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Anthromes v1


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  • 1. Anthropogenic Biomes A 21st century framework for ecology & the earth sciences Erle C. Ellis Department of Geography & Environmental Systems University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250 Navin Ramankutty Department of Geography & Earth System Science Program McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2K6, Canada
  • 2. Humans now shape ecological pattern and process across most of the terrestrial biosphere. “Nature” is embedded within human systems. Ecology needs to move beyond human footprints, impacts & domination.
  • 3. Overview Anthropogenic Biomes • Why care about Biomes? • Why do we need Anthropogenic Biomes? – A missing persons detective story • How to identify & map the biomes – An empirical approach • Anthropogenic Biomes of the World • The way forward…. – A new model for ecological research & education
  • 4. On Biomes… • Biomes describe global patterns of species composition and ecological processes – Basic units in the ecological hierarchy… • Identified as a function of Climate, moderated by Altitude (conventionally) • Basic units for global ecosystem models – IGBP (17 classes; International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) • Core units in ecoregion analysis of biodiversity –
  • 5. Why Anthropogenic Biomes? • Humans control biodiversity & ecosystem processes as much as climate. Deforestation Habitat Fragmentation • Global biome maps are not realistic. Grazing – Much of biome area does not even exist (potential vegetation). – At most includes urban & agriculture (& agriculture+tree mosaic). Agriculture Urbanization • Conventional, climate-based biomes are not static anyway: – Anthropogenic climate change is altering biome location & etc… composition. • Biomes derived from global patterns of human interaction with landscapes may be a stronger model of global ecological patterns & processes.
  • 6. Conventional Biomes ecosystem processes are a function of macroclimate (latitude, altitude, circulation) Ecosystem processes = f(C) C = Climate (precipitation & temperature)
  • 7. Anthropogenic Biomes A Working Hypothesis: ecosystem processes in anthropogenic biomes are primarily a function of human populations and their ecosystem interactions (land use) Ecosystem processes = (in anthropogenic biomes) P T f(P,T) = Population density = Land use (how land & resources are used)
  • 8. Anthropogenic Biomes of the World Rangelands * Ellis & Ramankutty, in press 41 Residential rangelands 42 Populated rangelands 43 Remote rangelands *Mosaic: >25% tree cover mixed with > 25% pasture and/or cropland
  • 9. Croplands Wildlands Atlas Mountains, Morocco Alaska, USA Credit: © BigFoto. < >
  • 10. Populated Forest Koh Samai, Thailand Credit: © Yenit Company Ltd. <>
  • 11. Croplands Remote Rangelands Atlas Mountains, Morocco South Dakota, USA Credit: © Alexander Smart. <>
  • 12. Populated Rangelands Atlas Mountains, Morocco
  • 13. Remote Croplands Colombia Basin, Washington, USA Credit: © GWMA <>
  • 14. Croplands - Residential Rainfed Mosaic Normandy, France Credit: © JH.Bernard. <>
  • 15. Anthropogenic Biomes of the World Village Biomes Ellis & Ramankutty, in press
  • 16. Villages Jintang County, Sichuan Province, China
  • 17. Rice Villages Danyang County, Jiangsu Province, China
  • 18. Urban Manhattan, New York, USA Credit: © Josh <>
  • 19. Urban Baltimore County, Maryland, USA
  • 20. Anthropogenic Biomes of the World Rangelands * Ellis & Ramankutty, in press 41 Residential rangelands 42 Populated rangelands 43 Remote rangelands *Mosaic: >25% tree cover mixed with > 25% pasture and/or cropland
  • 21. Anthropogenic biomes A new framework for ecology • Only 22% of land and 11% of NPP are wild • Nature is now embedded within human systems – It is no longer possible to conserve nature by avoiding human interactions • Human interactions with the biosphere go far beyond a single dimension of impact or domination. • Beyond the “urban + agriculture + wild” model – Forests, rangelands & croplands include people! – A wide range of population interactions.
  • 22. Anthropogenic Biomes: Conceptual Model Wildlands Forested Rangelands Croplands Villages Ellis & Ramankutty, in press Urban & dense
  • 23. Anthropogenic Biomes Results Anthropogenic Biomes are Mosaics – Anthropogenic landscapes are heterogeneous mixtures of different land use and land cover classes. – Urban areas are embedded in agricultural areas. – Trees mixed with croplands and housing. – Managed vegetation is mixed with semi-natural vegetation (e.g. croplands in rangelands and forests). – Hillslopes & mountains are often islands of semi-natural vegetation
  • 24. Villages Pohkara, Nepal
  • 25. Anthropogenic biomes A new framework for education A better story… The old biosphere story… ecosystems “Human systems, with natural “Natural ecosystems with humans disturbing them”. embedded within them”. We own the biosphere: we have altered it irreversibly. Now we control its future.