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Human Geography and the "New Ecology": The Prospect and Promise of Integration

Karl S. Zimmerer
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Vol. 84, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 108-125
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2563826
Page Count: 18
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Human Geography and the
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Abstract

The "new ecology" underscores the role of nonequilibrium conditions in biophysical environments, a reorientation of biological ecology based in part on biogeography. This paper describes the contributions of the "new ecology" and examines their implications for the analysis of biophysical environments in human geography, the most notable of which is a reformulation of certain key ecological postulates (generalized carrying capacity, area-biodiversity postulate, biodiversity-stability postulate). The irony of these reformulations is that our advanced understandings of biophysical environments come at the expense of the perceived certainty of prediction and possible justification for human-induced environmental degradation. These difficulties are not insuperable, however, as is readily demonstrated by the applications of the "new ecology" in landscape ecology and agroecology. Their example may prove instructive as geographers integrate the "new ecology's" perspectives on biophysical environments and interpret the relations between environmental conservation and economic development.

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