ity. Overall, as discussed earlier, species numbers decline in ests and are involved in the commercial uses of biodivers-
a gradient from the tropics to the poles. Latin America, for ity and the emerging bio-based economy. Biodiversity is
example, is home to more than 85,000 plant species. North the foundation of the spiritual and cultural connection
America has 17,000, of which only 4,000 occur in Canada. that many Canadians have with nature.
Several reasons have been advanced to account for the lati- -Government of Canada (2014b: 10)
tudinal gradient in species richness, but the primary cause
appears to be the effect of solar radiation (i.e., temperature)
that increases evolutionary speed at lower latitudes. For this include the recent glaciation over most of the country, which
reason most biodiversity hot spots, areas with high numbers effectively wiped out localized species, and the wide-ranging
of endemic species, are found mainly in tropical forest areas. nature of many of our existing species. In terms of protecting
Estimates suggest that Canada has more than 1401000 biodiversity, it is especially important that endemic species
different species (Box 2.10), of which about half have been are given consideration.
named. The taxonomic groups containing the most numbers The Convention on Biological Diversity is a legally bind-
ofspecies are shown in Figure 2.18. Although the groups repre- ing international agreement that seeks a global response to
sented in this graph are not as well known as other groups,
such as birds and mammals, they undertake key functions
in ecosystems, often functions that we are only just becom-
ing aware of and that support the more familiar and larger
organisms. Beneficial insects, for example, fertilize flowers
and control pests; crustaceans provide food for fish; bacteria
recycle nutrients; and fungi are essential for bread, beer, and
penicillin. The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation
Council provides five-year assessments of the status of more
than 7,000 species in Canada (Chapter 14).
Another important element of biodiversity is the concept
of endemism. Endemic species are ones found nowhere
else on Earth. In Canada, we have relatively few endemic
species compared, for example, to southern Africa, where
some 80 per cent of the plants are endemic, or southwest
Australia, where 68 per cent are endemic. In Canada, there
are approximately 54 endemic species of vascular plants,
mammals, freshwater fish, and molluscs. Examples include
th e Vancouver Island marmot (Canada's only endangered
endemic mammal species), the Acadian whitefish, and 28 Mo t of the world's species are in eels, and many more await disco,ery.
species of plants in the Yukon. Reasons for our low endemism
74 PART 8 J The Ecospher e

BOX 2.9 I The Tropical Forests a'
Charles Darwin, who described the mechanisms of evolution 4. Tropical rain forests receive a minimum of 2,00o C
in On the Origin of Species (1859), originated most of his ideas metres of precipitation evenly distributed through 111 !l
while in the tropics . It was in the tropics-where life is sped .
year. Moisture 1s there f ore not a 11m1ting factor, allout >L~
up through high energy inputs and abundant moisture, where 0\'11
for continuous growth . Th ere 1s a strong corret , r.
adaptation is at its most complex and intricate, and where the between diversity and rainfall. atio,
struggle for survival is most dramatic-that evolution could s. Tropical rain forests are the most diverse ecosy
most readily be appreciated. Ster,
that have evolved on Earth . They are also cha :
The diversity of the tropical forests is astounding-esti - . f l .
1zed by examples o co-evo ut1on and mutuatis
mates suggest that at least half of the world 's species are which two species are absolutely co-dependent
0 nC,
within the 7 per cent of the globe's surface covered in tropical another. More than goo species of wasp, for exa '<
rain forest. For example: in 100 square metres in Costa Rica, have evolved to pollinate the same number of 11 '111):e
researchers found 233 tree species; one tree in Venezuela .
species; eac h wasp h as ad ap t ed t o Just . one specie g tr~,
was home to at least 47 different species of orchids; there are fig. Should anything destroy one species's food sups o,
978 different species of beetles that live on sloths; and more such a finely tuned system, then the co-dependent
than 1,750 different species of fish live in the Amazon basin. w1'[[ a[ so mee t t s d em1se.
. Spe.
In general, the rain forests of South America are the richest in
species, followed by Southeast Asia and then Africa. Several While the evolutionary process has benefited from rnost ei
factors account for this abundance. these characteristics, the soils in tropical areas have sufferec
They have been exposed to weathering processes for aVee
. . j
1. Tropical rain forests have been around for more than long t ime, with no renewal and remixing from glaciation.Tr,,
200 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs and warm temperatures and abundant moisture are perfect fc.
before the evolution of the flowering plants. It is thought chemical weathering to great depths, and most tropical soc;
that at that time there was just one gigantic landmass, have long since had their nutrients wash ed out. A fundame~-
before continental drift started to form the continents as tal difference between tropical and temperate ecosystems
we now know them . The vegetation of many areas was that in the tropics, unlike more temperate climes, mostofthe
subsequently wiped out by succeeding glacial periods, nutrients are stored in the biomass and not in the soils. Wher
which had minimal impact on the rain forests . Hence, tropical vegetation is removed-by logging, for example- th
evolutionary forces and speciation have had a long time removes most of the nutrients.
to operate in the tropics .
2. Over the long period of evolution, there is a kind of posi-
tive feedback loop. As more species have developed and
adapted, it has caused further adaptations as more spe-
cies seek to protect themselves from being eaten and also
to improve their harvesting of available food supplies. It is
thought, in particular, that plant diversity has been partly
the result of the need to adapt defences against the myr-
iad insects that graze on them. As the plants develop their
defences, insects adapt to the new challenge. The very high
biodiversity of these groups is due to the speed of these
evolutionary processes. In a system where most plants are
immune to most insects but highly susceptible to a few, it
pays to be a long way from a member of your own species .
Successful trees are hence widely distributed, which allows
more opportunity for speciation to occur.
3. The tropics receive a higher input of energy from the sun
than other areas of the globe. Not only are they closer
I fore-15 ha
to the sun, but they also have little or no winter. The pecie that evolved among the complexity of trop1ca ~Oaf
flux in solar input at the equator between the ~e~so~s developed many adaptations to prole t themst>h:s. Tht> ca;:;ator--
. t but at 50 degrees latitude, the variation is the leaf in eel pictured here give it some protection from p
1s 13 per cen ,
400 per cent.
CHAPTER Two I Ener gy Flows and E co ys tem s 75

the challenges of biodiversity degradation and implement using biodiversity. However, most of the 19 draft
program s to counter this trend and to use biodiversity sustain- targets are not sufficiently specific and key actions
bl and equitably. When the Convention was signed in 1 9 92 , for achieving the targets have not been developed.
a y
Canada offered to host t h e Secretanat
m Montreal, signifying
Without details on key actions that need to be taken,
Canada's strong support. Unfortunately, subsequent govern- it is not clear how Canada will meet its biodiversity
ments have been less supportive, and Canada has moved targets by 2020. (Office of the Auditor General of
from being a world leader in this field to being more com- Canada, 2013: 8)
monly seen as an obstruction to achieving greater progress.
Under the Convention, each country must produce a bio- As part of this process, in 2010 Canada produced the first
diversity strategy outlining the steps it will take to reverse assessment of biodiversity from an ecosystem perspective.
declines in biodiversity. At the Nagoya Conference of the Although there were some positive trends-for example,
Parties to the Convention in 2012, each signatory nation com- the amount of land in protected areas (see Chapter 14) has
mitted to meeting several goals and targets (known as the increased and populations of some marine mammals appear
Aichi Targets), and were tasked with setting national targets to be improving-the overall findings are not encouraging. In
and action that would meet these goals by 2020 (Table 2.1). particular the report suggested action is urgently needed to
The table is useful as it has implications for many subsequent address key findings:
chapters in this book related to agriculture, forestry, and pro-
tected areas, for example, and the targets for protected areas These findings include loss of old forests, changes
are considered in more detail in Chapter 14. in river flows at critical times of the year, loss of
The Office of the Auditor General has undertaken sev- wildlife habitat in agricultural landscapes, declines
eral audits of Canada's progress on biodiversity protection in certain bird populations, increases in wildfire,
and concluded: and significant shifts in marine, freshwater, and
terrestrial food webs. Some contaminants recently
Environment Canada has been leading the develop- detected in the environment are known to be
ment of Canada's 2020 goals and targets under the increasing in wildlife. Plant communities and ani-
Convention, resulting in four draft goals and 19 mal populations are responding to climate change.
related draft targets covering a range of important Temperature increases, shifting seasons, and chan-
topics, from creating protected areas to sustainably ges in precipitation, ice cover, snowpack, and frozen

60,000 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ,
Known New






Bryozoa Rindworms Spiders Fishes

FIGURE 2 _18 I Groups with the most species in Canada (excluding viruses).
Source Mosqu,n et al. (1995 S~~B~J _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ _ _ _ _ _ __
PART B I The Ecospbere


nesting habitat for many species unu_s ual for Canada, Par.
BOX 2.10 I Carolinian Canada
ticularly warblers . Of the 360 bird species seen, about 90 st
. d e of land stretching frorn to nest, and in sp<ing th"' may be 25 to 30 diffe<ent w
9 g
Carolinian Canada 15 the we t f the ble,s spotted on a good day. ln the fall, the bi<ds ace joineo'~
Toronto west to Windsor that contains 25 ~er ce n h~ h st a
country's human population. It also contains t~e- ig e thousands of monarch butterflies . . pause here bef oreY
as they
number of tree species in the coun try, as the rn1 x1ng zone heading south on their 3,600-k1lometre Journey to the Gulf 0
between the eastem deciduous rocests to the south and . f h . f
Mexico or t e winter.
mixed coniferous-deciduous forests to the north. Its loc_at'.on Point Pelee is a national park . Most of the rest of th
Carolinian forest is not so well protected and is heav.e

in the southernmost part of the country, with the rned1at1n_g
effects on climate of the southern Great Lakes, allows sern1- ily fragmented by agriculture and urban development. It is
tropical tree species such as the cucumber and sassafras to estimated that close to 40 per cent of Canada's rare thr eat-
spread up into this land of ice and snow. After Vancouver and
ened, and endangered species are primarily Carolinian. Th
Victoria, Windsor ranks as the third-warrnest city in Canada,
Carolinian Canada Program, started in 1984, has coord1n-e
and it is the most humid city in the country. It is little wonder
ated the efforts of government agencies and private land-
that in summer the humidity and lush vegetation can give the
owners to try to protect the remaining forest. About half of
appearance of a much more southern location.
Besides the distinctive vegetation, the Carolinian zone also the 38 targeted sites have some degree of protection b
supports a noteworthy bird population. Point Pelee is one of biologists still wor<Y t hat these fragments are too smati , :
the top birding spots in North America. Not only do migrating isolated to be capable of protecting this most diverse area
birds (exhausted from crossing Lake Erie northward in spring) of Canada .
rest here, but it is also part of the Carolinian forest and the



... .
. t


Unite,d States

FIGURE 2 1 9 I Carolinian
.. Canada.
CHAPTER TWO I Energy F lows and Ecosystem s 77

ground are interacting to alter ecosystems, some- expected to trigger declines in ice-associated species
times in unpredictable ways. such as polar bears. Nutrient loading is on the rise in
Some key findings identify ecosystems in which over 20 per cent of the water bodies sampled, includ-
natural processes are compromised or increased ing some of the Great Lakes where, 2 0 years ago,
stresses are reaching critical thresholds. Examples regulations successfully reduced nutrient inputs.
include: fish populations that have not recovered This time, causes are more complex and solutions
despite the removal of fishing pressure; declines will likely be more difficult. Lakes affected by acid
in the area and condition of grasslands, where deposition have been slow to recover, even when
grassland bird populations are dropping sharply; acidifying air emissions have been reduced. Invasive
and fragmented forests that place forest-dwelling non-native species have reached critical levels in the
caribou at risk. The dramatic loss of sea ice in the Great Lakes and elsewhere. (Federal, Provincial, and
Arctic has many current ecosystem impacts and is Territorial Governments of Canada, 2010: 1)

Biodiversitl_~ ;als and Targets for Canada

~ ,fa-

Goal A. By 2020, Canada's lands and waters are planned and managed using an ecosystem approach to support biodiversity
conservation outcomes at local, regional and national scales.
1. By 2020, at least 17% of terres trial areas an d inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of
protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.
2. By 2020, species that are secure remain secure, and population of species at risk listed under federal law exhibit trends that are
consisten t with recovery strategies and management plans .
3. By 2020, Canada's wetlands are conserved or en hanced to sustain their ecosystem services through retention, restoration and
management activities.
4. By 2020, biodiversity considerations are integrated into municipal planning and activities of major municipalities across Canada .
5. By 2020, the ability o f Canadian ecolog ical systems to adapt to climate change is better understood, and priority adaptation
measures are underway.
Goal B. By 2020, direct and indirect pressures as well as cumulative effects on biodiversity are reduced, and production and
consumption of Canada's biological resources are more sustainable.
6. By 2020, continued progress is made on the sustainable management of Canada's forests.
7. By 2020, agricultural working landscapes provide a stable or improved level of biod iversity and habitat capacity.
8. By 2020, all aquaculture in Canada is managed under a science-based regime that promotes the sustainable use of aquatic
resources (i ncluding marine, freshwater and land based) in ways that conserve biodiversity.
9. By 2020, all fis h and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem-
based approaches.
10. By 2020, pollution levels in Canadian waters, including pollution from excess nutrients, are reduced or maintained at levels that
support healthy aquatic ecosystems .
11. By 2020, pathways of invasive alien species introductions are identified, and risk-based intervention or management plans are in
place for priority pathways and species.
12. By 2020, customary use by Aboriginal peoples of biological resources is maintained, compatible with their conservation and
sustaina ble use.
13. By 2020, innovative mechanisms for fostering the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied .
Goal C. By 2020, Canadians have adequate and relevant information about biodiversity and ecosystem services to support
conservation planning and decision-making.
14. By 2020, the science base for biodiversity is enhanced and knowledge of biodiversity is better integrated and more accessible.
15. By 2020, Aboriginal traditional knowledge is respected, promoted and, where made av~il_able by ~boriginal peoples. regularly,
meaningfully and effectively informing biodiversity conservation and management dec1s1on-makmg.
16. By 2020, Canada has a comprehensive inventory of protected spaces that includes private conservation areas.
17. By 2020, measures of natural capital related to biodiversity and ecosystem services are developed on a national scale, and progress
is made in integrating them into Canada's national statistical system.
Goal D. By 2020, Canadians are informed about the value of nature and more actively engaged in Its stewardship.
18 BY 2020, b1od1vers1ty s integrated mto
the e lemen tary and secondary school curncula.
19. By 2020, more Canadians get out into nature and participate In biodiversity conservation activities.

Source Government o f Canada (2014b 91)

78 PART B I Thr E r ohphrrr

information monitoring s:rstem, Canada will be Una

ond to questions relatmg to ecosystem health hie t
re Sp . . . , spec' v
risk invasive species, and changes m species dist 'b les,t
and ' abundance as they are a fiecte d by environmental
ges such as climate change. Unfortunately, rather tha chan.
ify this situation, the federal governme~t has responde~ re_q.
increasingly severe budget cuts to Environment C \I/1th
reported by the Auditor General (2013), such that th a, as
. l l
ment believes that 1t can no onger ead the next . tt.
e dep
. h Oat1o
Ecosystem Status an d Tren ds report, wh1c was due . llaJ
. . 'd lO io
Canada is obviously expenencmg cons1 erable chal! 15,
. I bl' .
meeting its internat10na o 1gat10ns to counter biod' iu
decline. ,

The above discussion points to important implicatio
. d' 'b .
society and speoes 1stn ut10ns:
ns for

All of the Earth's inhabitants are interlocked in en .

a ncou ve r I land marmot is Canada's only end angered endemic
ma mmal pecies.
mental systems that depend on one another for survival
Perturbations in part of the system have impacts on oth
parts of the system.
The report notes that biodiversity and ecosystem mon- The basic scientific laws that govern the transformation
itoring is deficient in Canada, and that "relevant ecosystem- of matter and energy dictate that, sooner or later, society
level information is less available than decision-makers may must transform itself from a throwaway society built on
realise" (Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments of processing ever-increasing matter and energy flows to
Canada, 2010). Others feel that decision-makers are very happy one in which energy efficiencies are improved and matter
that there is such little information available, as it reduces the flows are reduced.
pressure on them to respond to the detrimental changes that A species may have a wide range of tolerance to some fac-
are taking place. This lack of adequate biodiversity monitor- tors but a very narrow range for others.
ing is also highlighted in an independent and comprehen- Species with the largest ranges of tolerance for all factors
sive assessment of the state of biodiversity information in tend to be the most widely distributed. Cockroaches and
Canada (Hyde et al., 2010). Without an effective biodiversity rats, for example, enjoy virtually global distribution.

~ I~ - , r---
BOX 2 .11 I What You Can Do: Learning about Your Local Ecosystems
This chapter has laid a foundatio n o f enviro nmental under- 4. Be relentless in your search for government informat'10n.
standing of how ecosystems work in terms of energy flow and The government has some very competent envi
organization. In that context, there are th ings that individuals mental scientists {although much fewer than previousM
can do: . . . to produce
an d 1s required by international conventions
. re not as
various reports . In many cases, these reports a
1. Learn about the ecosystems an d species in your own complimentary to government programs as e_~ th
area and the factors that influence their distribution and ernment m ight w ish, and they are not widely availal)le.
abundance. Search them out, and be critica l.
2. Understand the main biodiversity challenges in your area . s. Search for and rev iew reports from other stakeh
3. Determine how you can get engaged with resolving perspectives, such as NGOs. foundations, and
these challenges. private sector.
CHAPTER TWO I Ene r gy Flow and E cosystem 79

Many weed and pest species are successful because of the systematic nature of the process as well as the implications
their large range of tolerance. Eurasian water milfoil, for ecological processes overall as genetic, species, and land-
a significant nuisance in many waterways in Canada, scape impoverishment occurs at ever-increasing rates. Such
is an alien that can grow in conditions from Canada is the concern over biodiversity loss that an international
to Bangladesh. treaty, the Convention on Biological Diversity, is attempt-
Response to growth factors is not independent. Grass, for ing to mobilize global responses to the problem. However,
example, is much more susceptible to drought when nitro- international progress, as well as that by the government of
gen intake is low. Canada on biodiversity protection, has been slow.
Tolerance for different factors may vary through the life From this discussion, it should be apparent that ecosystems
cycle. Critical phases often occur when organisms are are complicated. A complex set of interrelationships exists
juveniles and during the time of reproduction. among organisms and between organisms and their environ-
, Some species can adapt to gradually changing conditions ment. A change in part of this matrix will often result in cor-
for some factors, up to a point. However, after this thresh- responding changes throughout. Humans are now such a
old of change is reached, the population will collapse. dominant influence on global environmental conditions at
all scales that significant changes are underway as a result of
The loss of biodiversity also has enormous implications, as human activities. There is considerable uncertainty as to how
discussed further in Chapter 14. Before the rise of biodivers- ecosystems and the entire life-support system of this planet
ity as a concept, the human-induced extinctions of species will react to these changes. Yet even under natural condi-
were normally viewed as tragic, isolated events. However, bio- tions, ecosystems are not static. The next chapter will focus
diversity has helped us reframe the problem and acknowledge on how ecosystems change over time.

1. Energy is the capacity to do work . Energy comes in many and abiotic components. It can be further subdivided
form s, including radiant energy (from the sun), chemical into communities, ecosystems, and biomes.
energy (stored in chemical bonds of molecules), and heat,
6. The concepts of limiting factors and range of tolerance
mechanical, and electrical energy. Energy differs from
help us to understand the interaction between the biotic
matter in that it has no mass and does not occupy space .
and abiotic components of the ecosphere.
2. Understanding energy flows is critical to an understand-
7. Each species needs a specific combination of physical,
ing of the ecosphere and environmental problems . The
chemical, and biological conditions for its growth. This is
laws of thermodynamics explain how energy moves
the niche of that species.
through systems. The first law states that energy can be
neither created nor destroyed but merely changed from 8. The principle of competitive exclusion tells us that no
one form to another. The second law informs us that at two species can occupy the same niche in the same area
each energy transformation, some energy is converted at the same time .
to a lower-quality, less useful form .
9. Species compete for scarce resources in any given habi-
3. Energy is the basis for all life. Through the process of tat. However, there are many other forms of relationship
photosynthesis, certain organisms transform carbon between species, such as predation, parasitism, mutual-
dioxide and nutrients in the presence of radiant energy ism, and commensalism.
from the sun into organic matter. This matter forms 10. Species with a strong influence on the entire community
the basis of the food chains by which energy is passed are known as keystone species.
from trophic level to trophic level. At each transference.
the second law of thermodynamics dictates that some 11. Biodiversity involves the variety of life at three different
energy is lost, typically as much as go per cent. scales: genetic, species, and landscape. Estimates sug-
gest that Canada has more than 140,000 species, of
4 Productivity is a measure of the abilities of different com- which about half have been named.
munities to transform energy into biomass. The most
12. The progress of the government of Canada in imple-
productive communities are found in estuaries, wetlands,
menting its biodiversity strategy has been very slow and
and rain forests . it 1s highly unlikely that Canada will meet the 2020 legally
5 The ecosphere is the thin, life-supporting layer of the binding obligations under the international Convention
Earth characterized by interactions between the biotic on Biological Diversity.
PART B I The Ecosphere
----~- -
- - l(ey Terms - .
abiotic compone nts
epi phytes
-- -
o ptimal foraging theory
aerobic optimum range
Aichi targets organism
euphotic zone
anaerobic parasitism
apex predators parent material
food chain
assimilated food energy photosynthesis
food webs
autotrophs phototrophs
functional co mpensation
biodiversity functional connectivity phytoplan kton
biodiversity hotspots generalist species population
biomass genetic diversity potential energy
biomass pyramid glaciation predator
biomes grazing food chains prey
biotic components gross primary productivity (GPP) primary con sumers
bottom-up control habitat producers
calorie heat radiant energy
carnivores herbivores range of tolerance
cellular respiration heterotrophs resource partitioning
chemoautotrophs high-quality energy secondary consumers
chlorophylls humus soil horizons
commensalism interspecific competition soil permeability
community intraspecific competition soil profile
competitive exclusion principle keystone species specialist
consumers kinetic energy species diversity
Convention on Biological Diversity landscape connectivity structural connectivity
decomposer food chain landscape ecology territory
detritus law of conservation of energy tertiary consumers
dominant limiting factor law of entropy theory
ecological redundancy limiting factor threshold
ecosystem loams top-down control
ecosystem diversity low-quality energy trophic cascade
endemic species mutualism
trophic level
endemism net community productivity (NCP) zone of physiolog ical stress
energy net primary productivity (NPP) zooplankton
energy efficiency niche

ain biotic and abiotic components of to en'

What are t h e m 3. How do the laws of thermodyna mics apply
ecosystems? mental management?
How do the laws of thermodynamics apply to living 4. w dotheiP'
2. hat are chemoautotrophs, and w hat role
organisms? ecosystem dynamics?
CHAPTER TWO I Ener gy Flows and E co y tern 81

on what trophic level is a pitcher plant? Why? Are there 11. Draw a cross- section across (E- W) and down (N-S) your
plants on the same trophic level in your area? What are province or territory, and show th e main environmental
they, and where do they grow? gradients and the vegetational respon se.

6. In what kinds of ecosystems do detritus food chains 12. What are some of the main transformations that have to
dominate? take place in society to reflect the implication s of the laws
of thermodynamic s and law of conservatio n of matter?
7. What roles do phytoplankton play in maintaining eco-
spheri c processes? 13. How does genetic diversity help to protect a species
from extinction?
s. What are the m anagement implications of recognizing
concepts su ch as specialist, generalist, and keystone 14. What is endemism. and why does Can ada have relatively
species? Can yo u think of any examples in your area? few endemic species?

9. What is optimal fora ging theory? 15. What progress is Canada making o n implementing its
biodiversity strategy?
10. What do you think th e dominant lim iting factors are for
plant comm unities in your area?

. -
Related Websites -~ -.:::::::_ . Convention on Biological Diversity: Canada

www.biodivcanada .ca www.cbd .int/countries/7country =ca

- .

Further Readings -~ .

Note: This list comprises works relevant to the subject of the

-...;::::::: --
Kreb s, C. J., et al. 2003. "Terrestrial t rophic dy namics in the Canadian
chapter but not cited in the text. All cited works are listed in Arctic." Canadian Journal of Zoo logy 81: 827-43.
the References at the end of the book. Mills, E.L., et al. 2003. "Lake O ntari o: Food web dynamics in a
changing eco system (19 7 0 -200 0 )," Canadian Journal of Fisheries
and Aquatic Sciences 60 : 4 7 1- 9 0.
Hocking. M.D.. and J.D. Reynolds. 2011 . "Impacts of salmon on
Pr:davec, M., C.J . Kreb s. K. Dannell, and R.J. Hyndman . 2001.
npanan plant diversity." Science 331: 1609-12.
Hodges.KE .. and A.R.E. Sinclair. 2003 . "Does predation risk cause Cycles an_d sy~chrony in th e collared lemming (Dicrostonyx
snowshoe hares to modify their diets?" Canadian Journal of groenland1cus) 1n Arcti c North Am erica." Oecologia 126: 216-24.
Zoology 81 . 19 73 _8 5 .

m Go to www.oupcanada .com/DeardenMitchellse to access additional learning tools on yo ur smar t phone, t a bl et. or PC .


Ecosystems Are Dynamic

Learning Objectives
To understand the nature of ecosystem change and its To explore the impact and manageme nt of invasivespe
implications for society and environme ntal management To recogni ze the main fa c tors affecting species pop~;
To understand the process of prim ary and secondary tion growth
succession and the ways in w hich humans alter these To appreciate the nature of evolution and extinction
processes To appreciate some of th e implicati ons of global clim1i
To appreciate the role of disturbance such as fi res. insect change on species distributions and abu ndance
infestations, and major sto rms as ofte n being an integral
and natural part of healthy ecosystem fun ction

Communities and ecosystems change over time. The rate of
to th e type, distribution and availability of food resou~
change depends on the factors driving change, the response . ' ~
or th e potential for predation. Some changes are very c,
of individual species, how species interact with one another, such a s th ose caused by a forest fire . Ot hers, 5uch asti0-
and how they respond collectively and individually to their
mate change under natural conditions occur over Jong
abiotic environment from an ecosystem perspective. Part of . d ' he o,
pen_o s and allow communities to adjust slowly to I ci:
the response of the species ma~ing up these systems, in the
e_nvironment. Unfortunately, the speed of change nowo 1
case of Plan ts , is related to. their range
. of tolerance to such
nng as a result 0 f . c ter than
r1actors a s the amount of light, nutrients, and soil type , dis- . greenhouse gas emissions 1s ras bl
previously e 11 be una
. Chapter 2 . For animals, the response may be related xpenenced, and many species Wl ,
cusse d 1n adapt at this sp d . hange,
ee As vegetation commu nit1es c

CHAPTER THREE I Ecosystem Are Dynamic 83

the heterotrophic components dependent on plants for food. basic types, with some additional variants. Primary succes-
Similarly, if the components of the food web change, it may sion is the colonization of a previously unvegetated surface,
well cause a change in vegetation. such as when a glacier retreats or a landslide removes all
In this chapter, we examine aspects of change in eco- traces of the vegetation of the previous ecosystem (Figure 3.1).
systems, starting with the process of ecological succession, Little or no soil exists, and the first species to occupy the area,
and then discuss the concept of ecosystem function and its known as primary colonizers, must be able to withstand high
dynamic characteristics. Next we examine the role of a spe- variability in temperatures and water availability and highly
cies' population growth and how and why it varies. Last, we limited nutrients. Few species can tolerate such conditions.
look at the role of longer-term change in the processes of Lichens are typically the first colonizers because they can
evolution and extinction and their effects on biodiversity establish on bare rock surfaces that are virtually devoid of
and ecosystem function. The impact of humans on these pro- nutrients and can hold water (Box 3.1). Over time, lichens,
cesses is often to alter their natural function relative to a time in combination with other physical and chemical processes,
when humans were far less populous on Earth. break down rocks. Their biomass traps water and nutrients.
Over centuries, their accumulating biomass and alteration of
the environment make it possible for other species to colonize;
Ecological Succession mosses most often follow. Mosses grow faster than lichens,
Ecological succession is a relatively slow process. It involves resulting in yet greater accumulation of biomass and the
the gradual replacement of one assemblage of species by beginnings of soil. The lichens are eventually out-competed
another as environmental conditions change over time. Some by the faster-growing mosses.
of these changes are created by the species themselves, and The next stage in successional advance is typically inva-
others occur more indirectly. We divide succession into two sion by herbaceous plants such as grasses and species that we

~ E 3.1 A general model of primary succession over time, from a bare rock surface to a forest community.
84 Part B / The Ecosphere
ften think of as "weeds." Most of these species are annuals
0 "d Ot
biannuals. Such species are able to col_omze a_ wi e range of
habitats and have reproductive strategies to disperse Wide!
Dandelions and fireweed are good examples. While so:
plant species physically disperse into the habitat patch, othe e
. d rs
are already present in the form of seeds 1ymg ormant in th
. e
soil, sometimes for decades! These see d s germinate whe
environmental conditions, such as the availa?i~ ~ty of ligh:
become favourable for growth. The seeds that he in wait" are
~ said be part of the soil seed bank.
;: Over time, these early herbaceous species create an environ.
ment conducive for the next successional stage to establish
r which includes hardy shrubs and light-tolerant trees that i~
Only J0.000 years ago, '
nost of Canada was covered in a thick layer
. k y k . turn further ameliorate conditions until shade-tolerant tree
1 Ka ka11u
of .,ce. Tie , I h Glacier in Kluane Nal10nal Par , u on, IS a species become established. Examples of light-tolerant ("sun.
remnant of this Lime. loving") trees are birch, oak, and trembling aspen. Species

BOX 3.1 I Lichens

Some environments have such challenging growing condi- food supply for British Columbia's mountain caribou, a spe-
tions that virtually nothing can survive. However, lichens cies precariously on the brink of extinction.
are one of the few types of organism that can be found in Besides providing an essential food supply for caribou
such places. Lichens are partnerships, part of an evolutio nary lichens have also been used by humans as flour (when dried
mutualistic relationship between fungi and photosynthetic and grou nd up) and as a dye for wool and other fabrics. They
algae such that each benefits from the presence of the other are now fi nding other uses as well. Lichens, because of their
(Box 2.1). The fungi are able to cling to rocks or trees with adaptive ability to absorb mineral requirements directly from
their filaments and to retain water. In turn, the algae produce the air, are very efficient accumulators of pollution. Unlike
food for both groups of species through photosynthesis. This many other plant species, they concentrate pollutants to
may include the fixing of nitrogen from the atmosphere by exceed their own tolerance levels and hence are excellent
cyanobacteria, as discussed in the next chapter. This com- indicator species for air pollution, since they will be absent
bination is able to survive intense cold and drought and has from heavily po lluted areas. Wong and Broda (1992) docu
been evolving for more than a billion years, making lichens
mented that o f 465 species of lichen in Ontario, with 52
one of the most primitive of living organisms. Individual
believed to be reg ionally extinct owing to pollution.
lichens may be more than 4,000 years old. Over centuries,
$Uffldent growth of lichens may occur so that the thinnest of
~ ls produced, allowing other species able to tolerate harsh
i\1ons to colonize Lichens are therefore very important
CHAPTER THREE I Eco y tem s Are Dynamic 85


;,,.,;...-.:i,_.;...:;;.__ _..... .
The term "treeline" is used to describe areas where vegetation
communities dominated by trees give way to tho e dominated by other
type of vegetation, such as herbs and gras es. Rarely, however, i there
Fire, eed, een here growing in Yukon. a common herb in early a sharp line; rather, there is usually an ecotone, where patches of both
ucce sional site throughout Canada. tree- and grass-dominated communities exist together.

that can establish in the shade include western hemlock and Succession is not an inevitable linear progression. It is
western red cedar, which we typically find in old-growth a guideline to help understand the changes that may take
forests . In areas where precipitation and temperature are place in ecological communities. In some instances-in
adequate, trees typically dominate the final stage of this suc- recently glaciated terrain, for example-very hardy species
cessional process, with fewer species in the understorey. Each of trees, such as willows and alders, may become established
stage along the way is known as a seral stage. in favoure d sites with little previous colonization having
In the first half of the twentieth century, it was believed that occurred. Cyclic succession may also occur where a com-
vegetation would ultimately reach a well-defined, stable stage munity progresses through several seral stages but is then
known as the climax community and that this final suc- returned to earlier stages by natural phenomena such as fire
cessional stage was in equilibriu m with the environment. (Box 3.2) or intense insect attack. The different seral stages
However, equilibrium conditions are rare and disturbances are not discrete but may blend from one into another. These
(such as fires, insect infestations, floods, ice storms) are so blending zones tend to be the areas with the highest species
common that most ecological systems never reach a stable cli- diversity, since they contain species from more than one com-
max stage. Disturbances are relatively discrete events in time munity. They are known as ecotones and occur as relatively
and space (such as floods) that alter the structure and function richer zones between communities.
of populations, communities, and ecosystems. Many agents Sand dune succession is another common form of primary
of disturbance are natural and integral parts of the healthy succession in which the primary colonizers are not lichens
functioning of ecosystems. This is contrary to our intuitive but grasses that have the ability to withstand not only the
sense that phenomena such as fires, floods, and windstorms high variability in temperature and water but also the con-
are harmful to ecosystem health. tinuously shifting sand. The grasses help to stabilize the
An example of a maj or disturbance currently unfolding is sand until mat-forming shrubs invade. Later, conditions may
the mountain pine beetle invasion affecting more than 18 mil- become suitable for hardy trees such as pines that may in turn
lion hectares of forest in British Columbia and Alberta; this be replaced by other tree species such as oaks.
invasion is now poised to move further east across Canada. Climax is a relative rather than an absolute stage.
Tae beetles have killed and are killing millions of trees and Communities do not change up to the climax and then cease
are preventing these forests from achieving or main- to change. However, the nature of the species assemblage is
a state of climax. As such, they are "setting back the more constant over time once a mature community is estab-
nal clock" to an environment represented by early lished. Even in mature communities, future changes in patho-
onal states. The pattern of recovery following this gens, predation, and climate will generate ongoing changes.
nee will depend on the features of the species them- The climax vegetation for most areas is strongly influenced
the nature of interactions among species, and many by the prevailing climate and is therefore known as a climatic
table factors. Thus, ecosystems and landscapes are climax, but even the climate changes. Scientists are detecting
c, interacting in complex ways, often unpredictable, a northern extension of the tree line in the Arctic as a result
large space-time scales. of global climate change and warming temperatures. In the
86 Part B I The Ero phere

BOX 3 .2 I Fire Management and Ecosystem Change th

. t d these ecosystems w1 an
In many areas, fire is a natural occurrence that has a profound that species. lnS ea ' . ted by species such
. be domrna
impact on plant and animal communities . In so m e com- regime may fre-suppression results in the
munities, it may be the dominant age nt of disturbance, and if as pen. Furthebr, . I uch as dead trees. If and whe
suppressed by human interference, those com munities may of organic de ns s t
. . 11 h lp fuel a fire such that the ire
change significantly in species compositio n. Fire has bee n this debris w1 e f"
the canopy. Often, these ires.
used as a tool to manipulate ecosystems to produce desired the forest floor t 0
effects, such as removing forests to facilitate agricu lture, and sprea d over Suc h a large area that they ca
burning grasslands to generate new grass growth, and herd- trolled . Managers of protected areas such as pa
in g animals so that th ey can be more readily hunted. Fire is that if fire is a natural part of an e~osystem, fir:
used in forest management: hazard reduction for silviculture, policies are altering the ecosystem in ~nnatural
insect and disease control, wildlife habitat en hancement, an d led to prescribed burning programs in many pa
range burning . Banff National Park (Chapter 14). A decision on
Fire ha s several important ecological and social implications: not fire should be suppressed should reflect kno
ecosystem's natural fire regime. The regime incl
It favou rs the growth of certain spec ies over others. Some such as the frequency, intensity, and size of this
species are fire-resistant (such as the Douglas fi r), w hile turbance. Such knowledge enables managers
the heat from fire may aid in the germination of oth er regime, thus maintaining the natural state of the
species . For example, lodgepole pine seeds can only be Some fires may be ecologically appropriate. 0th
released from their cones when sufficiently high te mper- from human carelessness or lack of ecological
atures melt the resin that once held the cone tigh tly shut. ing. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the poten
The phenomenon is termed serotiny. Fire may res ult in the tive effects of fires on human livelihoods.
death of other species.
Global warming (see Chapter 7) will result in
At moderate levels of intensity and frequency, it tends
and intense fires . The burning of millions oft
to increase the diversity of spec ies in a comm unity. Fire
is biologically fixed in the biomass of the ~
releases nutrients from the biomass into the soi l and
bon dioxide, further exacerbating the buildu~
atmosphere; some may be lost from the site, w hile the
gases in the atmosphere. This is an exa
remainder help to stimulate growth of some spec ies- for
example, the pine seedlings mentioned above. feedback loop. The hotter it gets, the drie
It stimulates the growth of various grasses and herb s th at fires we have, the more carbon dioxide is
provide fodder for herbivores, which may in turn increase warme_r it gets. Scientists predict that temp
carnivore populations. ated with global warming will be in the ord
Soil temperatures are increased not only during th e fire 40 years for the boreal forest biome. They
rainfalls This w 1
u I d
but also afterwards-the site ha s a lower albedo and is ea to greater drying o f.
more open to the sun. This also influences chem ica l and
biological properties of th e so il, stimu lating microbial
activities and enhancing decomposition.
Highly intense or very frequent fires may cause sufficient
nutrient impoverishment of a site to preclude further
growth of trees, and the vegetation may become domin -
ated by grasses and low shru bs. Many of the heathlands of
Northern Europe were created in this manner, and clea r-
cutting and fire in nutrient-poor black spruce forests in
Canada can have the same effect.

Early concepts of forestry and conservation encouraged

policies of total fire suppression, with little attention given
to the role of fire in various ecosystems. This mindset led to
unanticipated changes in some ecosyste ms. For example, in
the absence of fires, as a result of fire suppression, lod ge-
pole pine seeds cannot grow (as explained above) and thus
establish what otherwise would be a forest domina ted by
CHAPTER THREE I Ecosy terns re Dynamic 87

and. again, increased frequency and area of fire. Overall, for- such as woodland caribou. will be put under increasing pres-
est ecosystems will show a high degree of disturbance not sure. Caribou are highly dependent on the forest for lichens.
typical of that which they experience as part of their natural which form the major part of their winter diet and grow only
fire regime. Species dependent on old-growth ecosystems. in forests more than 150 years old.

How Will Forests Respond to Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide?

Ze 'ev Gedalof and Aaron Berg
As humans. we tend to think about global environmental extremely high costs o f FACE technology has meant that most
change in terms o f temperature and precipitation. or the of the 35 studies undertaken to date have focused on agricul-
frequency of hurricanes. or the persistence of drought. For turally important species. and only three have studied unman-
plants. though, global environmental change includes the very aged forests. Furthermore. the FACE studies have been brief
compositio n of the atmosphere. Changing levels of ground- and, like virtually all CO2 enrichment studies. have applied an
level ozone (03 ). carbon dioxide (CO2). and reactive nitrogen abrupt change in CO 2 levels rather than the gradual increase
(nitrogen com pounds t hat support growth) have the potential that has occurred over the past 150 years (Klironomos et al..
to affect all aspects of plant growth-from growth rates. to 2005). Because many tree growth processes occur over years
distributions. to reproductive success. Given the huge num- and decades-including foliage retention in evergreen spe-
ber of variables involved and the uncertainty regarding future cies, root versus shoot growth, reproduction cycles. and
greenhouse gas emissio ns and climate projections. the task of carbohydrate storage-trees could respond differently to
predicting these effect s is extremely challenging. By neces- abrupt increases in CO2 than to gradual increases.
sity. most scientists focus on only one or two variables at a
time and study short-lived organisms growing in controlled
environments. Understanding the effects of increasing CO2
1s especially important. as it is the most rapidly accumulat-
ing greenhouse gas and is involved directly in photosynthesis.
Specifically, increasing CO 2 should increase the growth rates
of trees due to two possibly complementary processes: First.
direct CO 2 fertilization may o ccur because higher partial pres-
sure of CO 2 increases the rate of CO 2 reactions with rubisco (a
plant enzyme) during photosynthesis. t hus inhibiting photore-
spirat1on Second. increasing water- use efficiency may occur
due to reduced stomata! conductance (the rate of passage of
carbon dioxide entering or water vapo ur exit ing through the
stomata of a leaf). leading to greater drought tolerance.
Scientists have developed many tools for studying the
effects of elevated CO 2 on plant growth . While much has
been learned from these studies, the inferences that can be
made about forests are lim ited For example, w hile closed
growth chambers allow fo r a high degree o f contro l over
environmental conditions. they can be used to study only
small plants and seedlings, and there are typically few 1nter-
speotic interactions. damaging agents. or climatic variations FIGURE 3.2 I A ty pical core sample from a conifer
ed rn experiments. Open-top cham bers allow for more speci es. The black lines show annual ring boundaries,
al conditions to be simulated. but are similarly restricted and the light blue li nes show subseasonal anatomical
studying small organisms. More recently, the development diffe rences. There is a sm all crack in the core in the
-the Free Air CO 2 Enrichment (FACE) sites has allowed large,
m iddle of th e 1969 gro w th ring.
al ecosystems to be studied by providing a slow con-
Source Courtesy zeev Gedalof and Aaron Berg (2010).
us supply of CO2 from the upwind side o f the site. The
The Eco. P
.. :. .. ... :. :......
........... .. .... ...
. : : ....
western a:
part S
t :.. . . ..: ...
low, with1
Smith et
such char

... ~ . .. ...
i. . . .
.. . .

. r-=-e. ' .:, 1 .... I r : ....
s. ::
::1::= .

:. ::
begin to 1
earlier se
t1'1f:(=1===:=-:i: : ~ main foo

iir a=: 1
1H-s11=1 successic
u~ health of
In son
be more

0 - 20%
. --

ity comf
> 20%-40%

: In adc
0 >40%-60%
0 > 60% - 80% ,! occur o:
fields o
sion. Tl:
not rep1
. f sites (rounded to the nearest sal chai
. sites and the proportion o
URE 3 3 I The global distribution of the tree- ring ~ata . wth over the twentieth century. commu
:~~ree of ;atitude by longitude), showing unexplained increases in gro commt
Source. Adapted from Gedalof and Berg /2010) . to becc
other to show increasi ng gro wth ra t es. Wha: th is im plies is
An alternative to these experimental approaches is to use that whi le CO 2 fe rtili zation is clearly a locally im porta nt phe- atelyt1
natural history methods to examine how trees have responded manag
no menon, ba sed on th e CO 2 in c reases observed over the
to the observed increases in atmospheric CO2 over the past that m
past ce ntury it is not un ive rsal.
century (Gedalof and Berg, 2010). In most temperate regio ns
Thi s finding is important because it shows that forests can- ical h~
of the globe, trees produce annual growth rings that ca n be
used to reconstruct the history of growth rates over the life- not be reli ed on to acce lerat e the ir growth in resp onse to and 1C
time of the tree {Figure 3.2). While many factors contribute rising atmospheric CO2 and th e re by slow down the rate of Sim
to the growth rates of trees, including site productivity, tree atmospheric accumulatio n . Secon d, t h ose trees able to take ments
age, climatic variability, disturbance, and competition, most adva ntage o f ri si ng CO 2 wi ll h ave a competitive advantage well,
of these factors can be modelled mathematically or be aver- over those that ca nn o t -suggesti n g tha t future com petitive time 1
aged by using many samples and many sites.
interactio ns m ay be surp rising. Finally, a n d most importantly,
. Using this approach, we asked the question: Is there an
there is still a lot to learn about how rising atmospheric CO2
increasing trend in the growth of trees over the past century
will affect fo rests and forested ecosy stems. It is an exciting
t_hat ~annot be explained by these other competing explana-
tions, To answer th ' . ti m e to work in t h e field o f forests and g lobal change.
Tree Ring D t B is question we used the International
a a ank (NOAA d) .
archive containing data on t , n. . , a publicly accessib le
of thousands of tre h~ annual growth rates of tens
es worldwide u . .
we removed the va . b1 . . sing stat1st1cal mode ls
na ity in growth h
by factors unrelated to CO . t at could be explained
causes of variability in 2- While we cannot control all
growth rates th l
used suggests that th , e arge sample size we
Wh ese other effe t
ile our analysis lacks the . _c s should average out.
F~CE forest experiments, the f prec1s1on of the three natural
sites allows even a small . act that we analyzed over 2 30o
~f the data. What we founs~g_nal to emerge from the n,oise
ing: approximately 20 is both surprising and inte
tex~lained increasin:~;e~~n~ of trees worldwide sho::t-
our times what on in growth (Figure n
obviously d'1s e would expect by ch 3.3)-about
cernable . ance Th . Sand d
growth is increa . spatial pattern to th . . ere is no
sing, and no species . e sites Where time, a
is more likely th sea, th
an any

the bui
CHAPTER THREE I Eco y tern Are Dynamic 89

western and High Arctic, there has been an increase in wil- The process can be relatively rapid in shallow lakes, because
low, with dwarf birch increasing in the eastern Arctic (Myers- the nutrients (one of the auxiliary energy flows discussed in
Smith et al., 2011). There can be important implications of Chapter 2) promote increased plant growth that leads to more
such changes for other species. For example, as taller shrubs biomass and nutrient accumulation. The lake becomes shal-
begin to dominate over larger areas they may shade out the lower over time, with less surface area of water, and the aqua-
earlier seral stage species, such as the lichens. Lichens are the tic communities may eventually be out-competed by marsh
main food supply for endangered caribou species, and these and ultimately terrestrial plants. This process is another
successional changes may have implications for the future example of a positive feedback loop (the shallower the lake
health of the caribou. gets, the stronger the forces become to make it shallower), dis-
In some areas, other factors such as soil conditions may cussed in more detail in the next section. Eutrophication may
be more important than climate in determining commun- also constitute a significant management problem, since the
ity composition and structure. These are known as edaphic species being replaced often have higher values to humans
climaxes (Box 3.3). than the species replacing them. This problem is discussed in
In addition to primary succession, successional processes more detail in Chapter 4.
occur on previously vegetated surfaces such as abandoned
fields or avalanche tracks, or following a fire, where soil is Indicators of Immature and
already present. This process is known as secondary succes-
sion. The earlier soil-forming stages of primary succession are
Mature Ecosystems
not repeated, so the process is much shorter, with the disper- As successional changes take place in commumt1es, sev-
sal characteristics of invading species being a main factor in eral trends emerge. For example, annual net primary pro-
community composition. Annual weeds again dominate the ductivity declines as the slower-growing species establish,
community until perennial weeds, such as goldenrod, start and diversity increases as more specialized species come
to become established. Where conditions are suitable, the to dominate the community and more finely subdivide the
community will eventually be invaded by shrub and ultim- resources of the particular habitat. However, the increase
ately tree species. A major challenge for agriculture and forest in diversity will not continue indefinitely, according to the
managers is to prevent this natural recolonization by species intermediate disturbance hypothesis (Figure 3-4). This
that may not yield the required products. As a result, chem- hypothesis suggests that ecosystems subject to moderate
ical herbicides, as discussed in greater detail in Chapters 9 disturbance generally maintain high levels of diversity
and 10, are often used to arrest secondary succession. compared to ecosystems that experience low or high levels
Similar kinds of processes also occur in aquatic environ- of disturbance. Under low levels, competitive exclusion by
ments. Here, the natural aging is called eutrophication (eu = the dominant species reduces diversity. With high disturb-
well, trophos = feeding) as nutrient supplies increase over ance, only those species tolerant of the stress can persist.
time with inflow and the growth and decay of communities. Disturbance occurs at different scales, from small scale such
as that associated with a gap created in a forest when a tree
falls over from death or windthrow, to large scale associated
with widespread fire.



FIGURE 3 .4 The interm ediate disturba nce hypothesis.

90 Part B I The Ecosphere inate most food chains, with a h
Decomposers dom tgh
Certain differences between mature and immature systems ciency of nutrient cycling and energy u se. Net produqi;
are generic (Table 3.1). In general, mature ecosystems tend to
1 Immature ecosystems tend to have the opp osite
1s ow.
. ~.
have a high level of community organization among many these characteristics. ~
larger plants and have a well-developed trophic structure.


BOX 3.3 I Edaphic Climax: Table Mountain, Newfoundland

43 W
49 N 42W

The west coast of Newfoundland (as with most of the rest of

the island) is dominated by the boreal forest (Chapter 9). In
Gros Morne National Park (Figure 3.5), however, and at other
locations on the west coast, this greenery (white spruce,
paper birch, balsam fir) is punctuated by practically treeless
Gulf of St Lawrence
orange-coloured outcrops that bear little if any similarity to E
the surrounding vegetation. These outcrops result from the
distinctive chemical composition of the bedrock, known as H
serpentine. Along with three other serpentine outcrops in d'
western Newfoundland, the Table Mountain massif in Gros st
Morne was formed on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean millions tE
of years ago and rafted up to its present position through the o
process of continental drift. if
_serpentine is characterized by high levels of nickel, chro- e.
mium, and magnesium and low levels of calcium . Most f1
s~ec1es of the surrounding forests cannot tolerate these con- ti
d1t1ons; i_f they grow at all, they are stunted. Instead, the ser- s
pentine is host to relict communities of tough Arctic-alpine s
species that have survived since the retreat of the glaciers and
have not been displaced through the process of succession
such as_the Arctic-alpines on the surrounding bedrock These FIGURE 3.5 Location of Table Mountain.
~~;:r~~:~: i~;:u~ities are edaphically driven, wh~re the
mining plant covet is more important than climate in deter-

f difference between l~,e cl omrnant
. veget .
o outcrops in ewfoundlancl' G atJon of the eda h ' .
a s ros Morn 1 P tc c lim
roun mg boreal forest can be cl I e atJonal Park and h ax
ear y seen along the g 1 . l e sur-
eo ~ 1~oundary.
CHAPTER THREE I Ecos ys t e m s A r e D y n a mic 91

Characteristic Immature Ecosystem Mature Ecosystem

Food c hains Linear. predominantly grazer Web - like. p redominantly detritus

Net produc t1v1ty High Low
Species d1vers1ty Low High
Niche spec1allzat1on Broad Narrow
Nutrient cycles Open Closed
Nutrient conservation Poor Good
Stability Low Higher

Source Modified from O dum (1969) Copyright C> 1969 by the America n Assoc1at1on for the Advancemen t of Science

Effects of Human Activities unusable because of the weeds, and the invasion was spread-
ing rapidly. This was of considerable concern to the resi-
Humans influence ecological succession. Many activities are dents, not only because of the impact on their recreational
directed toward keeping certain communities in early seral
stages. In other words, humans seek to maintain the charac-
teristics of the immature ecosystems, shown in Table 3.1, as
opposed to those of the mature ecosystems that would result
if natural processes were allowed to proceed. Agriculture, for
example, usually involves large inputs of auxiliary energy
flows to ensure that succession does not take place as weeds

try to colonize the same areas being used to grow crops. The
same can be said for commercial forestry. Maintaining eco-
systems in early successional stages has several implications: ~
r,.,.,,,., .
This non-native plant has become
er--\,fll-... a senoUs nuisance in Bntish
The productivity of early successional phases is often ..:.,,....,,....""',""'"'
It-. ............
Columbia lakes It grows and
~ I IIOl.
spreads rapidly. Dense colonies
interfere with boating.
higher than later phases. swimming. weterskung,flshing
end other water recreation.
Nutrient cycling, discussed in more detail in the next
Even small weed fragments.
chapter, is often more rapid in early stages. Trees, for transported on boating equip111ent
can produce new plants 1n
example, not only hold nutrients in t heir mass for a longer previously unlnfested areas

time than herbaceous plants, but also maintain relatively

low temperatures in soils. High temperatures result in Do not transport ,t

'Remove all weed
more rapid breakdown of organic material and release of fragments from w1th,n
boats and from pro-
nutrients to the environment. Water uptake and storage by pellors. anchors and c
plants is also much reduced. Consequently, disturbance boat trailers b fore mov,ng
to another area

may result in a significant loss of nutrient capital from a Tell us 1f you see 1t
You can report new Jnfestat1ons
site through losses in soil water to streams. by contacting
Proc Manag r
Overall biodiversity tends to be reduced. c P!Jln1 M Prwram
w,,., lnYfll gat1one a, anch i
The species most adversely affected are often highly spe- M1nb11")' of Eth ,onnwn1
f'lrt.1rncN'U 8uLldinga \.' 6C V8"/ IXi iE
cialized ones at higher trophic levels. u
The species that benefit most are usually pioneer species ~

(weeds and pests) that have broad ranges of tolerance and ffi p,, nceor Ministry of
Environment ._.. t.,~ 0
~ Bt11 t1 Co!umt

efficient reproductive strategies for wide dispersal.

"ign-. warni ng of thP prearl of Eurasian wate r milfoil were placed a t
Changing Ecosyste1ns hoat-loac.ling ramp throughout B but did l ittle to stem the colonization.
[n tlw touri l economy of th Okanagan alley, where resort rely on
In the early 1970s, residents of the Okanagan Valley in British wa te r-bu ' eel activities to a ttract clie ntele, conside ra ble conflict aro~e
Columbia noticed excessive weed growth in some of ~he a mong different s take holder rega rding the mo t appropriate mean;, of
controll ing the spread of mil foil.
lakes in the valley. Several popular beaches were becommg
92 Part B / The E cospher e wth sites for fores
The best gro .
relatively stable. t low elevat10ns-
activities but also because of the impact on the economy of are . . _ ich areas a .
alluvial sites m nutrient r many tropical and
this tourist area, for which water-based recreation was the In contrast, d.l d"
fit into this category. . . nee are rea 1 y 1stu
main attraction. . . d low res1 1ie
sites of low mert1a an .f 11
The culprit was Eurasian water milfoil, which arrived in the lowly 1 at a .
and recover on Y very s ' ubJ.ect to change, and
area in the 1970s and, over the next couple of decades, would tinuous1Y s
Ecosystems are con . rorm In some cases, as
spread not only to all the lakes in the Okanagan ~ut also to . 1 . dynamic l '

many other lakes in southern BC and other provmce~. The librium exists on Y 10 a h . is obviously true. The
. f, 1 d bed above, t is
government spent significant amounts of m~ney ~r~mg_ to the mil 01 escn ement of various native
control the spread of the species but to no avail. Ongmat1~g foil invasion involved th e rep ~f'. tand of t he alien sp
. . .th a mono-speci IC s
in Eurasia, the milfoil had reached the eastern shores of this tic species wi with other non-native in
Similar effects are common . )
continent probably a century ago and since that time had . h b om purple loosestnfe (Box 3.4 ,
spread across the continent, replacing native aquatic plants such as Scott1s ro ,
in many water bodies. prey, and zebra mussels.
This ecological event, the spread of a Eurasian plant
into North America, also illustrates the dynamic relation- Invasive Alien Species
ship among the biophysical, socio-economic, and manage-
0 rgamsms r und in an area outside their nor
ment systems that is the main focus of this book. In BC, for
example, the dependence of local economies such as that such as Eurasian water milfoil and purple loos
of the Okanagan Valley on water-based tourism triggered a considered alien species. The UN Convention on
strong response to milfoil that involved the use of the chem- Diversity defines "alien species" as a species in
ical 2,4-D. This created considerable conflict among different side its normal past or present habitat. Many sp
stakeholders regarding the relative impact of the plant versus ported to a new environment do not survive. How
that of the control mechanism. Critics claimed that manage- multiply rapidly, out-compete native species, c
ment had fa iled to consider the broader perspectives that habitats, and become invasive alien species. C
would have been included had they adopted an ecosystem- that make plant species more likely to be a succ
based approach to the problem and had failed to adapt to the sive alien include being a fast-growing gene
changing parameters of the situation. Chapter 6 discusses ability to alter growth form to suit different con
various approaches to these kinds of resource management a fa st reproducer able to reproduce both sex
issues in greater detail. ually with a good dispersal mechanism, and bei
Situations such as this are common. We tend to think of with humans.
ecosystems as having relatively constant characteristics, of Invasive species are second only to habitat
being in a balance in which internal processes adjust for
a le~ding cause of biodiversity loss. Globally,
changes in external conditions. It is not a static state but one
spec~es are_ res~onsible for almost 40 per cent
of dynamic equilibrium. James Lovelock (1988) postulated
species extmctions for which the cause is
the Gaia hypothesis, which claims that the ecosphere itself
they are often the main cause of extinr+;
is a self-regulating homeostatic system in which the biotic tl . '-"""OllS.r:
e opportumty or the indigenous speciea
and abiotic components interact to produce a balanced, con-
two per ce~t of species listed as endange
~tant ~tate. This is an example of a highly integrated system
such a perilous state because of th
m which there is a strong interaction among the different . h . ee
m t eu respective habitats (Venter et~
parts of the system. Other systems may not be so highly
depen_dent on one another. Cells in a colony of single-celled . In ~anada, some 12 per cent of the
m Wzld Species 2oio: The General S
organisms, for example, may be removed and have little
are not native, and their numb
effect on the remainder because of the low integration of S f h ers ~-
the system. ome o t em-Dutch elm diseas
spurge, Japanese knotweed Ct
. Not all ec~sy_stems are equally able to withstand perturba- ,gr~
tions. Inertia is the ability of an ecosystem to withstand gypsy moths, carp, rainbow tr
change, ':"~ereas resilience refers to the ability to recover cats,. and rats-are among ~
to the on gmal state following disturba nce (see Chapter l). species problems. More than
Canada have developed .
Ecosystems can have low inertia and high resilience or any
farmers millions of dollat;~
combi~ation thereof. In terms of human usage, it is best to
. pay when purch aS1n . ~
work wit~ systems that have both high inertia and high resili- 6
m Canada.
ence. This means that they are relatively difficult to disturb
One example is th .
a nd , even when disturbed, will recover quickly. Such systems . e vario11s
mto Canada and th U 8P
e S from the B
CHAPTER THREE I E cosy te m r e D ynamic 93

BOX 3.4 I Purple Loosestrife: Alien Invader

Purple loosestrife was inadvertently introduced to North is discharged . An agg ressive invader of aquatic systems. the
America from Europe more than a century ago. Ocean-going purple loosestrife arrived in ballast and has spread through
shi ps typically carry ballast water-that is, water to balance thousands of hectares of w etlands in Quebec and Ontario.
their cargo load in heavy seas-taken on in the originating In Manitoba. it ranks among th e m ost serious noxious weeds .
port. When the sh ip reaches calm water near its destination, It is estimated that an additional 190,000 hectares of wetland
this ballast and everything in it. including biolog ical organisms. habitat in North America is invaded by purple loosestrife each
year. After its woody root systems have become established.
native plants and the anima ls t hat depend on them for food
are forced out.
At the University of Guelph, experiments with the Galerucella
pusilla beetle have showed pro m ising results in controlling
this invader plant. The beetles have a voracious appetite for
purple loosestrife . They eat t he metre-high plant at such a
rate that the plant's capac ity to pro duce seed (about 2.5
million per plant per yea r) is reduced by 99 per cent. Thus.
use of the beetles to control purple loosestrife is promising,
since previous control efforts t hat relied on physical removal,
burning, mowing, and sprayi ng produced negligible results .
However, the beetles also forage o n native plant species.
Manitoba has initiated a biolo g ical contro l program using the
Growi ng along the bank of a tream , purple loosestrife grows highly host-specific weevil Nanophy es marmorates, which is
aggres ively in aquatic y tern and ha been a problematic invader of showing promise for controlling loosestrife
native pecie habitat in Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba.
Sources : www.purpleloosest;

shipments of alfalfa. The diffuse knapweed causes the most trees were killed in Quebec alone, and 80 per cent of Toronto's
problems; it has a wide range of tolerance and a very effective elms died within one year in the 1970s.
seed dispersal system that it has used to colonize vast areas Another fungus, the white pine blister rust, illustrates the
of rangeland in western Canada. It is also allelopathic-that complexity of the impact of invasive species. The fu ngus,
is, it can directly inhibit the growth of surrounding species originating in Eurasia, attacks five-needled pines and causes
through production of chemicals in the soil. The species dis- extensive mortality. Whitebark pine is a key component of
places native species and considerably reduces the carrying the subalpine ecosystems of the Canadian Rockies. It has a
capacity of the rangelands. Cattle will eat it only as a last mutualistic relationship (Chapter 2) with Clark's nutcracker,
resort, and the nutritive content is less than 10 per cent of that
of the displaced native species. Initial control efforts relied
on chemical sprays. A more integrated approach is now being
taken, using biological control and attempting to limit its 200
spread through stricter controls on vehicular access to range-
lands, one of the main means of seed distribution as seeds 150
ride on vehicle tires.
Besides plants, many other species have proved trouble- 100
some. Two fungi, chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease, for
example, have had significant impact on the landscape of 50
~ l and eastern Canada. Both attack native trees that at
time were conspicuous parts of the deciduous forests. 0-t------.- - ~ - - - - ~ -- ~ -~ - -~ - ~ -
American chestnut was attacked by an Asian pathogenic 1600 1650 1700 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000

that was introduced on stocks of Japanese chestnuts FIGURE 3 .6 I Invasive non-native plants in Canada .
~ the past century and the elm by a European fungus Source Federa l, Provin cial. and Territorial Govern ments of Canada (2010
54). Environmen t Canada, 201 0
smitted between trees by beetles. More than 600,000 elm
94 Part B I The Ecosphere
200 wl
r r during the
a crow-like bird that caches the see d s 1or 1orage er
. h h' b rk cones are 160
winter. Unlike those of many pmes, t e w ite a
. l . . Th eds cannot e
b th
opened not by fire but by amma activity. e se re
. . l h k r r dispersal. The 120
earned by wmd and re yon t e nutcrac er 10 Ill
c c retrieval ere-
bird caches the seeds m rorest openmgs ror easy '
80 Ul
ating perfect conditions for germination of the seed. However,
the birds while remarkable in their ability to remember hun- to
40 in
dreds of ~ache sites, invariably "forget" some. These seeds _rnay
then germinate, resulting in the establishment of seed~m~s. re
0 prior to
Beyond the mutualistic relationship between these species in 0
that both benefit, it is important to note that the seeds of the FIGURE 3.7 I Trends in non - native species in the 01
pine are too heavy to disperse very far, which means th at the G
nutcracker is a keystone species, as discussed in Chapter 2. Great Lakes.
,ov,ncial and Territorial Governments of Canada (201a: 52) rE
Source: Federa,I P ,
When keystone species are lost in an ecosystem, that system is aJ
Environment Canada, 2010
subject to significant change. Stuart-Smith et al. (2002) meas-
ured mortality rates of the pine in excess of 20 per cent in
some areas of the national parks as a result of fungus attack. The mussel u sually grows in the top 3 to 4 metres of the $.
There is concern that if mortality rates increase, it will lead to
water, although it can live as d eep a s 3 0 metres. By the end
population declines of the Clark's nutcracker.
of 1988, the mussel had colonized h alf of Lake St Clair and tc
Often, invasive species have been deliberately introduced
two-thirds ofLake Erie at densities a s high as 30,000 per m2. T
by humans and can have much the same impact as species
introduced accidentally. One example is the introduction of On one occasion, a density of 600,000 per m 2 was recorded. tl
Sitka black-tailed deer into Haida Gwaii as a food sou rce for C.

local people in the late nineteenth centu ry. In the absence of 1

preda~ors_ suc_h as wolves and cougars, the deer populations s:
and distnbut10n expanded rapidly. However, because of the 1
nature of the archipelago, some islands were colonized early I
~thers later, and others not at all. This created ideal condi~ le
t10n~ for scie_ntists to study the impact of the deer over differ- r
ent time penods. Stockton et al. (2005) found that vegetation 1:
~~ve~exc~eded Bo per cent in the lower vegetation layers on a
is an s without deer. This contrasted with 10 c
1 d h h per cent wr r
s t 1at ad supported deer for 1onger t h an 50 years
is an 11
0 t
vera p ant species richness was similar b t h 1.
level it was reduced b 20 to '. u at t e P ot
had cl y 50 per cent on islands that had
eer or more than 50 years In
show the potential of see . 1 . . general, these results
mmg Y mnocuou
simplify ecosystems. s species to greatly a
Many of the most serious invasions . t
systems. The Great Lakes c occur m aquatic eco-
' 1or example ar h t
non-native reproducing spe . (F' ' e ome to over 185
cies igure 3 ) 0
t h e zebra mussel. The 1 .7 . ne example is
. . musse ' named . .
JOms a long line of aliens in th G or its striped shell
e reat Lak '
sea 1amprey, alewife and . b es, mcluding the
Bl k ' ram ow sm 1
ac and Caspian Seas the
, 1
musse wa
e t. A native of the
b a 11 ast of freighters in th 'd s mtroduced from th
. e mi 1980s It . e
19 88 ma sample of aquatic worms . was first found in
of Lake St Clair at Windsor D t c?llected from the bottom
E - e roit wh h
ne and Huron. Evidence from E ' ~c connects lakes
. urope i d'
species was an aggressive colo . n icated that th
. . nizer able t d' e
native species. In a short time 't d' ' o isplace m
L k . ' i 1Splaced ost
a e St Clair and caused then ear-extm . f 13 species fr om
western Lake Erie c ion of 10 spe cies
. in.
CHAPTER THREE I Ecosy terns re Dynamic 95

The mussel has now spread throughout the Great Lakes, In 2005 another deadly invader suddenly appeared in the
where it appears capable of colonizing any hard surface. It has Great Lakes: viral haemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS, dubbed
encrusted water intakes and discharges, severely reducing the "Ebola virus for fish." Great Lakes fish have little immun-
their efficiency and necessitating significant expense to ity to it, and it has led to massive die-offs as they become
remove it. Water flow through intakes may be reduced by as infected. The virus is one of the world's most dreaded fish
much as 50 per cent. Many different approaches are being diseases, normally found only in salt water, and one of the
undertaken to screen out the mu ssel, but it appears to be able first foreign pathogenic microbes to become established in
to pass through most physical barriers. At the moment, chlor- the Great Lakes. The virus has been identified in 19 species,
ination is the most common measure, but this raises problems and in the St Lawrence River hundreds of thousands of round
related to the potential formation of toxic organochlorines. gobies have succumbed to the disease. Gizzard shad die-offs
Ontario Power Generation has spent more than $20 million from VHS in Lake Ontario west of Rochester and in Dunkirk
on installing and maintaining chlorine applicators at its Ha rbor on Lake Erie also have been reported.
Great Lakes and inland facilities and another $13 million on Yet another threat-the Asian bighead carp-has arrived.
research to reduce chlorine use. Estimates of the damage to The carp has a voracious appetite, eating up to 20 per cent of
all Great Lakes utilities ra nge from $200 to $500 million per its body weight in plankton every day and reaching almost a
year. The mussel also colonizes spawning sites for other fish, metre in length. The carp escaped from fish farms in the south-
with as-yet undetermined impact on their populations or the ern US in the 1990s and invaded the Illinois and Mississippi
$4.5 billion fishing and tourism industry in the region. River systems. Only a canal in Chicago that connects to Lake
Impacts on the population levels of other species are likely Michigan, protected by an electric fence, prevents the fish
to come about more indirectly through effects on food chains. from entering the Great Lakes. Biologists believe it is only a
The mussel is a filter-feeder that removes phytoplankton from matter of t ime before the carp enters the lakes, which would
the water, thereby affecting all t he species higher in the food lead to the dem ise of the entire fishery. One possible means
chain, such as walleye, bass, trout, and perch. In the Great of entrance is t hrough the live fish trade. Carp are brought
Lakes, for example, there was a marked reduction in the body live from fish farms in the US to Asian markets and restau-
size of whitefish following the colonization by the mussel. rants in Toronto, and the water subsequently is discarded into
The linking factor seems to be the collapse of the amphipod the drainage system, along with any fingerlings (young fish).
Dipoeria, a major food source for whitefish. In some European Since 2005, the importation oflive carp into Ontario has been
locations, invasion by the mussel has led to clearer wat er as a illegal but, despite the threat of large fines, some entrepre-
result of the removal of phytoplankton. These changes may neurs continue to take that risk.
benefit some species, even fish species. Bottom-feeders, such As noted ea rlier, many invasive aquatic species, includ-
as carp and whitefish, and invertebrates, such as crayfish, ing the zebra mussel, arrive in their new habitat courtesy of
may benefit as more nutrients are returned to t he lake bot- ocean freighters, which take on water for ballast in one part
toms, in the form of either dead mussels or mussel feces. of the world and release it in another. More than 3,000 species
However, the mussel does not remove all species of phyto- are being transported around the world every day through
plankton equally. This is creating problems with blooms of th is process. Given the magnitude of these introductions, it
blue-green algae, such as the toxic Microcystis aeruginosa, that is inevit able that some of these species will not only find a
are not ingested by the mussel. Some scientists believe that tolerable home in their new location but also explode into
the algae may be primarily responsible for Lake Erie's 500- great nu mbers.
to 1,ooo-km 2 dead zone, which had mostly b een attributed to In 2004, an international convention to prevent the pot-
chemical pollutants. entially devastating effects of the spread of harmful aqua-
It remains to be seen whether species higher in the food tic organisms carried by ballast water was adopted by the
chain, such as waterfowl, can help to control t he spread of International Maritime Organization, the United Nations
the mussel. Already, numbers of some of these species, which agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping
st0p over to feed during their migration , appear to have risen and the prevention of marine pollution from ships. All ships
considerably. Realistically, it appears t hat t he ducks may have must have a Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan,
some impact, as they have had in Europe, but that the infest a- keep records of their use of ballast, and follow standard pro-
tion wilt be too large and the number of ducks too small for cedures to manage ballast water.
the problem to be controlled in this manner. Fu rthermore, _Canada has legislation and programs that ostensibly deal
once a species becomes established, it is difficult to prevent with the problem of invasive species, especially those that
further spread. Despite major efforts in the US to stop the may damage agricultural and forest crops or pose a danger
spread of the zebra mussel, it was found for the first t ime in to human health. Under the terms of the United Nations
early 2 008 in Lake Mead in the desert near Las Vegas, about Conventi~n on Biological Diversity, discussed in Chapter 14,
,eoo kilometres from the Great Lakes. Canada is also committed to containing invasives that
Part B I The Eco phere
. d are often controversial. If
96 d nt species an d '? Wh" Yo11
to hyper-abun a h t would you o. ich crit .
1 tary bal- k nager-W a er~
6 the reviously vo un
200 ' were a par ma h l reach a decision? off what the Britisl
threaten biodiversity. In p d h Ballast Water would you use to e P
datory un er t e . . were reduced fron;
last measures became man . All ships arriving
t Regulations. . On the coast of Br;
Control and Managemen . (EEZ) and entering
. om1c zone f Species Removal . pletely extirpated
from beyond the exclusive econ . t undertake one o
. . . d"ct10n mus 1 . species to new habitats can dist around Monterey :
waters under Canadian iuns I treat their bal ast h troduct10n o . 11th
h . ballast water, .. Just as t e in . n the removal of species from Islands. Individua
the following: exchange t eu ception facility, or funct10n, so ca . ood
. b JI st water to a re ecosystem . moval of some species, the so-c,11 duced to the coa1
water discharge their a a . B)
retai~ their ballast water on board (Figure 3. . b The reduct10n or re . <1.J.Jed populations thrivE
we s. . d" ssed in the prev10us chapter, may l
1 tone species iscu ue Scientists disco
<eys_ 1 d' tive. One well-known example relates t
arucular y isrup f o ecosystems after i
Hyperabundance . P . .
the ext1rpat10n o
f the sea otter from the PaCI IC coast.
d They noticed that
l nes that attain undes1r- es Cook anchore at Nootka Sound
Introduced species are not the on yNotve species may do the When exp1orer Jam . in terms of locatic
cosystems. a 1 t Co ast of Vancouver Island m 1778, he reported much more life-
able numbers m some e habitats have been on t h ewes f"
. f rs where natura 1 that t h e fur of the
sea otter "is softer and mer than that of
. than the other. Tl
same. This o ten occu . redator s ecies, have
disturbed and species, parucula:ly pl t oylle~ by natural any ot h ers we kno w of-, and , therefore, the discovery of this sea urchin popul.
been removed. Prey specie s1 prev10us y con r part of the continent of North America, where so valuable an voracious eaters o
factors may become hyper-abundant, becomrng pest species article of commerce may be met with, cannot be a matter of major role in coai
and presenting cons1'dera ble management challenges. for many other SJ
indifference." Indeed, it was not. The British, seeking trading
0 ne exampIe 1s the double-crested cormorant that nests . goods to barter with the Chinese in exchange f~r tea,_discov- on the fronds of tl
on is . Lake Erie These large, migratory water buds
. lan ds m bryozoans and hy
ered that sea otter pelts were in great demand m Chma and
nest in colonies and return to the place they were hatched to off the colonists c
breed. The cormorant experienced a rapid population drop in thus made every effort to ensure that the west coast became
tors such as seal.
the 19 6os caused primarily by pesticides such as DDT; con- British (rather than Spanish or Russian!) Columbia.
grazed by sea u1
sequently, it was targeted for protection and its populations The sea otter is a large seagoing weasel of the outer coasts,
The urchins eat t
have rebounded. Today, ecologists have recognized that the flourishing in giant kelp beds. It lacks a protective layer of the ocean floor, ;
bird colonies are threatening rare vegetation. The cormorant blubber but has a very fine fur that traps air and insulates it open ocean or 01
is associated with broken tree branches, foliage stripped for from the cold Pacific waters. It also needs a lot of food (up to species depende1
nests, and guano deposits that threaten vegetation health. 9 kilograms per day) to fuel the fast metabolism that counter- one group had m
Middle Island is one of the few forested islands remaining in acts energy loss to the environment. Favourite prey are sea inated the otter
the region, and in an effort to preserve the rare plant species urchins, crabs, shellfish, and slow-moving fish. coastal commun
there, Point Pelee National Park staff have begun to cull the The otter was easy to catch, and Russian, American, and coast of the Nor
birds that nest on the island. Species culls are one response Spanish hunters, aided by local Native populations, finished control of the u
maintaining the
up to bald eagle
- Restrictions on ballast-water discharge/exchange
----------------------- of Chinese mane
- Restrictions on ballast-water exchange other side of thE
- Alternative ballast-water exchange zone 51
are still reflecte,
away on the BC
so between biophy:

49 Feedback
Feedback is an
Fluvial ecosystems whE
Section 48
,,''...-.": ...' as a result of ch
exacerbate (pos
47 back) the chanf
BRUNSWICK regarding the re
--....... 46
as discussed in (
1~ have a strong ii
74 72 NOVA 100 200km temperatures in
68 66 SCOTIA t::::=- I --j
FIGURE 3.8 6 4 45 free land in su:
Areas for ballast wate 62
r control O th 60 sa Snow has a higl:
n e east coast.
CHAPTER THREE J E cosys tems Ar e Dynamic 97

off what the British had begun. Within 40 years, populations absorbs much of the incoming radiation. As temperatures
were reduced from more than half a million to 1,000-2,000. rise, the area covered in snow will be replaced by areas free of
On the coast of British Columbia, it is likely that it was com- snow, uncovering rocks and vegetation with lower albedo val-
pletely extirpated. However, relict populations remained ues. This will cause more heat to be absorbed, which in turn
around Monterey in northern California and in the Aleutian will contribute to global warming. A similar situation with
Islands. Individuals from this latter population were reintro- regard to forest fires was noted in Box 3.2.
duced to the coast of British Columbia, where expanding On the other hand, negative feedback loops may also be
populations thrive again. in operation and counteract such positive feedback loops.
Scientists discovered the otter's key role in maintaining One of them has to do with the possible role of phytoplank-
ecosystems after studying two groups of islands off Alaska. ton in global warming. Phytoplankton produce a gas called
They noticed that although the two groups were very similar dimethyl sulphide. When seawater interacts with the gas,
in terms of location and physical conditions, one group had sulphur particles formed in the atmosphere serve as conden-
much more life-bald eagles, seals, kelp beds, and otters- sation nuclei for cloud droplets. As the planet heats up, the
than the other. The otter plays a critical role in controlling productivity of the phytoplankton should increase, leading
sea urchin populations (Estes et al., 1989). Sea urchins are to an increase in the amount of gas and cloud droplets pro-
voracious eaters of kelp (large, brown seaweed) which plays a duced. This will have the effect of increasing cloud cover and
major role in coastal ecosystems providing food and habitat reflecting solar radiation away from the planet, which could
for many other species. Diatoms, algae, and microbes grow lead to cooling of the Earth. However, scientists feel that this
on the fronds of the kelp, along with colonies of filter-feeding cooling will be offset by the overall impact of global warm-
bryozoans and hydroids. Predators abound. Fish come to feed ing, as discussed in Chapter 7.
off the colonists or to seek protection from open-water preda- Almost all the examples in this chapter can be used to illus-
tors such as seals, sea lions, and killer whales. When over- trate some aspect of feedback mechanisms. The allelopathic
grazed by sea urchins, this productive habitat disappears. quality of the diffuse knapweed, for example, shows a posi-
The urchins eat through the holdfasts that anchor the kelp to tive feedback loop that promotes the spread of the species.
the ocean floor, and the kelp is soon washed away into the The more the species spreads, the more conditions are cre-
open ocean or onto land. As the kelp disappears, so do the ated into which only it can spread. The sea otters produce a
species dependent on it. On the two island groups in Alaska, negative feedback loop in the sea urchin-kelp relationship.
one group had managed to escape the fur rampage that elim- If the urchins become too numerous and overgraze the kelp
inated the otter elsewhere, and this one displayed the rich beds, increases in otter populations will help to reverse this
coastal community that should extend all along the outer imbalance. When this negative fee dback loop was removed
coast of the North Pacific. Otter populations, through their from the system, there was nothing to maintain the dynamic
control of the urchin populations, are therefore critical to balance of the system.
maintaining the productivity of the entire community, right Similar examples of fe edback loops occur at all scales, even
up to bald eagle populations. The fact that the fashion tastes down to the regulation of temperatures in individual organ-
of Chinese mandarins 200 years ago, met by traders from the isms. Sometimes these feedback messages can be rapid, as
other side of the world who wanted to enjoy afternoon tea,
are still reflected in bald eagle populations 7,000 kilometres
away on the BC coast indicates the complex interactions
between biophysical and human systems.

Feedback is an important aspect of maintaining stability in
ecosystems whereby information is returned into a system
~ a result of change. Feedback initiates responses that may
a.acerbate (positive feedback) or moderate (negative feed-
) the change. There is, for example, considerable debate
g the role of feedback loops in global climate change,
Ul8ed in Chapter 7. One positive feedback loo~ th at may
a strong influence in Canada is the effect of increased
eratares in the North. It would increase the area of snow-
land in ummer and is known as polar amplification.
has.a high albedo;in other words, it reflects rather than
. . al ecosystem. Restoratio
98 Part B I The Ecosphere f the origin . ll.
. . ng the nature o . more on try mg to restor
. In other cases, ascerta1ni ncentrating . d . e
. I for .sts are now co ther than remtro ucmg coll:\.
in the case of orgarusm
. thermoregulauon.
b tween the sumu us ecolog1 . an area ra . h 1
be considerable delay e Unfortunately, tural processes in . 1restoration is very c a lengino
there can . feedback response. melt
na colog1ca h . . o
change and the resultmg . . fi dback loop and snow ponents However, e s wi'd es pre ad agreement t at it is bet
as the example of the positive e_e s the delay between the and costly, and ther~ 1 ystems in the first place rather
'd d radmg ecos . J b
described above indicates, som::1:elong that we are not con- ter to avo1 eg . h fterwards. Aenn aco provides
stimulus and the respon e may 't rnay be too late to try than to try restoring t_ eml ~ est Statement" in the follo-wino
l "Internat10na u d d. o
. e are aware, 1
scious of it. By the time w d owerful positive fee a~
db k an insightfu hallenges relate to 1sturbance
1 trates some c . ,
to moderate the stimulus, an : p been set in motion. This section that us b dance and ecological restoration
1 hypera un ,
loop may already, albeit sl~wl~, avepport immediate actions species remova ' . 'b 1 National Park in Uganda.
scientists su ) based on her work in Ki a e
is one reason w11y manY h ases (see Chapter 7 ' even

to reduce em1ss10ns of green ouse
I g derstanding o a 11 t he
though we do not yet have a c ear un
Population Growth
relationships involved. of the chaotic nature of
b g more aware
The number of m . d.1v1.duals in a species is known . as the pop11
We are also . eco:m a sli ht erturbation becomes greatly
lation. When ca1cu1a e t d on the basis of
. a certam area, such. as
many systems in_~h1~h dba!k ihe so-called butterfly effect,
enhanced ~y pos1t1v~:: the t~rbulence of a butterfly flap- the num b er of sea otters per hectare, . 1t becomes 1 . population
. .
e::tJi:~;r~~e~outh America might, t~rough cascadi_ng
g . flows , influence the weather m North Amenca
. h
dens1ty. T e num er ob forganisms m a popu . at10n 1s 1mport-
ant, because 1ow num he rs will make a. species more. vulner- .
e 1ects on alf .
t'ion. Changes in populat10n charactenst1cs are
able to extmc
(Hilborn, 2004). Further research ~as revealed the :x1ste~ce
of similar phenomena in many different systems m which known as population dynamics.
very small changes can have a great influence on outcomes. Populations change as a result of the balance among ~he
factors promoting population growth and those promotmg
reduction. The most common response is through adjust-
ments in the birth and/or death rates to the factors shown
Synergism is another important characteristic that may in Figure 3.9, although emigration and immigration can
influence change in ecosystems. A synergistic relationship be important factors in some species. As long as births are
occurs when the combined effect of two or more separate more numerous than deaths, then a population will increase
entities is greater than the sum of their individual effects. exponentially over time (Figure 3.10) until the environmental
One example is the problem of acid deposition, discussed FIG URE 3
resistance of the factors shown in Figure 3.9 begins to have an
in Chapter 4. The effects of acid deposition are often exacer-
inhibiting effect that will serve to flatten out t he curve.
bated by the presence of other pollutants, such as ground- discussed
The carrying capacity of an environment is the number
level ozone. Individually, both these forms of pollution may
of individuals of a species that can be sustained in an area independer
cause a certain amount of damage to an ecosystem. In com-
indefinitely, relative to given resource supply and demand. back loop-
bination, however, their effects are magnified.
that are be
Most species will grow rapidly in numbers u p to this point
to demons
and then fluctuate around the carrying capacity in a dynamic
Ecological Restoration tion meets
e_q uili~rium (Figure 3.11). The carrying capacity is not one
to crash b
M hany ehacosystem changes result from human activities and fixed fig_ur~, however, but will vary along with changes in the
t ese c nges may h . . ' blooms on
ave a negative impact on ecosystem other_abiot1c and biotic parts of the ecosystem. In the puffin-
components and functions H h' of this kir
severely damaged ecosyste~s ohwever, t is does not mean that capelm example in Chapter 2, the carrying capacity of the
th availabilit
. ave to stay that way a d Nor Atlantic waters to support the puffin population was
at1on ecology has developed fi ld , n restor- t his foods
heIp repair environmental d as a 1e of study and . severely reduced as a result of a reduction in their food sup
h' practice to d ramatic;
amage. T is book co t . ply caused by co t' f s
examples, ranging from remed' f f h n ams many mpe ition rom another organism human hers of th1
discussed in Chapter 11 and ial 10n o_ t e Sydney Tar Ponds Management inp t h ' y
eed ing u s, sue as provision of supplementar Ecologists
rec amation of th or othe h b. d
Su dbury rendered treeless by 'd . e areas around r a itat requirements are often use to because 01
e orts to reintroduce enda
ac1 ram (Chapte
d .
rs 4 an 13) to ch ange the capacit Of '
r ngere species int 0 . Y an area to meet human demands. limitwher
,Chapter 14). The goals of th fT o national parks cur:; :~1Fs~ s that demonstrate the kind of S-shaped growth
f ese e iorts vary In some
rom merely stabilizing an area with If . enorrnously- igure 3 11 ar d u with the
f . a se mamtai . lation density . e enszty-dependent, and as the pop
o vegetat10n, as in the reclamatio f n1ng cover increases th Ill tions soari
to efrwrts to restore areas t th n. o many . ind ustna . l sites other words th 1 ' e rate of growth decreases.
, e arger th l . ~1, exhaustin,
. 0 o eir pre-d1stu b ' rate. This view . e popu ation, the lower the groWtJ>
tion. ne of the common d. ffi 1 . . r ance condi-
i icu ties m the latt . . is in accord h h f o 40 per cer:
er situation is systems discussed . wit t e equilib rium view o ec h
1 tions, sud
as a result of the d ear 1er . ' but popu l ations
. can st1'll cras
Yna1111c nat . . as
Ure of carrying capac1ues,
CHAPTER THREE I E cosy te rn Ar c D yna mic 99

Lack of food
Lack of suitable habitat 1 1
Abiotic ~
Unfavourable weather C
Lack of water "Cl
Alterations in chemical environment C
0.. ' - -- - - - - - -- - - '
(a)Time- (b) Time -

POPULATION SIZE FIGURE 3.10 I Arithmetic (a) and geometric (bl growth

Gro wth Factors Given the enormous food supplies of the Great Lakes and the
low numbers of predators such as waterfowl, it may be a very
High reproductive rate long time before any natural population crash happens there.
Ability to adapt to environment change The capacity of species to increase in number is known as
Ability to migrate to new habitats
Ability to compete their biotic potential, the maximum rate at which a species
Ability to hide may increase if there is no environmental resistance. Different
Ability to defend
Ability to find food species, however, have different reproductive strategies. Some
Adequate food supply species, such as the zebra mussel, are known as r-strategists,
which produce large numbers of young early in life and over
a short time period but invest little parental energy in their
upbringing. Most of their energy is spent on reproduction,
and they have few resources left to devote to maintaining a
FIGURE 3.9 I Facto rs affecting population growth . longer lifespan. Such species are usually small and short-
lived and can respond to favourable conditions through rapid

discussed above. Some organisms, however, are density-

independent, and the population operates with a positive feed-
back loop-the more individuals in the population, the more
that are born, and the population grows at an increasing rate
Population -
to demonstrate a J-shaped curve. At some point, this popula- overshoots
tion meets environmental resistance, causing the population
to crash back to, or below, the carrying capacity. The algae
carrying capacity - Population
or die-bac k
blooms on ponds in the late spring or early summer are a result ::J
of this kind of growth. In reaction to the increased nutrient
availability after winter, spectacular growth can occur until
this food supply is exhausted and the population crashes. The

t ----
dramatic and economically damaging increase in the num- .0 Initial carrying
bers of the mountain pine beetle in BC is another example. ~ capacity
z New carrying
Ecologists now accept that given the absence of cold winters capacity
because of climate change, the population will only reach its
limit when it has exhausted its food supply (Chapter 9).
In some locations in Europe, this is what has happened
with the zebra mussel discussed earlier. Mussel popula-
tions soared to a peak and stayed there for a few years before Time -
exhausting the food supply and crashing to between 10 a nd
FIGURE 3 . 11 Carrying capacity and population growth
40 per cent of the highest numbers. However, in other loca-
tions, such as Sweden, the expected crash has yet to occur.
100 Part B \ Th!' Ef'ospherr

J llyfish and the Pacific whit - id d dolphin ar good examples of marine r and K species respectively.

reproduction. They are opportunists, and their reproductive every three years, are a good example, as are the elephat~
strategy is essentially based on quantity. Such species tend to discussed in Aerin Jacob's "International Guest Statement'
dominate the early seral stages of the successional process. When the conditions to which they have become accustomei
K-strategists, on the other hand, produce few offspring but and under which they evolved their reproductive strater
devote considerable effort to ensuring that these offspring change dramatically, such as with the introduction of ntl
reach maturity. Their strategy is based on quality. Individuals predators (humans), they have little capacity to respondi:
live longer and are usually larger. Populations of K-strategists terms of increasing their reproductive rate.
often reach the carrying capacity of an environment and are In addition to the factors outlined above, chance alsoph
relatively stable compared to r-strategists, which may experi- an important role in determining population size. Sever.
ence large variations in population size. Table 3.2 summar- winters, disease outbreaks, fires , droughts, and similar fo.
izes the characteristics of these different strategists. tors often have a major impact on populations. Peary can
Examples of r-strategists include insects, rodents, algae, bou, for example, exist north of the 74th parallel by digg~
annual plants, and fish. A mature female codfish, for example, under the snow to feed on vegetation. In 1974-5, heavy sno'!1
may produce more than 9 million eggs in one season. and freezing rains led to high mortality as the herd starv~
However, fewer than 5 per cent of these offspring may mature unable to reach their food source. Unfortunately, these all
and last the first year. Most K-strategists are larger organisms, the very same weather conditions predicted to become mo
such as the larger mammals (including humans). Their lower
common as a result of global climate change. In 1993, thert
biotic potential and lesser ability to disperse often means that . the
were more than 3,000 Peary caribou on Bathurst Island10
they are more restricted to the later seral stages of succession. ffig h Arctic. By 1997, as a result of repeated bad winters,the
Many endangered species (see Chapter 14) are K-strategists.
number was down to 75, although 2015 surveys show ab~
The great whales (Chapter 8), with perhaps only one offspring
double that number.

TABLE 3.2 I Characteristics o f K-Strategists and r - St ra t eg1sts

. .
KS g
Late reproductive age
Early reproductive age
Few. larger young
Many, small young
More care of young
Little care of young
Slower development
Greater competitive ability Rapid development

Longer life L1m1ted competitive ability

Shorter life
Larger adults
uve in generally stable environments Smaller adults

Empha sis on efficiency Live in variable or un

Emph predictable environments
Stable populations usually close to carrying capacity as1s on productivity
Large population fluct . ac1tY
uations usually far below carrying caP
CHAPTER THREE \ E co ys te m Are D ynamic 101

The Roles of Elephants and Logging in Tropical Rain Forest Dynamics I Aerin J acob
Tropical rain forests are o ften called pristine, evoking images of rodents, and elephants th en has to contend with increased
ecosystems unto uched si nce time immemorial. However, they w indthrow. Thus. a posit ive feedback is c reated between
are anything but stagnant. Tropica l rain forests are affected by the herbaceous tangle and elephants t hat slows or stops
a w ide range of interacting factors, including natural events seconda ry succession .
such as volcanic eruptio ns, fire, and disease, and human As K- strategists, elephants have slow popu lat io n growth
influences such as technology, resource extraction, and war. rates (or low biotic potential) . Nevert heless, in the absence
Although people have affected tropical rain forests fo r millen- of factors regulating growth, thei r pop ulation w ill grow at its
nia, the extent and intensity o f o ur current impacts are much maximal rate. G iven that Kiba le has b een relatively well pro-
greater than ever before. Depending on the number, severity, tected since the early 1990s, we wan ted to kno w how the
and direction of interacting factors, the effects o n plant and effects o f the elephant population on t he forest had changed
animal communities can be direct or indirect. be predictable or over time. Because it is d ifficult and dangerous to directly
unpredictable, and have short- o r long -term consequences . study elephants by following them o n foot t hrough t hick for-
In Kibale National Park, a biod iversity hotspot in western est. from 1996 to 2008 we ind irectly estimated their relat ive
Uganda, a combinatio n o f human activities and elephant abundance by counting t he number o f tra ils they made as
behaviour triggered an ecological c hain reaction that hinders, they moved t hrough vegetation. This count w as used to com-
if not completely suppresses, natural forest regeneration . pare elepha nt abundance in logged and unlogged forest over
Forests in this region u sed to b e extensive, w ith lowland for- t ime. Two pattern s emerge d: first. the relat ive abundance
ests connected to montane and alpine forests. Large animals, of elephants had increased over the last two decades, and
including elephants, moved freely th roughout the la ndscape; second, they w ere particularly fond o f heavily logged forest
in the 1900s, the colonial governm ent desc ribed Uganda as (Omej a et al., 2014).
"literally over- run with elephants- big, dangerous. destruc- While o n the surface it appears that elepha nts eat any-
tive beasts (Jacob. 2014 : 21). To separate wildlife from t he thing in t heir path, they are ac tually selective feede rs, prefer-
growing human population. over 40,000 elephants were shot ring food s low in certain defensive compounds and high in
between 1927 and 1958. Expanding agricu lture confined energy, protei n, and minerals (Ro de et al., 2006). Grasses and
remaining herds to increasingly fragmented protected areas, shrubs make up a large po rtion o f their diet. as well as t he
where ivory poaching in the 1970 s and 1980s red uced t heir leaves, twig s, and branc hes of small trees and bark from large
numbers by a further 80 per cent. In Ki bale, su rviving animals trees (Omeja et al., 2014). It is possible that t he populations of
concentrated near the relative safety o f research stations . preferred tree species m ight decrease over t ime. t hereby for-
Although their global and regional populat ions were severely cing elephants to chang e their dietary preferences. However,
reduced, in some parts of the park elephants became locally many tree species can to lerate som e deg ree of damage, so
hyper-abundant, which affected forest dyna mics.
Capable of moving long distances and d ispersing seeds
and nutrients over vast areas, elephants tend to prefer clear-
ings and disturbed areas over m ature fo rest. Lo cally, their
foraging disturbs forest structure and affect s the growth o f
ind111dual trees- making elephants unpo pular wi th the tim -
ber industry Commercial. m echanized loggi ng took place in
K1bale dunng the 1960s, with the degree o f subsequent forest
recovery depending on the inten sity and inci dental damage
resulting from the harvest The rem o val of m any canopy- level
trees creates unnaturally large gaps in the fo rest- sometimes :~:,--"'-"-::-~ I
bigger than a football field - and changes the m1croc limate 6
of the forest floor Freed from dense shade, a thick layer o f

sun-loving shrubs and vines grows quickly in t hese gaps This ~l"---.C!'-~..~~~:...~ . ~
almost impenetrable tangle of herbaceous vegetation sm 0 th - .f
ers tree seedlings and saplings, provides ground cover for
insects and rodents that eat seeds and seedlings. and attract s
F11111i ly ~roup nf <'IPpha nt~ ,u11ght on a eanwru trup i11 l\.i bult> i\ utionu l
brov,s,ng elephants that trample seedlings and eat or break Pork. U~unda.
saplings Any young tree that somehow escapes th e insects,
102 Part B I The Ero,;p h,n lephant po pulation
hen thee .
. ed forest. Eve n w eavily togged areas dtd
f t I Using long-term data heavily logg d by poach ing, h l ng lived. we
elephant browsing is not always a a . . t d whether drastically reduce . es are very o
on elephant diets and the tree commurnty. we tes e We found Because tro pi ca l tre oving elephants fro
recover. . ffects of rem
the abundance of preferred tree species changed . d to the not see the negative e enturies to come.
s were not relate
that the populations of tree specie that ele- stem fo r decades or c ge forests should
ed by elephants, nor ecosy h w to mana
proportion of trees d amag more Decisions abo ut o , natural disturbance r
phants shifted their dietary preferences to become knowledge of the ecosystems t) Therefore. we should
selective feeders. . do not (e g frequency, intensity, exten .that mimics natural
However two things remain unknown . First, we logging
ce ntrate on managing . - mpact methods to
k W ho w. global environmenta l cha nge might affect th e . l d ' g using low I df
no t Uga nd a dynamics, inc u in . canopy gaps small an ar ii
situation. In recent years, climatic changes in wes ern . f ll
incidental damage, keeping
include an increase in temperature and more erratic rain a
and harvesting large trees .
(Jacob. 2014). Such climatic changes can affect the primary
productivity and nutritional chem istry of plants. increasing . b s an ecologist and consert
Aerin Jaco I
the amounts of fibre and defensive compounds and decreas- . wor k'ng in tropical and temperate
scientist 1
ing the amount of protein in leaves. If nutritional chem istry of is a post-doctoral fellow at
systems . Sh e
their native foods changes. elephants could alter thei r _ di_et-
University of Victoria.
ary preferences and might increasing ly turn to crop-ra iding
to meet their nutritional needs (Rode et al., 2006). Today, ele-
phants leave the park only to raid adjacent farms; hum an-
elephant conflict rema ins one of the highest pnonty co nce rns
for local people. Second. we still do not know how to resto re

Evolution, Speciation, suited to those conditions. Another example occurs

part of a population adapts better to a new food sourc:;~
and Extinction better for these individuals to mate with similar indi '
When Charles Darwin published his On the Origin of Species to enhance the ability to exploit that food source,
in 1859, he started a thought revolution that has seeped into time this process might create sufficient differences
virtually every realm of human ideology. His ideas chal- become a different species. Sometimes the effects
lenged the static beliefs of many fields with the concept of influences may combine.
evolution and the mechanisms by which change can occur. The evolution of the polar bear from the grizzly
He postulated that over the long term, populations adapt to example. It is thought that the polar bear evolved as
changing conditions through evolution, a change in the gen- species from the grizzly bear between 343,000
etic makeup of the population over time. This can be achieved years ago. Bears with characteristics that hel
through mutations passed on to subsequent generations, seals on ice flows, such as lighter-coloured ~
eventually creating new species. Within any population, strength, would be relatively more successful in,
some variation in the genetic composition also may predis- rather than in the rest of the range, where a
pose a certain segment of the population to adapt to certain
greater mobility are advantages. Polar bears
conditions. If change occurs to favour those conditions, then
ge~es that helped_them process very fatty die
the part of the population genetically better adapted to the
a s~ngle be~r species became two bear species-
new conditions will be more successful. In this way, over
tation to different environments and th
time, natural selection can lead to changes in the character- . h ep
se1ect10n. T is process of local ad ta+:~
istics of a population. Darwin's ideas crystallized following . k ap ._,~
is nown as adaptive radiation H .
his famous expedition to the Galapagos Islands (Box 3.5). . . owever, 1nsta,a
Phyletic evolution is the process in which a population
breeding between the two species h ntl
Genetic. d" averece y
1versity helps to p te
has undergone so much change that it is no longer able to .. ro ct species froiit
The resilience of a species depe ds rtly
interbreed with the original population, and a new species
the environmental change ho.:r ~a . on the
is formed. This is the process of speciation. It can happen
capacity of the species' ger:e ool apidly it takes plac
as a result of geographical isolation, when a single popula-
In general, the broader th p to ~pond to these
tion becomes fragmented by a geographical feature, such e gene pool the the
as a mountain range or a water body, and the populations to adapt to change. Peripheral ' . greater
the edge of their range ( h populations, or popula:
evolve separately from one another. If conditions differ in see t e "tails" .
the respective environments of the different breeding groups, especially important as th . in Figure 2.16),
from that of the core po le1r. genetic CODlposition
then natural selection will favou r those individuals best .
popu 1anons, such as th ilna.da has ma.ny n.ari
pu ation C
enorthe r-
rn spotted owl (see Chapter cj.
CHAPTER THREE I Eco y terns Are Dynamic 103

. . ' II
'f, .

BOX 3.5 I The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos are one of the most
famous island groups in the world, Allanrc
Galapangos ' AMERICA 1---
and one of the most isolated. The two Islands 1
characteristics are linked. They are \ Isla Ocean
rightly famous as the crucible where I
Isla . 1 Isla ~ ...
naturalist Charles Darwin made the Marchena
Genouesa r-
00. - - --
_po Galapangos I
observations that he developed in his - - Santiago
Jsla.. - - 7 - - - - Islands I
famous On the Origin of Species. and it Isla I
was the islands' isolation both from the . Ba- Isla
-P1":'n I Isla Cristobal
mainland and each other that allowed Isla -4 Santa ~
these characteristics to develop so Santa I Fe . .

that they were so noticeable. Darwin's 1

Ocean Pacific I
theory now provides the basis for our Isla Ocean I :\ lannc
Santa Maria
understanding of life on Earth, explain-
0 SO
) 0c

ing the diversity of life.

Situated on the equator. over 900


kilometres from Ecuador. the volcanic
FIGURE 3.12 I The Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos are surrounded by the
swirling cold Humboldt ocean current
bringing a mix of species, (some more associated w ith the Now we celebrate the Galapagos for their many endemic
Antarctic. such as the Galapagos penguins). many other sea species. The islands were made into a national park by the
birds feeding on the rich nutrient base, and some of the largest Ecuadorian government in 1959, and they are recognized as
aggregations of sharks on the planet. However, the Galapagos one of the most important UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
are better known for their land animals such as iguanas. The Many famous species inhabit the Galapagos. One is the
iguanas differ in morphology and colour from island to island. world 's largest species of tortoise, which varies from island
Darwin noticed there were variations within the same spe- to island in the shape of its shell. Unfortunately, the most
cies, and between islands-most famously the mockingbirds famous one, "Lonesome George." the last tortoise found on
or "Darwin's finches -but did not understand the significance Pinta Island in 1971, died in 2012 without any progeny. The
of these variations until he returned to England and started to Galapagos host the wo rld 's only seagoing iguana. Food being
describe his collection. Other scientists informed him that the scarce on land, these iguanas are adapted to feeding on mar-
"Darwin's finches were not finches at all, and that what he had ine algae up to 9 m etres below the surface of the sea. Darwin
thought were different varieties of one species, w ere, in fact dif- did not like them : "The black Lava rocks on the beach are
ferent species that had evolved to exist in different habitats on frequented by large (2-3 ft [60-90 cm]), disgusting clumsy
different islands. Some were seed-eaters, some were cactus-
eaters, some were insectivores, some ate ticks from tortoises,
and two drank blood from seabirds. Each had developed a spe-
cialized bill shape to assist in its search for its particular food.
It took Darwin many years to refine his ideas and he did not
publish On the Origin of Species until 1859, almost 30 yea rs
after his visit to the Galapagos, wherein he laid out his theory
m the intro duction:
As many m o re individuals of each species are born than
can possibly su rvive, and as, consequently, there is a
frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows
that any being, if it vary however slightly in any ma~ner
profitable to itself. under the complex and sometimes
varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of
surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the st r0 ng The endemic Galapago hawk, the top predator on the islands, eats the
:Jtrinciple of inheritance. any selected variety will tend to placenta of a newborn Galapago sea lion.
opagate its new and modified form . (p. 5)
. ds is u,e Galapagos
l -i Part B . he istan
redator 1n t e no natural predato
The top P es ha
. that many speci people to approach
meaning d alloW
uite tame an . tly controlled to try to
they are q . rn is stnc .
l e distances. Touns d protect this unique l
cos tcs an
haractens I
tain these c
of nature for all time.

TIIO famou ' endemic pecie - togethe r' Here the Galapagos mockingbi rd
pick:, lice off the Galapago marin igua na. The iguanas ~re not merely
bein frie ndly with each other: the~ are cold-blooded reptiles and cra\'e
the heat that to etherne- brin . The endemic giant tortoise.

It is important to protect these small populations, as dis- often exceeding 50 per cent (Stokes and Law, 2000). p
cussed in Chapter 14, for their unique genetic properties that have hence selected for the survival of certain fish,
increase the resilience of the species to change and that may small fish. For example, the average weight of gro
be crucial for future reintroductions. on the Scotian Shelf (southwest of Nova Scotia) de
Changes in the abiotic environment are not alone in promo- 66 per cent between 1970 and 1995 (Leggett and Frank
ting evolutionary change. Species may also change through These smaller fish produce fewer and less viable
co-evolution, whereby changes in one species cause changes
i~g scientists to formulate the Big Old Fat Fecun4.
in another. Each species may become an evolutionary force
Fish (BOFFFF) hypothesis. These old fish are irre
affecting the other. A typical case is a prey species evolving to
that they not only contain more eggs but also pro
be more effective in avoiding a predator. In turn, the predator
may evolve more efficient hunting tech niques to detect the more _viable eggs. As BOFFFFs are harvested, fish pop
have mcreasingly g t d'ffi .
prey. Many such relationships have evolved in the tropical for- . rea er 1 1culty m achieving r
ests, especially between specific plants and animals, because population, an~ a negative feedback loo sets in.
Our predation Of . P
of the long period of evolutionary change that has taken place r terrestrial vertebrates,
ungu 1ates (ror example
in such environments. Canada has many examples as well, developed (D . ' cows, pigs, and deer), is
particularly relating to pollination in which various insects anmont et 1
that human predator k'~l-, in press). Fa et al. {20C>2)
birds, and bats have evolved to pollinate flowe ring plants'.
mammals in neot s. l 1more than 5 million t
and, in turn, a great diversity of plant shapes, sizes, and col-
Gauthier et al ( ro)pica and Afrotropical fo
ours have developed as a di rect response to the activities of . 20o1 report d h
the pollinators. of North America e t at half of the ad
n snow g
The processes of evolution described above have always and Kays (2011 ) h eese results from
s owed th l
been thought to take place very slowly. However, biologists mals are more lik l . at arge and medium
e y to die a
have identified processes occurring much more quick! as to natural causes . h h s a result of human
l' ' wit unf b
a result of human activities in a process known as con~ m- ta tty. Human predat . ing eing the main
b ton indu .
porary evolution (Darimont et al., 2009). One of the main ecause we are repla . ces nucro-evolutionary
pressures for contemporary evolution is human harvestin agents of selection. c1ng natural predators as d
of prey populations. In established fi sheries, once fish ente~ Traditional h
targeted age classes, predation by humans occurs at rates on takin h ._g strat
Fo r exampl t e oldest and egles have often concen
two to three times higher than that of natural predato 1arge
rs, fish l . e, we shoot the l st members of a popul
, ettlllg th 0 argest
e thers go ram and catch the la 1
so that t hey can grow larger "1"
CHAPTER THREE I EcOS) s tems Are D~ namie 105

Perspectives on the Enviro,nnent

We live amid a global wave of anthropogenically driven
biodiversity loss: species and population extirpations
and, critically, declines in local species abundance.
Particularly, human impacts on animal biodiversity are an
under-recognized form of global environmental change.
Among terrestrial vertebrates, 322 species have become
extinct since 1500, and populations of the remain-
ing species show 25% average decline in abundance.
Invertebrate patterns are equally dire: 67% of monitored
populations show 45% mean abundance decline. Such
animal declines will cascade onto ecosystem functioning
and human well-being. Much remains unknown about
\fany tropical orchid are product of co-ernlution. The Bower ha ernlved this "Anthropocene defaunation; these knowledge gaps
to imitate the female wasp of the pecie that pollinate the flower. The hinder our capacity to predict and limit defaunation
male i~ deceived into thinking that the flower i1:, a female wa p, Bie into
impacts. Clearly, however, defaunation is both a perva-
the floller. and in -o doing pick up pollen that i- -ubsequently taken to
sive component of the planet's sixth mass extinction and
the next imitator; thu- pollination occurs.
also a major driver of global ecological change.
- Dirzo et al. (2012: 401).

be harvested later. However, research is indicating that indi-

viduals do not have equal capacity to become large and that
by eliminating the largest, we are systematically selecting than have ever existed before, indicates that speciation has
for smaller individuals in the future. In general, individuals' exceeded the extinction level. However, speciation takes time.
size and growth rates decline, while reproductive investment Even for r-strategists, it may take hundreds or thousands of
increases and individuals become reproductively mature at years; for K-strategists, it may take tens of thousands of years.
smaller sizes and earlier ages. This is happening with many Evidence suggests that in recent times, human activities have
different species as average sizes continue to decline. Other strongly tipped the scale in favour of extinction over speci-
features may also be influenced by human hunting. For ation (Box 3.6), as discussed in Chapter 14. Table 3.3 gives
example, Jachmann et al. (1995) reported an increase in tusk- some examples of species that at one time existed in Canada
lessness among African elephants. Tuskless males increased but are now extinct.
in the population from approximately 1 per cent in the early Extinction, like speciation, is not a smooth, constant pro-
1970s to about 10 per cent in 1993, and tusklessness among cess but one punctuated by relatively sudden and catastrophic
females rose from 10-5 per cent in 1969 to roughly 38 per cent changes. It appears that multi-cellular life, for example, has
in 1989 following intense poaching that targeted individuals experienced five major and many minor mass extinctions.
with ivory-bearing tusks. These trends have since been con- Scientists think that the age of the dinosaurs, a remarkably
firmed at many locations in Africa. The number of tuskless successful dynasty that relegated mammals to minor eco-
female elephants in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park logical roles for more than 140 million years, was brought to
and adjacent Lupande Game Management Area, for example, an end 65 million years ago by the impact of a large extra-
increased from 10.5 per cent in 1969 to 38.2 per cent in 1989, the terrestrial object. And then the mammals took over. Perhaps
peak of the "ivory wars," as a result of illegal hunting for ivory. the dinosaurs, through the processes of evolution and speci-
Two of the best-known large tuskers on the African continent, ation, managed to out-compete the mammals for a long period
Mountain Bull and Satao, were both killed for their ivory deep and, were it not for the chance impact of the asteroid might
inside national parks in Kenya in 2014. Many conservationists still be the dominant animal life. However, this chance occur-
now wonder whether this tuskless evolutionary trend may be rence not only led to the demise of the cold-blooded dinosaurs
the only way to save Africa's elephants in the long run. but also favoured the survival of the rodent-like mammals
Extinction is the opposite of evolution and represents the with their smaller body size, less specialization, and greater
elimination of a species that can no longer survive under new numbers. Small body size was likely a sign of the mammals'
conditions. The fossil record suggests that perhaps close to inability to challenge the dinosaurs during the normal evolu-
99 per cent of the species that have lived on Earth are extinct. tionary process; however, small body size became a positive
The fact that we may still have up to 50 million species, more feature favouring survival under the new conditions.
106 Part B I The Ecosphen

Probable Causes
Last Recorded
Species Distribution
1844 Hunting
Great auk (Alea 1mpenn1s) Canada, Iceland, UK,
Greenland, Russia
Hunting, habitat alteration
Canada, US 1878
Labrador duck (Campto rhynchus labradorius)
Hunting, habitat alteration
Canada, US 1914
Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius)
Commercial fishing , introduced p~
Deepwater cIsco (Coregonus johannae) Canada , US 1955
Co mmercial fish ing, introduced
Canada, US (Great Lakes) 1978
Long1aw cIsco (Coregonus alpenae)

BOX 3.6 I Humans and Extinction

Extinction is a natural process . Scientists estimate the aver- Europe, 19; Asia, 38; Australia and the surrounding a11
age rate of species extinction by examining the fossil record, North America , 43; and South America, 62. Althoug
which suggests that extinctions among mammals occur at was a loss of habitat for many species during the
the rate of about one every 400 years and among birds one the extinctions affected all climate zones and cold-a
every 200 years. Current extinction rates are difficult to esti- species as mu ch as other species, and there had be
mate, because we do not have a full inventory of species and corres po nding losses in earlier ice ages. Researcher
so we do not know what we are losing. Based on curren t now ma pped all these extinctions against the expa
rates of habitat destruction for tropical forests,
estimates range as high as 100,000 extinct spe-
cies per year. Many of these extinct species are
i 1.00

likely to be undescribed arthropods (invertebrate

animals with an external skeleton, a segmented t
ial 0.95
body, and jointed appendages, such as insects
and spiders), since these make up the majority of
species in tropical forests . The most recent and 0.90
sophisticated assessments, based on detailed
historical assessments rather than on models,
suggest that extinction rates across all species 0.85
groups range from 1 to s per cent becoming
extinct since 1800 (Hambler et al., 2011). Some
groups show rates that are double or triple this 0.80
range, such as amphibians. If one group had to
be selected as a proxy for overall species loss, it
would be birds . ..
j 0.75
More than 22,000 species are listed as threat-
ened on the Red List of the World Conservation
Union (JUCN, 2014) . Fewer than 10 per cent of the
world 's species have undergone status assess-
ments, yet more than 30 per cent of amphibians, 1980 1980
23 per cent of mammals. and 12 per cent of birds
Fl~UR_E 3 .13 The Red List Index shows t
are threatened, according to the IUCN Overall, extinctio n over time of various . he rate of
however, corals are declining most rapidly g rou p were stable in number inspecies groups
th on
(Figure 3.13). Species at risk of extinction are dis- e Ieast-thre te
wou ld be a horizontal line overt . a ned
cussed in more detail 1n Chapter 14. imew1than .
would indicate that all listed spe . . index Of
Scientists have known for many years that, dur- c1es in that
T he graph shows that, overall a . . group
ing and after the last Ice Age (approximately the mph1b1an
last 100,000 years). there was a mass extinction
however, corals are showing th s are cl
e most ra 'd
of large mamma ls with Africa losing 18 species; ~ u b ~ a l . /200 91. Pl decliria!
CHAPTER THREE I Ecosystems Are Dynamic 107

humans and found that there is a much stronger correla- a myth . Even that mightiest symbol of the wild, the grizzly
tion of extinction with human presence than with climate. bear. was apparently under pressure from Aboriginal hunters
It seems that. even in these early times. humans evolved as in Alaska (Birkedal, 1993).
a super-predator capable of driving many other species to
extinction For example. in North America the extinctions
included ten species of horse. four of camel. two of bison.
a native cow. four elephant species. the sabre-toothed tiger.
four antelopes." and the American lion. No such extirpations
were associated with the same period in Eurasia. The period
also saw a substantial in-migration of humans from the Asian
continent, who began to prey on animals unfamiliar with. and
therefore not adapted to, human hunting. This hunting, com-
bined with the environmental stresses experienced through
habitat alteration and repercussions through the food chain.
was sufficient to extirpate these species. Researchers (Waters
et al.. 2015) have recently discovered direct evidence of
prehistoric hunting on horses and camels in Alberta about
13,300 calibrated years before present (yBP).
Charles Kay (1994) studied the subsequent impact of
Native Americans on ungulate populations before the onset
of European influences. He concludes that even then.
humans were the main limiting factor on ungulate popula-
tions in the intermountain West and that elk in particular
were over-exploited. The people had no effective conserva-
tion strategies and hunted to maximize their individual needs, It eem difficult to believe that what we now consider primitive
weapon , such a this pear and other hunting tool of the Orang As! i
irrespective of environmental impacts. Thus. the image of
people of Malaysia. may have enabled humans to hunt many other
North America as a vast wilderness unaffected by human pecie to extinction.
activities before the coming of the Europeans appears to be

There are other examples of the non-random impact of ensure that insects and other food are available for young
mass extinction on life. The features that make some spe- animals. Tree swallows across North America advanced
cies successful during ordinary times may be completely egg-laying by as much as nine days from 1959 to 1991.
unrelated to the new conditions, making life's pathway some- Unfortunately, the hatchlings are now emerging before major
what chaotic and unpredictable rather than the smooth path insect hatches, and as a result populations of tree swallows
that evolutionary theory might suggest. are declining because of chick starvation. These types of

Impacts of Global Change

Global climate change will have profound impacts on the
numbers and distributions of species in the world. Overall,
climate is the main determinant of the patterns of life.
Changes in temperature and precipitation (discussed in more
detail in Chapter 7), will have a profound effect on these pat-
terns. ln general, there will be a poleward shift of life zones.
The east-to-west orientation of the main terrestrial ecozones
of Canada, shown in Figure 2.12 1 is likely to be replaced by
a predominantly north-south pattern. Prairie ecozones will
expand and forested ecozone will contract as precipitation
levels fall. Species dependent on grassland will increase
their range; those dependent on forests will contract. .
rchuPolo~i,-t~ work ul a dig -.ite of a fo~silized dinosaur at Albt>rta'
Already, there are many documented examples of species
Dinosaur Prmineial Park. More pecie ' of exti11ct dinosaurs have been
range changes in response to climate change. For ex~mple, found and identified a l thi I,\ orld Heritage 'ite than anywhere else in
egg-laying, flowering, and spawning are occurring earlier for the \\oriel.
Illany species, in some cases disrupting delicate cycles that
108 Part 8 I Tlw Ern~ph,..-,.

BOX 3.7 I The Burgess Shales

. f o ll O wed by this enormously
unice llularrty, . diverse
flowering . In. a b rret five - million -year period.
. and a. fu
. .
million years o f variations on the baste anatomtcat.
set in the Cambrian period. Why, or how'. this flowe
pace . u ncertain It would seem to require a Comb
Is .
exp lana t.10 ns . First, there was literally . an open field a
for colonization-an environment npe to support life
little life in it. Therefore. species did not have to be
ood competitors to survive. Virtually anything c
Since .
this time, even after mass exttnct1ons, . su ff'ci
have remained as pretty tough competition for any
ers. Second, it seems as though the early multi-
mals must have maintained flexibility for genetic
adaptability that declined as greater specialization
organisms concentrated on refining the succeSS11
that had already evolved. Furthermore, we have ll
most of these early experiments in life died out an
remained . There seem to be no common traits s
Harvard paleontologi st Stephen Jay Gould ca lled the Burgess
Shales in British Columbia's Yoho Nationa l Park the single- survivors to indicate that they were the victors
strife. Perhaps just the lucky ones survived.
most important scientific site in the world. Th e reason for this
superlative is the extensive bed of fossils hig h on the flanks Gould. in his fascinating book Wonderful Life,
of Wapta Mountain. They are fossils from the Cambrian era, these findings challenge our established view of
some 530 million years ago, when the re was a great flour- an inevitable progression over time from the prim
ishing of diverse life forms . The specia l feature of the site is to the sophisticated and many. They also radicalt
that the fossils from this era are preserved in great detail, even our view of ourselves as being the logical end p
down to the soft body parts, such as stomach contents. tionary change, the rightful inheritors of the Ea
The story revealed is one of great diversity at a time when all words: "If humanity arose just yesterday as as
but one phylum of animal life made a fi rst appea rance in the branch of a flourishing tree [of evolution), then
geological record . The site also con tains many body patterns any genuine sense, exist for us or because of
for which there are no current cou nterparts. Thu s, it seems are only an afterthought, a kind of cosmic ac
as though life could be characterized as three billion years of bauble on th e Christmas tree of evolution (G
In other words, we should be humble!

changes are expected to continue, and it is predicted that the

drought in the Prairie Potholes region (southeastern Alberta Other changes are also taking place such as in
and northeastern Montana to southern Manitoba and western or the ways in wh h 1. ' nal
ic c tmate affects the seaso
Minnesota) will lead to significant reductions in the popula- P1ants and animal Bl .
. 0 om tune for plants for
tions of 14 species of migratory waterfowl; 30 to 50 per cent influenced by te s. '
. h glob I mperature,
ate d wit 1 and rising tempe
fewer prairie ponds will hold water in spring by 2060, with an
associated 40 to 50 per cent decline in the numbers of ducks
of fl owers aBetc unate change will be reflect&
settling to breed in the area. bloom time of 1 c:een _2001 and 2012, for ex
There are interesting human dimensions to range changes for of nine days (G nadian plants moved forward
onsamo et l 2 )
some species. The white-footed mouse, fo r example, is a prime ogy can lead to . a , 013 These chaa
host for the pathogen that causes Lyme disease. The mouse is cies. In an ocean~lSDlatches in the timing of
expanding its range northward into Quebec as a result of mild auklet, a seabird1c ';ample, the breeding
winters, and Roy-Dufresne et al. (2015) predict that by the end reflects ocean te..:. tbe northern tip of
I .....peratu~
of 2015 it will have colonized a further 3 degrees of latitude p ankton prey Peak ea . es, as popule;
northward, with consequent implications for human health. (liipfner, 2008). Seabi rher than chick
particularly 'VUlnerabl rc:ls that tel), on a
e to these
CHAPTER THREE I Ecosystems Are Dynamic 109

are short-lived species with a limited window of peak abun- will lead to winter sea-ice coverage of the southern ocean
dance, as discussed in Chapters 2 and 8. declining by up to 30 per cent in some key areas. Migratory
Spring migration is also occurring earlier and fall migra- whales may need to travel 200 to 500 kilometres farther
tion later for many species. For example, 25 migratory south to find the "frontal zones" that are their crucial for-
bird species are arriving in Manitoba earlier than they did aging areas. The affected migratory whale species will
some 60 years ago; only two are arriving later. However, as include the blue whale, the Earth's largest living creature,
usual, there are complications. Short-distance migrants are and the humpback whale, only now coming back from the
migrating earlier because they can read the local cues that brink of extinction after populations were decimated by
conditions in their destination are right for them. However, commercial whaling, mainly during the first half of the
migrating birds in Costa Rica have few cues to tell them that twentieth century.
conditions in Canada are right for their return. Consequently, Both species build up the reserves that sustain them
they arrive at their normal time only to find that the food sup throughout the year in the frontal zones, which host large
ply has already waned. populations of their primary food source, krill. Shrinking
Some species will be able to adapt to these rapid changes; ice-covered areas affect krill production in two ways: sea ice
others will not. For example, the quino checkerspot butter- is a refuge for krill larvae in winter and an area of intense
fly, found in California and Mexico in very restricted distri- algal blooms on which the krill feed in summer. Krill is
butions, was a prime candidate for extinction a decade ago, so fundamental to the southern ocean ecosystem that the
as expanding urban areas caused its habitat in California impact will not be confined to whales but will also affect
to decline to two small colonies, and temperatures further seals, seabirds, and penguins as well as fisheries productiv-
south in Mexico became too hot for the caterpillar's food ity. Frontal zones are areas where water masses of different
plant to survive. However, completely unexpectedly, the temperatures meet. They are associated with upwelling of
butterfly turned up in a new, cooler, higher-altitude habitat nutrients supporting large plankton populations on which
in California and now lays its eggs on a completely different species such as Antarctic krill feed. As frontal zones move
plant type. Had this habitat also been destroyed, this adapta southward, they also move closer together, reducing the
tion strategy would not have been available, highlighting the overall area of foraging habitat available. Since the krill
importance of protecting areas as insurance against future depends on sea ice, less sea ice is also expected to reduce the
climate change. abundance of food for whales in the feeding areas (Tynan
Notwithstanding such rapid adaptations (and undoubtedly and Russell, 2008).
there will be many more surprises), extinctions will occur
because some species are incapable of adjusting at such rapid
rates. Already, the US has listed the polar bear as threatened
under the Endangered Species Act as a result of rapid melt- This chapter emphasizes that ecosystems are dynamic enti-
ing of the sea ice that the bears depend on for hunting seals. ties that change over time. Without such change, we would
Canadian scientists are reporting similar findings, with not have evolved, and the dinosaurs would not have become
underweight bears being reported in a number of locations extinct. The main implication is that we should accept and
(Rode et al., 2012; Stirling and Derocher, 2012). try to understand the nature of these changes and be able to
Scientists predict that 9 to 52 per cent of all terrestrial distinguish between those essentially the result of natural
species (up to 1 million plants and animals) will be on an processes and those that are the result of human activities.
irreversible path to extinction by 2050. These figures appear We cannot impose static management regimes on dynamic
to be supported by past temperature changes. Mayhew et al. ecosystem processes without causing ecological disruption. A
(2008) analyzed the fossil record for the past 520 million visible reminder of this was the fire-suppression policy char against estimates of low-latitude sea-surface tem acteristic of many national park services, which often ignored
pera.ture for the same period. They found that global bio the natural role of fire in these ecosystems. When fires did
diversity (the richness of families and genera) is related start in such ecosystems, the buildup of fuel was often so
to temperature and has been relatively low during warm great as to cause a major and very damaging fire, as happened
;ateenhouse" phases, while during the same phases the in Yellowstone National Park in the US in 1988. Most park
tion and origination rates of taxonomic lineages have services have abandoned such practices for a more dynamic
relatively high. approach that tries to mimic the role of natural fires through
l'hese changes will affect marine ecosystems as much as, prescribed burning programs.
tnore than, terrestrial ecosystems. Migratory wha~es, Unfortunately, the temporal and spatial scales of eco-
e.ltample, will face shrinking crucial Antarctic foraging system change are often so great that they are very difficult
8, which will contain less food and be farther away. to observe in the human lifespan. This limitation has been
l.evels of global warming predicted over the next 4 years recognized as the shifting baselines phenomenon, where
llO Part B I The Eco phere

BOX 3 .s I What You Can Do: Caring fo r Your . farmers whodonotw-e
Buy produce from organic ,
It may seem that , W ith all the complex ities of ecosystem

chang~ an nd 1v1dual can do little to influence th e s1tua-s
ical additives. cies into the environ
tion However. this is far from the case. since many chang e_ Do not introduce new _ s pe them or inadvertently
. t ly by releasing
are brought about by individua ls. and the sum to_tal of the_1r dellbera e . their seeds or fragments.
actions adds up to the tremendous changes descri bed in this example, transporting . n to eradicate an alien
chapter. Specific actions that you can take includ e: Join or start a campa1g

species. f n vour a
Minimize your contribution to globa l warmi ng . The many Get to know the local flora and
. auna. I J
ways of doing th is are outlined in Chapter 7. an recognize alien invasive species.
All change is not bad. J oin
you c a group that IS .
Avoid the actions that speed up eutrophication processes:
polluting waterways, using excessive fertilizer on your change an ecosystem for the better (somett
garden. and using phosphate-based detergents and other ecological restoration).
nutrient additives.

every generation sets the baseline for change at the begin- ecosystem changes, we must use equally dynamic
ning of their own existence, rather than from the beginning to confront the challenges of the future.
of human-induced change. We do not realize how full the One manifestation of such dynamic thinking is
skies of the Prairies must have been with migrating water- reverse defaunation through the assisted translo
fowl prior to the development of intensive agriculture, for
species. Humans have a long history of moving o
example, because we were not there to witness it. Scientists
cies around, but rarely for conservation reasons. In
are only now beginning to unravel the mysteries of some of
this may have to become a major aspect of efforts
these dynamic interactions between the different compon-
ents of the ecosphere. There are complicated feedback loops tain global biodiversity. Species may be translocate
and synergistic relations. In some cases, positive feedback areas to reinforce dwindling populations of the s
loops are strengthened and accelerate undesirable changes or to replace populations that have been extirpate
that underlie some of the most serious environmental chal- t~inking ~as now progressed beyond such meas
lenges facing humanity, such as global warming. Global cli- ~1der ~~v1ng species outside their normal range,
mate change will place considerable stress on many species m a~tic1pation of future climate change or to r-epl
in terms of their limits of tolerance. This will lead to chan- :rcies_th~t ~layed a similar ecological role.
ges in range and abundance, and some species will become e-extinction may be considered, where
extinct. Climate change will also influence the functioning a~elbrought hack to life using clonal technotgie,
of ecosystems, the characteristic ways in which energy and ogy. In rewilding th l.
but rath er to restor' he goa is not
c1es . to reintm -r.
chemicals flow through the plants, herbivores, carnivores
natural systems com ~ t e e:olog1cal;;
and soil organisms that are the living components of eco~
systems,_as described earlier in this chapter. Productivity will 1
Whatever the ap~roa ete with their ecolo~
expensive. The first pc .es _taken, they are all Vi
change; m some places it will increase, in others decline. Food
webs will be ~isrupte~ ~s predators and prey react differently natural systems fromrioritym
th u_s the to pro
to the changmg cond1t10ns. When faced with such dynamic activities that app e ongoing degra.d
ears to be
more fully in Ch
apter 14.

1. Ecosystems change over time. The speed of cha

.1es f rom very slow. over evolutionary time scales ~ew~
t . 2
, o rapid
caused by events such as landslides and volcanic er ti
up ons.
Chapter 3 I Eco ystems Are Dynamic 111

Primary succession occurs on surfaces not previously considerable effort to ensuring that these offspring reach
vegetated, such as surfaces exposed by glacial retreat; maturity. In comparison, r-strategists produce large num-
secondary succession occurs on previously vegetated bers of young starting early in life and over a short time
surfaces, such as abandoned fields. Fire is an important period and devote little or no energy to parental care.
element in ecosystem change. Some ecosystems, such
as much of the boreal forest, have evolved in conjunction 8. Populations adapt to c hanging conditions over the long
with periodic fires. Fire suppression in such ecosystems term through evolution. Evolution results in the formation
can be detrimental to these natural processes. of new species as a result of divergent natural selection
respond ing to environmental change. This is speciation.
3. Ecosystems tend toward a state of dynamic equilibrium in Extinction results in the elimination of species that can
which the internal processes of an ecosystem adjust for no longer survive under new conditions.
changes in external conditions. Not all ecosystems are
equal in their ability to withstand perturbations. Inertia is 9. Although evolution can take thousands of years, scien-
the ability of an ecosystem to withstand change; resilience tists now detect evolutionary changes on the scale of
is the ability to recover to the original state following dis- tens of years as a result of humans acting as predators on
turbance. Both contribute to the stability o f the system. a massive scale.

4. Important causes of ecosystem change include the 10. Global climate change will have a significant impact on
introduction of alien species and the removal of native the distribution and abundance of species. Some will
keystone species. flourish . Others will decline. Some will become extinct.

s. Feedback mechanisms exist in ecosystems that may 11. The concept of shifting baselines makes it difficult for
either exacerbate (positive feedback loops) or mitigate individuals to grasp the scale of changes that have taken
(negative feedback loops) change . place in the environment prior to their existence.

6. Population change occurs as a result of the balance 12. Efforts to reverse defaunation will increase as biodiversity
between factors promoting growth (e.g ., increase in birth declines continue, and assisted tra nslocation of species
rates or reduction in death rates) and those promot- and rewilding will become established pa rts of environ-
ing reduction (e.g., declines in birth or survival rates or mental management approaches.
increase in death rates).
13. Every effort needs to be made to maintain the current ex-
7 Different species have different reproductive strat- tent of global natural ecosystems to minimize the need for
egies. K-strategists produce few offspring but devote these complex and expensive management approaches.

----~. ----...,
l(ey Terms - - --- - _ ~
~ ~

albedo ecotones population density

alien species edaphic climaxes positive feedback loop
allelopathic evolution prescribed burning
b1ot1c potential exti nction primary succession
butterfly effect Gaia hypothesis resilience
carrying capacity inertia rewi lding
climatic climax intermediate disturbance r-strategists
climax community hypothesis secondary succession
co-evolution invasive seed bank
contemporary evolution K-strateg ists seral
Convention on B1olog1cal Diversity mature community serotiny
cyclic succession natural selection shifting baseli nes
disturbances negative feedback speciation
phenology species
dynamic equilibrium
polar amplification synergism
112 PART B I T he Eeo, pb er"

... ~-- - uestions for-R eview

- ~a,!' . . al Thin in
- d Critic -
teg ists most
. 7. Can yo u identify Are K-strateg l c hange?
1. What are different kinds of succe ssion 7- . menta
different seral stages in your area? enviro n ou think of any
1 t ion? Can Y d ,
. climax
. 7. C an y ou What is co-evo u species in Cana a.
2. What is an edaph1c . .find
. so mer7 loca l
8. co-evolution among
examples and identify the dominant l1m1 t1ng fa cto .
as been called ~
. Canada h hy?
3. . n re late to environ -
How does the co nce pt of successio 9- What place in . . the world. and w
ant scientific site in
menta l ma nagement?
. t ons of global cl
How important was fire .in th e deve 1o pm ent of vegetation 10 _ What are
the implIca I 7
4- . d abundance
pattern s in yo ur regi o n? Is th ere a fire m anageme nt plan species distributions an
in yo ur re gion? If so. w hat are its manage m ent goa ls7
0 in species de-e
11. How far shout~ :::ges that such an ap
s. Identify th e main non -n ative plant and an im al species some of the c a
in your regi o n. Wh at effect are th ey having o n the loca;
. . 1 Why do we need
What is rew1lding
ecosystems? What are th e im plicati o ns for ma nagement. 12.

6. Can you thin k of any oth er exa mples of neg ative and 13 Some o f the best-known rewilding SC
positive feed back loops in th e ecos phe re besides those . . F.In d out what has been sugg
. Praines.
menti oned inthe~x~ this is feasible?

-----Related WeliSites . __
Hinterland Who's Who: Invasive Alien Species in Canada -and -topics/i nvasive -alien-species-in.html
Invasive Species IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
cesd_200803_06_e_30132 .html The Rewilding Institute /ou rwork/envi ronment/ba llastwatermanagement/
Pages/Default. aspx

Note: This list comprises works relevant to the subject of the

chapter but not cited in th e tex t. All cited works are listed in Martin, T.G., P. Arcese, and N. Sc;:
the References at the end o f the book. our na_turat heritage: Deer irnpac;ta;
songbird Populations across an
Conservation 144: _ _
Butchart, S.H.M., et al. 2010. "Global biodiversity: Indicators of 459 69
recent declines," Science 328: 1164-8. Noonburg, E.G., B.J. Shuter, and R
Environment Canada and US Environmental Protection Agency. of zebra mussels (Ore's
Wb " C ... ena
2009. State of the Great Lakes 2009 . Ottawa and Washington: e , anadian Journa, Qt
Governments of Canada and the United Sta tes of America. 1353-68.
Gould, S.J. 2002. I Have Landed: Th e En d of the Beginning in Oua1:1men, D. 1988. The Fi
Natura l History. New York: Harmony Books. Science and Natu N ligt,i
,e. ew.
McNeely, J.A. 2001. The Great Resh uffling: Human Dimensions of
Invasive Alien Sp ecies. Glan d, Switze rland: World Conservation

r:;-, Go to to access add'ti

l=d, I 0""1 .....,....

Ecosystems and Matter Cycling

Learning Objectives
To understand the nature of matter To be able to identify the main components of the hydro-
To be able to describe why human intervention 1n bio- logical cycle and the nature of human intervention 1n
geochemical cycles 1s a fundamental factor behind many the cycle
environmental issues To understand the causes. effects, and management
To learn the main components and pathways of the phos- approaches to eutrophicat1on and acid deposition
phorus. nitrogen, sulphur. and carbon cycles

The collapse in the Atlantic puffin population, described in how matter, such as phosphorus, cycles in the ecosphere and
Chapter 2 1 was a result of human interference with energy some of the implications of disturbing these cycles. The most
flow through the ecosystem. There are implications, however, critical environmental challenges facing the Earth, such as
for other aspects of ecosystem functioning. Puffins and most global warming, acid deposition, and the spread of dead zones
other seabirds play an important role in recycling nutrients, in the ocean, result from cycle disturbance. Consequently, it
particularly phosphorus, from marine to terrestrial eco- is critical that you understand the nature of biogeochemical
systems. If these systems are disturbed, then the efficiency cycles if you are to fully appreciate the nature of these prob-
of the recycling mechanisms can be greatly reduced. Since lems and their potential solutions.
the phosphorus cycle has very limited recycling capabilities This chapter is divided into three sections. First, it describes
from aquatic to terrestrial systems, the impact of interfering four biogeochemical cycles. Second, it outlines and explains
With it in this way could be substantial. This chapter explains the hydrological cycle. Finally, it examines the environmental
PART B I Thr Ecos phrrP

ctions on these cycles an d high-

consequences of human a ca n be a part of the
lights a few of the important ways you
effort to mitigate these changes.

. . . h matter or energy. However,
in contrast
Everything JS e1t er which is virtually infinite, the sup-
to th e supply of enerhg~, 1 't d to that which we now have.
Eart 1s 11111 e
ply of matter on d takes up space. Matter
.k y has mass an
Matter, un lJ e energ ' . d of the 92 natura 1
d of and is compose
is what things are ma e . l lements such as carbon, oxy-
and 17 ynthesized chemica e the smallest particles
d d calcium . Atoms are .
gen, hy rogen, an . t' s of the element. Subatomic
that till exhibit the charactens ic d l which have
particles include protons, neutrons, an e e~tr~:: same kinds
different electrical charges. At a larger sea e, h d'f
of atoms can join together to form molecules. W en two 1 -
ferent atoms come together, they are known as a comp~und.
Water (H,O), for example, is a compound made up o t:'o
hydrogen atoms (H) and one oxygen atom (0). Four m~Jor
kinds of organic compounds- carbohyd_rates, fats, protems,
and nucleic acids-make up living orgamsms. . . .
Matter also exists in three different states (solid, liquid, and
gas) and can be transformed from one to another by changes
in heat and/or pressure. At the existing temperatures at the
surface of the Earth, we have only one representative of t~e
liquid state of matter, water. We can also readily see water m
its other two states as ice (solid) or vapour (clouds).
Just as the laws of thermodynamics explain energy flow,
the law of conservation of matter helps us to understand According to the law of matter, emissions from stacks such as these do
how matter is transformed. This law tells us that matter can not simply disappear but end up somewhere else, often with undesirable
consequence , such as acid deposition or global warming.
be neither created nor destroyed but merely transformed
from one form into another. Thus, matter cannot be con-
sumed so that it no longer exists; it will always exist but in
a changed form . When we throw something away, it is still with us, on this planet, as matter somewhere. There is no
"away." However, what we do with that matter is very import
ant, as outlined by Jutta Gutberlet in the "International Guest
St~tement" on recycling in Brazil. All pollution stems from.
this law._ The huge "Superstacks" on large smelters such
at Inco m Sudbury, Ontario, do not dispose of waste (
Chapter 12); they just disperse those wastes over a -..::x..::.,
larger area. The matter <lispers d . h d uJ ,
e 1s t e same an
ately falls as acid deposition somewhere else. The sam
true for all the wastes that we w h d . ks Th
not disappear
. but collect . I as own our sin .
pollution problems. in arger water bodies and

Biogeochemical C cl
For m111tons of years y es
, matter ha b
ent components of the s een moving amnn.o-
WatPr is the only sub !anee th at oce ur, in al l tluee phases of lllaller at ecosphere Th -.,,.,
the ambient temperatu res of th e Earth" urfa ce. to e as the energy fl d . ese cycles are as
th e natura1ly occurr1now I escrib e d in

Chapter ..
h' g e eme
ing t tngs. These are k nts are a necessary
nown as .
nutrients and may be
CHAPTER FOUR \ Ecosy tern and Matter Cycling 115

classified into macronutrients, which are needed in rela-

tively large amounts by all organisms, and micronutrients,
requ ired in lesser amounts by most species. About 97 per cent
Perspectives on the Environment of organic mass is composed of six nutrients: carbon, oxygen,
w e know from studies o f chemistry that our bodies are hydrogen , nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulphur. These nutri-
reorganized sta r-dust. recycled again and again, so that. ents are cycled continuously among different components of
truly, ou r bones are of corals made. the ecosph ere in characteristic paths known as biogeochem-
-Rowe (1993) ical cycles.

Action-Ori ented Research on Community Recycling in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Jutta Gutb e rlet
With more than half of the world's population already living in Since 2005 I have been working within the Participatory
urban spaces, increased generation of solid waste is a serious Sustainable Waste Management (PSWM) program, wh ich
concern most cities have to deal with. Avoiding the genera- started as a bilateral research project in the metropolitan
tion of waste and managing the waste appropriately are there- region of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and is hosted by the Community-
fore critical aspects in makin g communities more sustainable. Based Research Laboratory (CBRL) at the University of Victoria
Non-existent or improper w aste disposal arrangements gen- ( The program helps recycling coopera-
erate health risks and cause harm to the environment. finally tives to become more resilient and public policies more
also affecting our clim ate. In the global South, according inclusive. The program encompasses strategies and com-
to UN-HABITAT (2010), m ore than 828 million, or 33 per cent munity activities focused on the empowerment of the partici-
of the urban population, resides in poor neighbourhoods, pants, by improving the working conditions in the recycling
often not covered by reg ular collection of household waste. cooperatives, working toward a fair income for the resource
Under these circumstan ces. informal sector recyclers and recovery service, diminishing health risk factors, promoting
community-based o rganizations, such as associations or inclusive public policies, and building environmental aware -
cooperatives, are vita l players in waste management. ness as steps toward co-production in waste management.
The recyclable material embedded in household waste Participatory sustainable waste management means solid
1s a vital resource for informal waste collectors, organized waste recovery. reuse and recycling practices with organ-
recyclers. and micro-recyclin g entrepreneurs. Being able to ized and empowered recycling co-ops supported with pub-
access these materials represents a basic need to t he com- lic policies, embedded in solidarity economy and targeting
mons. Greater resource efficiency can be achieved by follow- social equity and environmental sustainability (Gutberlet.
ing the four R's- rejecting, redu cin g, reusi ng, and recycli ng 2009 : 171). The PSWM program puts in practice this approach,
materials-while landfilling and incineratin g waste reiterates which facilitates cyclical use of resources, generates liveli -
prevailing unsustainable exploitation and the w aste o f natu ral hoods, and provides opportunities for human development
resources A cyclic approach integrating pro duction, co n - and empowerment through cooperative recycling . Selective
sumption, and final destination, as demand ed by indu stri al waste collection means recovering resources, sparing virgin
ecology, life -cycle stud ies, material flow, an d ecological foot- materials and diminishing environmental degradation and
print analysis 1s necessary for bu ildin g m ore sustai nable cities. biodive rsity loss, and ultimately caring for current and future
Thus integrating the informal recycling sector an d improving generations . Selective waste collection happens worldwide.
WOrking conditions and livelihoods of waste collectors and particularly in the global South, where this activity generates
tecyclers are important steps toward resou rce recovery, par- work and employment among the most vulnerable popula-
larly in the context of the global South. tion . Improving their working conditions and expanding the
research aims to contribute to bu ildin g more sustainable, activity ultimately also translates into stronger local econ-
r, and more inclusive communities, and to challen- omies and overall reduced social vulnerability, adding to
~ prevailing growth-oriented economi c development. more sustainable communities.
is on understanding alternatives related to waste In Latin America. Asia, and Africa, in particular, an exten-
tion, selective waste collection , and recycling . The sive informal sector is involved in collecting and separating
methodology is participatory and action oriented. recyclable materials from the waste strea m (Gutberlet, 2012.
116 PART B I T he Eco p her e atty excluded fro m soc
. h d and soc 1 .
are impoven s e searchers engage in co
w ho gram re
2008a; Scheinberg et al., 2010; Wilson et al., 2012). In Brazil, rt of the psWM pro ' ganize workshops or se
Pa . .. help or
for example, there are approximately 600,000 individuals ity outreach act1v1t1 es, taries, and conduct pa .
involved in this activity. Yet most of these recyclers (cata - roduce vI'd e o documen h interventions .in Braz11a
P . ted researc
dores) remain extremely poor and marginalized. and action-o nen d Gutberlet. 2011). These
The research my graduate stud ents and I undertake ha s cou ntries (Tremblay an ss among governments a
revealed diverse ways in which these info rmal collec to rs are . the awarene
help increase -production issues and the
redefining waste as a resource and ha s und erscored th e dif- .. bo ut waste co
mun ItIes a t ion overall the research
ficulties en countered in access ing recyclable materials and waste genera .
decrease separation in reducing waste.
receiving fair pay for th e servi ce of collection and separation . alue of source . .
the v d bout the ways in which to infor
Many of the organized groups are co llaborating in regional
have bee n share a .
networks, engaging in collective commercialization and other . able and socially responsible w
make rs on sus t a1n . . .
activities strength ening this social movem ent. Pa st research by way of academic publlcat1ons a
age ment, bo th .
has contributed to increase the level of organization among . l ) through video documentaries. reports,
effec tive Y . . .
the catadores, whi ch is bringing positive change toward com- an d other more accessible forms of informa~1on dis
munity-led recycling as a poverty reduction strategy that also tion. Video is an important tool for empowering pa
improves environmental health in many cities in Brazil. We and informing the public and local governments a
have investigated the potential for integrating organic waste
wo rk of the recyclers and their livelihood concerns.
management with urban agriculture, thereby further reducing
A major current threat to informal and community t.
the volume of waste on landfills and returning valuable nutri-
ling is related to privatization and corporate approa
ents to depleted soils (Yates and Gutberlet, 2011). The majority
waste management, particularly with the introduc
of the organized recyclers in Brazil, and particularly their lead-
waste-to-energy incineration technology (Gutberlet,
ers, are women . The activity provides them with oppo rtu nities
for income generation and, most important, it allows for their Municipalities are tempted by an apparently quick
capacity-building and collective engagement. Cooperative to their waste crisis, and sometimes they buy into t
recycling contributes to the human development of those nology, most often locking into long-term contrac
more years) . Not only does this form of waste ma
cause environmental hazards, but it also dismisses
that resource recovery and recycling are more so
environmentally friendly, generate employment, andi
ute to resource conservation. The research descn
builds on participatory epistemologies opposing the
trends and demonstrates the social. environmental, a
nom1c_val_ue in cooperative recycling . The findings c
to designing _inclusive solid waste policies that pro
munIty bu1ld1ng and d' .
isseminate more sustainable U

Jutta Gutbere t t 1s
an associate
geography at the University of Vicfb
ectstheC ommumty-Based
. Researcl'~1
<:J and undertakes research prima

Am enca
on community-based wasb!'
electi\ e waste collec t'ion at t h e cooperal!.ve Coopercata in Ma ~ B 1 ,.,~
ua, raz1 . '

Figure 4.1 shows a generalized model of h

Like all_t~e subsequent diagrams of cycles in t~~; cha cycl~. the biotic and ab. .
1otic com
exemplifies the types of simplify'mg mo d e1s that apter, speeds from the b" . ponents. Nutrients mo
it 'd iotic to th b'
construct to try to represent the vast 1 .
comp ex1ty ofE h
sc1ent1sts rap1 exchange tak e a iotic pools. For
cesses, as described in Chapter 1 and illust t d . . art pro- oxy es place th h
. rae mF1gu 6 gen move rapid! b roug respiration as
Nutn ents can be stored in the d. ff, re 1.1 . components. Th 1 y etween the biotic. _.;..1
. . 1 erent compartments h und e e ement h Cl.g\,I,
m Figure 4.1 for varying amounts oft'
. 1
ime. n general h
s own ergone mill. st at now m-1-
ous ions of 4Ae up Y'
is a arge, relatively slow-moving abiot'ic poo1t hat m ' tb ere . compartments. years of recyclin
t he atmosphere or the lithosphere and 1s. chemicall
. ay e in Ecosystems You are a prod g .
by the biotic part of the ecosystem O . h . Y unusable cycl" also vary b Uct of recyi
ing and th su stan . 11 .
h . ' r is p ys1cal1
T ere is a more rapidly inte racting ex h Y remote.
c ange pool between
partment So e relative pro ~ y lil
and h . me system h Portion of nu
ave de 1 s ave
ve oped difc nutrient-poor
mechanisms W.
CHAPTER FOUR I Ec<h):,lt"m~ aud Matt.-r ,ycling 117

as high a proportion of the site nutrient capital as removal

in tropical ecosystems. This is discussed in more detail in
Chapter 9.
Speed of cycling may also change within a cycle, depending
on the nutrient of concern and the time of year. For the carbon
cycle, for example, there is greater uptake ofCO2 in spring and
summer as deciduous trees grow leaves. In fall, there is a cor-
respondingly greater release as the leaves fall off and decom-
pose (see Box 4.1). On average, a carbon dioxide molecule
stays in the atmospheric component of the cycle from five to
seven years. This is known as the residence time. It takes, on
average, 300 years for a carbon molecule to pass through the
lithosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biotic
la,h-and-burn agriculture helps tran fer nutrient - from the biomass to components of the carbon cycle. By way of contrast, it may
tht> ,oil to inrrea e agricultural producti it). lt i;, a common agricultural take a water molecule two million years to make a complete
practice in the tropic -, where mo t of the nutrients are in the biomas and
cycle. The speed of cycling is influenced by such factors as
not in the oil. Thi photograph show uch field, cut in the forest in the
ardamom Mountain of Cambodia. The oil rapidly lo. e fertility owing the chemical reactivity of the substance. Carbon, for example,
to the burning of the bioma -- and they are then abandoned for econdar) participates in many chemical reactions. It also occurs as a
,ucce:, ion to occur. gas. In general, a gaseous phase allows for a speeding up of
a cycle, because gas molecules move more quickly than mol-
ecules in the other states of matter.
in other compartments. Tropical forest ecosystems are classic Cycles can be classified according to the main source of
examples. Most of the nutrients are stored in the biomass as their matter. Gaseous cycles, as the name would suggest,
opposed to the soil system (Table 4.1). When leaves fall to the have most of their matter in the atmosphere. The nitrogen
ground, they are rapidly mined for nutrients by plant roots cycle is a good example. Sedimentary cycles, such as the
before those nutrients have a chance to be leached out of the phosphorus and sulphur cycles, hold most of their matter in
system. This is why the root zone of trees in the tropical forest the lithosphere. In general, elements in sedimentary cycles
is generally very shallow. There is no point in going deep to tend to cycle more slowly than those in gaseous cycles, and
find nutrients; they must be harvested as quickly as possible the elements may be locked into geological formations for
from leaf-fall on the surface. In contrast, many temperate for- millions of years.
ests have soils of high fe rtility. Removal of the nutrients in Under natural conditions, recycling rates between com-
the biomass, through logging for example, does not remove ponents achieve a balance over time in which inputs and out-
puts are equal. Human activity serves to change the speed of
transference between the d ifferent components of the cycles.
Many of our pollution problems result from a human-induced
buildup in one or more components of a cycle that cannot be
effectively dissipated by natural processes. It is similar to
when you consume more alcohol than your body can effect-
ively process and you wake up with a headache.

(soil & rocks) Tropical Rain Temperate Rain
Forest(%) Forest (%)
Carbon 1n vegetation 75 50
Carbon 1n litter and soil 25 50
FIGURE 4.1 I Each nutrient is stored and released by Nitrogen 111 biomass 50 6
components of the Earth 's systems. Different nutrients Nitrogen 1n biomass 44 3
follow slightly different paths through the systems and are above ground
~ored and released at different rates.
ll8 PART B I The Ecospher e

BOX 4.1 I The Decomposers ic material in the wet tropics

1 time for organ
recyc . l f rest it is 35 0 years. The high a
In Chapter 2 , attention was drawn to the importance of months in the borea o ,
. es of needle-leafed trees help to
decomposer organisms and detritus food chains. These are of lignin found in 1eav .
the main means by which nutrients in the biotic component . t freezing conditions but offer little food
the trees aga1ns .
of the ecosphere are returned to the a biotic so that plants can to decomposers, so decay is slow. In comparison. d
once again use them. Photosynthesis has been described as le have a high reward for deco
trees, sue h as map , . . .
the process of making a complicated product out of simple high nitrogen levels a nd little protective llgnin._ so they
components; decomposition is the reverse process of making very quickly. However, re searc hers are now discover
simple components out of that complicated product. the slow breakdown of o rgan ic matter in the boreat
Decomposer organisms such as fungi may attack leaves
also plays a major ro le in global ca rbon storage. As the
that are still on the plant; the fungi release products such
are re moved through logging and other activities, not
as sugars, which are then washed to the ground by rainfall.
does t he sup ply of leave s d isappear. but the b uilt- up ca
Once leaves fall to the ground, they are broken down pro-
gressively by various groups of organisms. Larger organisms released thro ugh e ither burn ing associated w ith these
such as earthworms, slugs, snails, beetles, ants, and termites ities or the hig her ground tempe ratu res re s u lting f
help to break up the leaf material in itially. Many gardeners are red uced amo unt of shade.
fully aware of the ability of slugs, for example, to devour green
leaves in great quantities.
Fungi and heterotrophic bacteria further break down the
organic matter, releasing more resistant carbohydrates, fol-
~owed by_ceHulose and lignin . The humus-the organic layer
1n the so1l- 1s composed mainly of products that can resist
rapid br_eakdown. A chemical process, oxidation, is mainly
responsible for the decay of this material.
As everyone who has witnessed leaf decay in autumn
knows, the process can occur quite rapidly. The speed varies
depending on the environment. Warm environments tend to
promote more rapid microbial activity. Leaf decay in the trop-
ics takes place in a matter of weeks. In the boreal forest h -
ever, where conditions are cold and the leaves such , ow Slug play an unportant
role in b. . .
and , as spruce
pine needles, quite resistant recycling of the t. wet we t coast fo rests th b' ieakmg down vegetab
held h nu rients other animal in th ' e iomass of slug i greater
in t e leaves may take decades. Overall, the ave rage

In addition to the bio e h

- - ----_.;.
e eco 'Y tern.

will be given in th h g oc em1ca 1 cycles, some attention actions interfere with th

. . is c apter to the hydrolo ical 1 .
cycle is critical to all oth 1 . g eye e. This occu r and can result . e s~eed at which many
. er eye es smce water 1 . la k f in serious
role m the mobilization and t ' . p ays a maior c o a gaseous ph . environmental
ase in the h
energy for this, as with all ot~:;sportat10n of materials. The the c 1
. ye e ts missing P osphorus cy
ately comes from the su Ph aspects of the cycles, ultim- ~mg, which can lead ::e potential route for m
n. otosynthe
aspects of the cycles and t h . ~1s powers the biot ic m_creased through h problems when mo .
, ' a mosp enc c1rcul t' f l
t he suns energy controls th a ion, ue led by will be discussed h uman activity. Phosph
' e water power th t . .
ior weathering and er . a is so m1portant magnesium and ere, but other ele
OSion processes.
' potassium ft II ments, s
Phosphorus (P) ' o <>wsilllilar
Sedimentary Cycles
'a macro
Sedimentary cycles mobilize materials from . mo1ecules . nutrient .
' is essenf l fi incorpo
to the hydrosphere and back to the litho the lithosphere :a:e on the Earth's ta or tn.etabo1:_
as sulphur, may involve a gaseous ha sph~re. Some, such it is essent l surface 1 ~
as phosphorus, do not. Thes p se, while others, such ta that h n relatt~
ponents. M: P 05Phon,A .....,.
logical uplift over long perio:sc~c~:s relly essentially on geo- any org . --..o r-n
e1ement pr fi an.isms I._ 7
mp ete the cycle Human e erenf 11 lla,re
very read'l . ta yin th .
1 Y W1thi etr ti ..:.;_
n plants fr - u
OtQ. aid
CHAPTER FOUR I Ecosystem and Matter Cycling 119

growth sites. Deciduous trees may recirculate up to 30 per cent

of their phosphorus back to their more permanent components
before the leaves fall, in an effort to preserve the nutrient.
Under natural circumstances, phosphorus is a prime
example of a nutrient held in a tight circulation pattern
between the biotic and abiotic components. Replenishment
rates through weathering and soil availability are limited;
thus, the amount retained by the biomass is quite critical.
The residence time of phosphorus in terrestrial systems can
be up to 100 years before it is leached into the hydrosphere.
Phosphorus is often the dominant limiting factor (Chapter 2)
in freshwater aquatic systems and for plant growth in ter-
restrial soils. Agricultural productivity relies heavily on aug-
menting this supply (auxiliary energy flow) through fertilizer
application. Gruber and Galloway (2008) suggest that both
The Head-Smashed-In U E CO World Heritage Site in outhern Alberta
the nitrogen and the carbon cycles in the ocean are ultimately i rich in phosphorous, as alive peoples used the 11-metre-high cliff
controlled by phosphorus and, since these cycles are key to to kill stampeding bison by driving them off the edge. The decomposed
the global warming response, the phosphorus cycle will be a bone left large deposits of th is macronulrient behind.
main determinant of global futures.
Box 4.2 outlines the impact humans have on the phos-
phorus cycle. weathering (Box 4.3) make phosphorus available in the soil,
The availability of phosphorus in the soil is influenced by where it is taken up by plant roots. Phosphate ions are the
soil acidity. Acidity is measured on the pH scale, which is dis- main source of phosphorus for plants and are released from
cussed in more detail later in this chapter. Below pH 5.5, for slowly dissolving minerals such as iron, calcium, and magne-
example, phosphorus reacts with aluminum and iron to form sium phosphates. Many higher plants have a mutualistic rela-
insoluble compounds. Above pH 7, the same thing happens tionship with soil fungi, or mycorrhizae, which helps them
in combination with calcium. Obviously, things that change gain improved access to phosphorus in the soil. Once incor-
soil pH, such as acid precipitation, can have a critical effect porated into plant material, the phosphorus may be passed on
on phosphorus availability. This is an example of the kind to organisms at higher trophic levels.
of synergistic reaction discussed in Chapter 3, in which the Animal wastes are a significant source of phosphorus
combination of either high or low pH values with low phos- and return to the soil. All organisms eventually die, and the
phorus availability, as a result of chemical reactions, can have organic material is broken down by the decomposer food
a stronger effect than the sum of the two ind ividually. chains. This may take some time, since a considerable amount
Rocks in the Earth's crust are the main reservoir of phos- of the phosphorus is within animal bones. In the past, farm-
phorus (Figure 4.2). Geological uplift and subsequent ers have used concentrated sources of animal bones, such as


BOX 4.2 I Human Impacts on the Phosphorus Cycle
Humans intervene in the pho sphorus cycle in several ways Removal of phosphorus from oceanic ecosystems
that serve to accelerate the mob1lizat1on rate. through fishing, with the phosphorus returned to fresh
water and ultimately the marine system through the dis-
ining of phosphate-rich rocks for fertilizer and deter- solution of wastes
productron. creating excessive runoff into aquatic
onments The major implication of all these interventions is for
ss removal, leading to accelerated erosion of sedi- excessive phosphorus accumulation in freshwater systems
and solutes into streams resulting in eutrophicat1on . Human activity is now estimate~
ation of large numbers of organisms such as to account for about two-thirds of the phosphorus reaching
, alttte, and pigs. creating heavy burdens o f phos- the oceans. The environmental impact of th is nutrient enrich-
:lich waste materials ment w ill be discussed in more detail later.
PART B \ The Ecosphere

. al uplift (millions o
Artificial phosphate
. fertilizers and M
- detergents

Guano (bird
waste deposits) Leaching and
erosion Dissolved
inorganic phosphates
(rivers, lakes,
and soil)

insoluble phosphate

insoluble phosphate sedi~

FIGURE 4 .2 I The phospho rus cycle.

the bison jumps used by indigenous peoples on the Prairies, nutrients that have not been incorporated into food
as a source of phosphate fertilizer. plus elements from the death of oceanic organislDSi
Following breakdown in the soil, the phosphorus is then through to the bathyal and ultimately the abyssal z
either taken up again by plants or removed by water trans-
Figure 2.5). Here, uptake by organisms is extremely
port. Bacteria mineralize the returned organic phosphorus
and the nutrients must either be moved back to the
into inorganic forms so that plants can take it up once more.
zone by_ u?welling currents or wait to be geologically
Most of the water transport occurs in particulate form by
over millions of years to move into another com
streams, which is one reason to be concerned about excessive th
sedimentation occurring through land-use activities such as e cycle. Where such upwellings occur, such
west coasts of Af d . .
logging and agriculture, as described in Chapters 9 and 10. nca an South America, plen
Stream transport ultimately ends up in the ocean. Estuaries
have such high productivities, as discussed in Chapter 2, in
part because of this nutrient input from upstream. The circu-
lation patterns within estuaries tend to trap nutrients, but
some phosphorus finds its way into the shallow ocean areas
of the coastal zone. It may be fixed in biomass by phyto-
plankton or other aquatic plants in the euphotic (eu = well
photos= light) zone and once again incorporated into the food
chain. The coastal zones, with this plentiful supply of nutri-
ents and photosynthetic energy from the sun, cover less than
10 per cent of the ocean's surface but account for more than
90 per cent of all ocean species.
Beyond the coastal zone and the continental shelves w t
, a er
depth increases into the open ocean. Phosphorus and other
CHAPTER FOUR I E cosy terns and Matte r Cycling 121

BOX 4 .3 I Weathering, the Rock Cycle, and Plant Uptake

The weathering of the rocks of the Earth's crust plays an Plants constantly lose moisture from their leaves. This cre-
important role in supplying long-term inputs to biogeochem- ates a moisture gradient within the plant that serves to draw
ical cycles. Weathering is part of the rock cycle whereby water up to replace what has been lost. Water moves from the
rocks that have been uplifted are eroded into different con- roots, and more nutrient-laden water is taken in by the roots. It
stituents. The rock cycle involves the transformation of rocks is the job of the roots to keep the plant supplied with water. As
from one type to ano the r, such as when volcanic rocks are nutrients are removed from the soil water around the plants,
eroded and washed into the ocean. Over millions of years. new nutrients move within the soil water to replace them .
the resulting sediments are turned into sedimentary rocks. In
turn. these sedimentary rocks may be compressed within the
Earth's crust and altered by heat and pressure before once
more being uplifted through the process of continental drift.
Weathering involves numerous different processes. In
Canada, mechanical weathering involves the physical breakup
of rocks as a result of changing temperatures. The action of
water is important. Chemical processes. such as hydration
and carbonatio n. furt her the process by removing elements
in solution. Secondary clay minerals are produced from pri-
mary rock minerals by hydrolysis and oxidation. These clays
are very important in te rms of holding the nutrients in the soil.
The soil can be thought of as a giant filter bed in which each
particle is chemically ac tive. As water percolates through,
containing many diffe re nt nutrients in solution. some of
These sedimentary rocks have be n compressed and folded as part of
these nutrients are held by the clays and become available
the rock cycle.
for plant uptake.

are found because of the combination of high nutrient and cycles but unlike phosphorus, it has strong dependencies on
energy levels. Some fish species, such as salmon, are anad- microbial activity. Sulphur is a necessary component for all
romous, spending part of their lives in salt water and part in life and a building component of proteins.
fresh water, where they die after spawning. When they die, Most sulphur is found in sedimentary rocks such as pyrite-
the nutrients they have collected during their ocean phase are rich shales and evaporite rocks and in seawater. Sulphur is
returned to the freshwater system, resulting in a significant not available in the lithosphere and must be transformed into
input of nutrients, including phosphates (Chapter 8). sulphates to be absorbed by plants. Bacteria are critical here,
Two other recycling mechanisms also occur. One is the changing sulphur into various forms in the soil (Figure 4-3).
biotic one described earlier as marine birds, such as puffins, The exact form depends on factors such as the presence
cormorants, and other fish-eating birds, return phosphorus (aerobic) or absence (anaerobic) of oxygen, which is usu-
to land in the form of their droppings, representing the phos- ally a reflection of the relationship of the particular site of
phorus that has concentrated through the marine food chain. transformation to the water table and the presence of other
This phosphorus, known as guano, constitutes the largest elements such as iron. From these microbial transformations
source of phosphorus for human use and is heavily mined for by chemoautotrophs (discussed in Chapter 2), gases such
fertilizer production. A small amount of phosphorus is also as hydrogen sulphide (H 2 S) may be released directly into
returned to land through the atmosphere as sea spray. the atmosphere (giving the familiar "rotten egg" smell we
associate with marshlands), or sulphate salts (SO/-) may be
ulphur ( ) produced. Through their roots, plants can then absorb the sul-
like phosphorus, sulphur is a sedimentary cycle, but it dif- phates, sulphur enters the food chain, and the same processes
fers from phosphorus in two important ways. First, it has an occur as in the biotic components of the other cycles.
~spheric component and therefore better recyclin~ poten- The complexity of these cycles is illustrated further by
~ Sulphur is not often a limiting factor for growth m aqua- some of the interactions that occur between cycles. For
tic or terrestrial ecosystems. Second, like most of the 0th er example, the phosphorus cycle benefits when iron sulphides
122 PART B I T he Ecosphe re

Hydrogen sulphide
(H 25)
oxygen (0 )

Sulphur dioxide
Water (HzOl

Sulphuric acid
Ammonia (NH 3)



FIGURE 4.3 I The sulphur cycle .

CHAPTER FOUR I Eco plenu, and Maller yclinp: l23

are formed in sediments and phosphorus is converted from atmosphere-lithosphere interface through biological activ-
insoluble to soluble forms, where it becomes available for ity. Nitrogen can also collect in the hydrosphere and result in
uptake. There are also important interactions with global cli- environmental problems such as eutrophication. Most organ-
mate change. For example, rising temperatures and reduced isms cannot gain access to nitrogen from the atmosphere.
rainfall in many areas of the Canadian North are causing The nitrogen is instead obtained from the soil as nitrates. The
more frequent drying out of extensive peat beds. When these main way in which the atmospheric reservoir is linked to the
peat beds are re-wet, they emit three to four times as much biotic components of the food chain is through nitrogen fixa-
s02as do continually wet peat beds and hence add to the acid tion and denitrification, both mediated through microbial
deposition described later in this chapter. activity (Figure 4-4). The historical record shows a close coup-
The upward movement of the gaseous phase of the sulphur ling between the speed of these processes and atmospheric
cycle is also important, since sulphur is also returned to the CO2 levels.
atmosphere, albeit usually for a short time, thereby shortening
the long sediment uplift time that characterizes the phosphorus Nitrogen Fixation
cycle. This is fortunate, because average ocean residence times Biological nitrogen fixation occurs as bacteria transform
are quite long and sulphur is continually lost to the ocean floor. atmospheric nitrogen into various forms. Chemotropic bac-
From the upper reaches of the oceans, sulphur can be returned teria consume atmospheric nitrogen (N2) to obtain the energy
to the atmosphere by phytoplankton or photochemical reac- required to fuel their metabolic processes and convert atmos-
tions. However, unlike phosphorus, a relatively small propor- pheric nitrogen into nitrates or compounds such as ammonia
tion of sulphur is fixed in organic matter, and availability is not gas (NH3) and ammonium salts (NH4+). The most important
usually a problem. As with phosphorus, human intervention in nitrogen fixers are bacteria of the Rbizobium family that grow
the sulphur cycle (Box 4-4) is significant. on the root nodules of certain plants, such as members of the
pea or legume family (e.g., peas, beans, clover, alfalfa). The
bacteria and roots of the plant communicate through chem-
Gaseous Cycles ical stimuli that result in the bacteria infecting root cells.
Once infected, the cells swell into the nodules that you can
Nitrogen ( N)
see on the roots of the peas or beans in your garden. In a
Nitrogen is a colourless, tasteless, odourless gas required by remarkable example of co-evolution, the plant and bacteria
all organisms for life. It is an essential component of chloro- exist in a mutualistic relationship where the plant supplies
phyll, proteins, and amino acids. The atmosphere is more than the products of photosynthesis to the relationship, and the
78 per cent nitrogen gas (N2) and also contains other forms of bacteria transform the atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates. It
gaseous nitrogen such as ammonia (NH3), nitrogen dioxide is one of the few known examples of two organisms cooperat-
(N02), nitrous oxide ( 20 ), and nitric oxide (NO). Excess quan- ing to make one molecule.
tities of these other forms are involved in many of our most Nitrates and ammonium salts are both readily absorbed
challenging environmental problems, such as acid deposition, by plants and create rich soils that support plant produc-
ozone depletion, and global climate change (Box 4.5). tion. Nitrogen is quickly depleted from the soil and, along
Nitrogen cycles between the atmosphere and the litho- with phosphorus, is often a limiting factor in terrestrial soils,
sphere, with the most important interactions occurring at the which explains why farmers grow crops such as alfalfa and

- . l ;,
~t .. - '
BOX 4 .4 I Human Impacts on t he Sulphu r Cycle
Human industrial act1v1t1es are the main source of sulphur Almost 99 per cent of the sulphur dioxide and about one-
gases tn the atmosphere Humans intervene in the sulphur third of the sulphur compounds reaching the atmosphere
cycle mainly through come from these activities These sulphur compounds react
with oxygen and water vapour to produce sulphuric acid
The burning of sulphur- containing coal, largely to pro - (H2S04). a main component o f acid depos1t1on, as discussed
duce electricity later 1n thi s cha pter
The smelting of metal ores that contain sulphates
124 PART B \ The Ecosphere
tures that unite oxygen a
1 high temPera .
clover as part of a crop rotation to help build up nitrates in causes extreme Y . . .d (HNO) which 1s subsequ
. t form n1tn c ao 3'
the soil. About one-half of the nitrogen circulating in agri- nitrogen
carried to earth as preop1
tation and converted into ni
cultural ecosystems comes from this source. The increasing (N03-)- These nitrates can then be taken u~ y pl~nt
cost of fertilizer worldwide has focused more attention on . h . rtance of atmosphenc fixation
biological nitrogen fixation as a part of meeting the global Estimates on t e impo 1fixation
would be a maximum fi
ft t
food challenges of the future (see Chapter 10). Through gen- but 10 per cent o oa
. t s place it at about only 5 per cent.
etic engineering, for example, it may be possible to inject an d most estima e
other crops, such as cereals, with similar symbiotic unions Mineralization, or Why Compost Matters
between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. However, it may
Although nitrogen-fixing bacteri~ are ~n important .
not be that simple. For example, research indicates that spe-
cies involved in nitrogen fixation may also be particularly of nitrates within soil, most physical mtrogen (e.g., JU
susceptible to phosphorus deficiencies, given their high P and and ammonium salts) comes from the breakdown of
energy requirements. ing biomass by decomposer food chains. In fact, nitro
Some wild species such as alder, lupines, and vetch have tightly circulated in most ecosystems between the d
similar bacteria associated with them and hence play a valu- living biomass.
able role when they act as primary colonizers in the succes- Once fixed in the soil, nitrogen is incorporat
sional process or when they help to recolonize sites that have plant matter and then moved through the food
been logged (Chapter 9) or otherwise disturbed. These rela- Mineralization is the process by which decompos
tionships are mutualistic in that both organisms gain. The mass (i.e., dead plants) is converted back to ammo
plant receives enhanced nutrient supply, and the bacteria find and ammonium salts (NH 4+) by bacterial action and
a home in which the plant supplies them with various sugars. to the soil. This process highlights the importan
Other bacteria and algae that fix nitrogen are not attached post in agricultural production and is explored
to specific plants. These free-living nitrogen-fixing micro- in Chapter 10. Primarily, mineralization does n
organisms are particularly important in the Arctic and within nitrates directly, but rather indirectly through an
the ocean. These free-floating relationships are not as efficient cess known as nitrification.
at fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere as vegetative relation-
ships. Estimates suggest that in terrestrial ecosystems, about Nitrification and Denitrification
twice the amount of nitrogen is fixed by mutualistic relation- Chemotrophic bacteria, such as Nitrosomonas and
ships as by these free-floating relationships. convert ammonia and ammonium salts into
Nitrogen is also made available through atmospheric fixa- then into nitrates. Other bacteria-anaerobic
tion that occurs largely during thunderstorms. Lightning reverse the nitrogen-fixing process and convert

BOX 4.5 I Hu man Impacts on the Nitrogen Cycle

Humans disrupt the nitrogen cycle in m any w ays:
(contributing to climat,c h
. . C ange). An
are implicated in both. Eutrophic ~
Chemical fixation to supply nitrates and ammonia as fer-
more detail in the next section ~tlon
tilizer The amount fixed is greater than that pro duced by
nitrogen fertilizers into nit
natural processes. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessm ent
(Chapter 7), and is also . rous ox~
(2005) predicts large increases 1n the future (Figure 4 .5). and tion of the ozone la involved in
Gruber and Galloway (2008) predict that humans will do uble . Yer. Health c
excessive nitrate levels fro on
the turnover rates of the nitrogen cycle of the entire Earth .
supplies (Box 4 9) Th m fertJ .
Rockstr6m. with 29 other leading scientists (Rockstro m e role of
cycle is discussed In l'l'IOre
et al.. 2009), analyzed the safe o perating bounda ries o f the
Re_m oval of nitrate and a d
m ajor global systems an d found that three o f these w ere
soils through the h
alrea dy well past those safe boundaries. as can be seen

in Figure 1.9 . Disruption of the nitrogen cycle was one of
oxides (NO) that
these. The mai n impacts are thro ugh runoff of excess fer-
gen dioxide (N
tilizer (contributing to eut rophication) and denitrification
nitric acid {H
CHAPTER FOUR I Ecosystems a nd Matter Cyclin" 125

Gaseous nitrogen (N2)

in atmosphere


Ammonia (NH 3 )
Organic nitrogen Organic nitrogen
Nitrates (N03 -1 and ammonium (NH 4
proteins in plants proteins in animals
in soil water salts in soil water

(bacteria, fungi)


Nitrites (N0 2 -i
in soil water
the ma rine biosp~
PART B j T h!' Er oRph r re . n If thi happ: n c' limat change, ince
126 fixauo db k 1or
nitroge n egative fee ac b 1 w ould draw addi
Jd act a a 11 of ca r 01
300 - - - - - -- - - - - - wou . h need fixa u on ducing the accum
Projected , re ulting en a o here, thus re
human input_,' carbon from the atm ~ the atmosphere.
,, '
of ant rop
h ogenic CO2 in
d curr nt c im
l' ate-carbon cycle m
250 the other ban , . fE th's climate o note
,, 0n . u ons o ar b
,, d for making proiec trial biosphere ut gen
use . . f the terre h ....L
:0QJ trogen 1im1tat1on o 1 . n effect. In ot er WONa
200 , ni CO2 fert1 1zat10
, ,, assume a strong ct to stimulate further
ilable w1 11 a h '1
Range of terrestrial Total human additional CO2 ava ould requ ire t e avai I
O'I bacterial nitrogen input the latter w
g 150 g rowth. However, . since nitrates are a ne
c fixa tion (except in . of nit rates,
agroecosystems) of large quant1t1es . discu ssed earlier. If they are
0 Fertili zer and . t for all life as . 1 ..
E indu strial uses
ingre d1en . ' ill become a ma1or 1m1tmg
"'oi 100 available, then mtr~gen w 1mitation will significantlY,
Thus nitrogen 1
~ (C 11apter 2 ) ' . biosphere to act as a COa
the ability of the terrestna 1
Nitroge n fixation
50 in ag roecosystem s the future.
Fossil fu els
Carbo11 (C)
Although carbon dioxide gas (CO2) . constitut.
o.03 per cent of the atmosphere, it is the mam reserv
FIGURE 4 .5 I Global trends in the creation of reactive carbon that is the building block for all necessary
nitrogen on Earth by human activities, with projections teins, and carbohydrates that constitute life. Plant
to 2050. carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere throu
Source: Millennium Ecosys tem Assessmen t /2005)
cess of photosynthesis and at the same time emit
carbon becomes incorporated into the biomass
nitrogen gas, returning it to the atmosphere (Figure 4.4). along the foo d chain. Residence times can vary
Denitrification occurs in anaerobic conditions, especially older forests constitute a significant repository i
where large amounts of nitrates are available, such as on centuries. Respiration by organisms transforms
flooded agricultural fields. carbon back into carbon dioxide (Figure 4.7)1 and
Nitrates are highly soluble in water, and if not held tightly
they may be lost to the ecosystem by surface runoff and
become a major contributor to the problem of eutrophication,