Novel ecosystems: theoretical and management aspects of the new ecological world order

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Hobbs, R. J., et. al.
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We explore the issues relevant to those types of ecosystems
containing new combinations of species that arise through
human action, environmental change, and the impacts of
the deliberate and inadvertent introduction of species from
other regions. Novel ecosystems (also termed ‘emerging
ecosystems’) result when species occur in combinations and
relative abundances that have not occurred previously within
a given biome. Key characteristics are novelty, in the form of
new species combinations and the potential for changes in
ecosystem functioning, and human agency, in that these
ecosystems are the result of deliberate or inadvertent human
action. As more of the Earth becomes transformed by human
actions, novel ecosystems increase in importance, but are
relatively little studied. Either the degradation or invasion of
native or ‘wild’ ecosystems or the abandonment of intensively
managed systems can result in the formation of these novel
systems. Important considerations are whether these new
systems are persistent and what values they may have. It is
likely that it may be very difficult or costly to return such
systems to their previous state, and hence consideration
needs to be given to developing appropriate management
goals and approaches.


Hobbs, R. J., S. Arico, J. Aronson, J. S. Baron, P. Bridgewater, V. A. Cramer, P. R. Epstein, J. J. Ewel, C. A. Klink, A. E. Lugo, D. Norton, D. Ojima, D. M. Richardson, E. W. Sanderson, F. Valladares, M. Vilà, R. Zamora, and M. Zobel. 2006. Novel ecosystems: theoretical and management aspects of the new ecological world order. Global Ecology and Biogeography 15:1–7.