Applied Ecology shows how an understanding of ecological theory can be used to address the most important issues facing ecologists today. It emphasizes the use of ecological tools and approaches in applied contexts and consists of four parts. Part 1 provides an overview of the subjects covered in this text and introduces applied ecology. Part 2 covers monitoring and looks at ecological surveying, monitoring, and ecological indicators. The next part is about managing and examines ecological impact assessment, remediation ecology, landscape ecology and management, non-native species management, and pest management. The final part is about conserving and includes the principles of conservation, in situ conservation, ex situ conservation, and reintroduction and rewilding.
Anne E. Goodenough and Adam G. Hart
Basic Principles of Plant Disease
This chapter explains that all plants get sick, whether they are wild or cultivated. It talks about how some plants suffer only mildly with no visible symptoms, while others succumb to more notable conditions such as leaf spots, leaf streaks and mosaics, stem cankers, swellings, scabs, and galls. The chapter looks at plant diseases that have been described since we have been able to record history. Early writings, including the Bible, mention famines and social depravity caused by rusts, mildews, and smuts. This chapter discusses how plant diseases affect the economy, environment, and social well-being of a country. It reviews records that show the number of plant diseases that have entered and established viable populations in countries around the world. These are increasing at an alarming rate..
What are the impacts of food production on biodiversity?
Thijs Bosker, Ellen Cieraad, and Krijn Trimbos
This chapter looks at biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth. It underscores that biodiversity is currently being lost at an alarming rate, pointing out that extinction rates are estimated to be 100- to 1000-fold higher than natural extinction levels. The chapter also discusses the five key threats to global biodiversity: habitat fragmentation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change, and the overexploitation of ecosystems. Then it examines how agriculture impacts other animals and plants. It describes the strategies of land sparing and land sharing, as well as the concept of rewilding. The chapter concludes with a discussion on biodiversity conservation efforts in agriculture such as agri-environmental schemes and nature-inclusive agriculture.
Biological Controls and Integrated Crop Management
This chapter looks at bees and hoverflies searching for nectar and aphids tapping into the sugar-rich sap, which are considered part of the natural interdependence of living things. It reviews the growing interest in the use of biological control methods, which use living organisms or the products of living organisms to control plant pathogens and reduce the impact of plant diseases on crops. It also examines agricultural systems that have the potential to manage plant diseases, such as Chalara ash dieback and Dutch elm diseasex, in natural ecosystems. The chapter explains how the use of biological control attempts to deal with the plant pathogens or vectors of disease without destroying the ecological balance. It highlights the use of biocontrols and biostimulants as the two main approaches to biological control.
Paul Behrens and Meredith T. Niles
This chapter discusses how the human food systems contributes to climate change and some solutions to reduce its impact. The discussion starts with an explanation of the climate processes, reviewing the concepts of the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle, and the global warming potential. Then it looks at how humans are impacting these processes, resulting in anthropogenic climate change. The chapter explains that the presence of extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere results in the trapping of more energy (in the form of heat) in the Earth's different systems, predominantly the oceans and the atmosphere. This, in turn, results in changes in our climate, including more extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and fires. Furthermore, the chapter presents case studies to show how complicated some food choices are. Lastly, it tackles how climate change will impact food systems as the environment changes.
How do collective action problems hinder the transition to sustainable food systems?
David Ehrhardt, Thijs Bosker, and Caroline Archambault
This chapter discusses how collective action problems hinder the transition to sustainable food systems. It explains the concept of competing incentives, cost-benefit analysis, and bounded rationality. It also differentiates between private goods, club goods, public goods, and common goods. This classification of goods is used as an important piece in the puzzle of collective action problems in food sustainability. The chapter introduces the tragedy of the commons, which describes the general human tendency to abuse non-excludable goods and presents different social-scientific models to explain it: the discrepancy between individual costs and collective benefits, the problem of free-riding, and the model of the prisoner's dilemma. Furthermore, the discussion covers Ostrom's eight principles for community-based natural resource management. Finally, the chapter outlines a range of institutionalist solutions to collective action problems.
This chapter explores different conservation strategies and the important debate on the best way to conserve ecosystems. Nature protectionists insist that people-free Protected Areas are the only proven method while social conservationists insist that the sustainable use of wildlife with social justice for local people is the only long-term solution. Evidence shows that five elements need to be present for marine Protected Areas to be effective, including the engagement of local people. Global international conservation has the right priorities, but enacting them is hard; for example, the plan for UK conservation calls for a wildlife-friendly landscape, with a large expansion in reserve area and connectedness, together with more effective management. There is not necessarily any conflict between biodiversity conservation, agricultural production, and human wellbeing. The trick is to find the win-win-win solution.
Conservation, Ecology, and Science
This chapter discusses the relationship between conservation, ecology, and science. The big problem facing human beings, and all other organisms on the planet, is that the ecological footprint of humans—the area of biologically productive land needed per person per year to sustain their lifestyles—exceeds the ability of the Earth to support it. This environmental crisis will drive many species to extinction. The extent to which these extinctions matter depends on what the species actually do in ecosystems. The chapter then looks at the importance of biodiversity. Apart from dealing with living evolving organisms that are individually different, there are other important aspects of ecology (and hence conservation) as a science. Some of these are: that it involves the hierarchical structure of nature; that it involves huge changes of scale; and that there are many different kinds of explanations for the same thing.
Francis Gilbert and Hilary Gilbert
Conservation starts off by looking at conservation, ecology, and science and describing how they relate to each other. It then examines populations and how they may change in relationship to movement and the size of suitable habitat available, covering also processes that lead to extinction. Other topics include interactions among different species and the processes through which ecological communities are created. Ecosystems are treated next with a look at their relationship to human wellbeing. Finally, the text examines different human attitudes towards nature, including those of indigenous people, and different conservation strategies.
How can we promote sustainable food consumption?
Walsh Bríd, Vicherat-Mattar Daniela, and David Ehrhardt
This chapter focuses on the promotion of sustainable food consumption, which promotes the consumer use of goods and services to meet needs, while minimizing the use of natural resource stocks, pollutants, and contaminants, and reducing waste and emissions throughout the entire product life cycle. The chapter highlights that the food choices of consumers are influenced by a range of determinants, such as social and cultural influences (for example, heritage attachments, status, and fashion), cost and price, and the attitude-behaviour gap. The chapter also tackles the strategies to enhance sustainable food consumption including pricing, labelling, nudging, green advertising, and system-wide reforms.
Disease Management in Crops
This chapter focuses on the ways people manage and treat diseases which affect the crops everyone relies on. It mentions farmers who carefully use a whole range of techniques which ensure their crops are healthy, reduce the risk of infections occurring, and treat diseases or pests. It also highlights measures in planting seeds, ploughing, crop rotations, and break crops which have an enormous effect on the health of crop plants and yield quality produce. The chapter describes crop rotation as the most basic method of cultural control, which is done by growing a series of very different crops from different plant families in a particular field over a series of years. It analyses the break in cultivation that both helps to maintain field fertility and reduce plant disease, which has less obvious benefits in areas such as weed management.
Ecological Impact Assessment
This chapter explains ecological management in line with enhancement, mitigation, and compensation strategies to maintain ecology. It first discusses Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), wherein an evaluation is conducted with regard to the impacts of proposed human development. The chapter then looks at the EIA value of habitat, species, site, individual organism, and ecosystem. It clarifies that Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) and EIA can be either granted, withheld, or denied. Moreover, the chapter expounds on the likely impacts of development, which always includes construction and operational states. However, it lists the impact of development alongside its possible solutions, such as mitigation and compensation. The chapter includes an interview with applied ecologist Lorna Roberts.
This chapter explains the concepts behind ecological indicators. Some ecological indicator systems are based on the abundance of a single species. It is said that environmental indicators are founded on the principle of ecological niches and tolerance range. The chapter lists types of ecological indicators, such as surveys and biotic indices, and discusses the theory underpinning environmental indicators. Then, the chapter explicates biological and biodiversity indicators. It also considers the effort of reconstructing historic landscapes known as palaeo-biomonitoring. The chapter highlights the importance of being aware of ecological indicators so that they can be used appropriately and results are correctly interpreted. It also includes an interview with applied ecologist Alice Trevail.
Ecological Surveying and Monitoring
This chapter discusses the importance of the monitoring process in applied ecology. First, it differentiates types of surveying and monitoring that would be used under the parameters of habitats, species, interactions and ecosystem services, and environmental parameters that influence ecology. Moreover, the chapter considers using direct, indirect, remote, secondary, and primary data for monitoring. It explicates the monitoring of habitats and species as well and uses the Common Standards Monitoring as an example. It lists the main types of monitoring and their main considerations: baseline surveying, spatial surveying, temporal monitoring, compliance monitoring, and mitigation monitoring. The chapter suggests that there is a correlation between monitoring and management. It cites an interview with applied ecologist Elizabeth Pimley.
Ecosystem Services and Human Wellbeing
This chapter highlights the importance of conservation for human wellbeing. Nature provides us with ecosystem services vital to our health and wellbeing. However, these services have been taken for granted until now. There is a relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery; loss of biodiversity leads to losses in the ecosystem service, both in its level and its reliability. Traditionally, nature has been valued at zero, hence decision-makers rarely opt for nature conservation rather than using land for other purposes. It is vital that we value ecosystem services correctly and fully so that the real cost of their loss is realized. Often when the full costs and benefits are assessed, nature conservation turns out to be the most cost-effective and valuable option.
This chapter focuses on the energy system, to investigate the ways in which energy is currently used in the food system and how this use may develop in the future. It outlines the physical nature of energy and power and describes the different sources of energy. The discussion highlights that food production uses around 15–20% of the total energy produced for human needs. The discussion covers two critical issues in energy use: the improved availability of energy in poorer countries and the implementation of low-carbon technologies in all countries. Furthermore, it explains the zero-carbon energy system. The chapter also explores how food systems can be decarbonized. Finally, it looks at the role agricultural systems could play in the energy transition itself.
Ex Situ Conservation
This chapter looks into ex situ conservation. It acknowledges that in situ conservation techniques might be needed if a successful ex situ conservation programme, which is termed reintroduction, is achieved. The chapter explores the subdivisions of ex situ conservation: intensive or general captive breeding programmes and gene banks. Additionally, it discusses the example of the Lord Howe Island Group's ex situ conservation action on the Lord Howe Island stick insect. The chapter notes the significance of collection, transport, captive breeding, reintroduction, supplementation, and reinforcement in relation to ex situ conservation. It talks about the concept of captive breeding by explaining husbandry, inbreeding, and hybridization. Finally, the chapter includes an interview with applied ecologist Dr. Tim Bray.
How can food aid effectively reduce food insecurity?
Caroline Archambault and David Ehrhardt
This chapter focuses on food aid and all voluntary transfers aimed directly at reducing the food insecurity of a particular population. It discusses the five key ways of providing food aid, which are supplementary feeding or providing in-kind food to specific populations; food stamps or providing vouchers for food to eligible populations; food-for-work or exchanging in-kind food for labour; food banks or food distribution points run by civil society organizations; and food sharing which is sharing of food or money within social networks. Furthermore, the chapter looks at the challenges to food aid efficacy such as targeting, conditionalities that serve the donors' interests, and spoiler behaviour by middlemen.
Paul Behrens, Thijs Bosker, and David Ehrhardt
Food and Sustainability is composed of three parts. It starts off with an introduction to the topic. Part I, food and the environment, looks at biodiversity, pollution, water, soils, climate change, and energy. The next part looks at food and society. Chapters in this part cover nutrition, food security, food aid, and consumption. The final part, food and governance, is about food systems, governance, and collective action, with the text concluding by summarizing and looking to the future.
Meredith T. Niles and Molly E. Brown
This chapter discusses the concepts of food security and its connection to sustainability. It looks at where food is produced, by whom it is produced, and how humans then move and use this food around the planet. The chapter first defines the expanding concept of food security, which has begun with narrower concerns of providing enough food and, more recently, encompassing social and cultural issues. The chapter also introduces the four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization, and stability. Then the discussion explores urban agriculture as well as the use of satellite information and Internet-connected devices to improve farm management.