Towards a Unified Pollinator Ecology:
Ecology is an extremely complex science, in some ways more complex than the hard sciences such as physics. While the hard sciences can be known with great precision through linear models, ecology resides in a world of non-linear behavior in accordance to multiple feedbacks between dynamic structures nested in different hierarchies in space and time. Tragically, ecologists are trained to approach complex non-linear questions though the same reductionist framework we train physicists. While this scientific training works well for a liner world, it fails in complex ecological systems.
The comments I provide here are an attempt to unify different types of ecology to provide a systems approach to pollinator ecology. The different types of ecology I choose to explore for key concepts applicable to pollinator ecology include Bioshpere, Biome, Landscape, Ecosystem, Community, Population, Autecology, and Social ecology. The most informative concepts exist as feedbacks between different types of ecology, for example, the concept of “keystone organism”, such as a beaver, living in large historic populations modified plant communities which in turn impact energy/matter flow through the ecosystem, in patterns across the landscape. This multiple ecological criteria analysis (MECA) provides a framework to generate rich descriptions for ecological phenomenon.
The concepts I select are foundational ecological principles, such as keystone species, disturbance theory, niche partitioning, thermodynamics, endosymbiosis, ecosystem phenomenology, landscape connectivity, resilience, ecosystem function & service, and the community continuum concept. Knowledge of these concepts isn’t enough to explain regional solutions to ecological threats. The concepts are merely models for the ecologist to plug and play the regional natural history into in order to run the model. Therefore the models require a strong natural history of the regions biota in order to understand how the concept applies to the questions of concern. Finally, although the framework prioritizes no one type of ecology, all concepts and natural history are scrutinized through ecosystem under the lens of thermodynamics.
Eventually all this information needs to be woven together into a story that makes some sort of useful sense. By no means does the following text represent a definitive analysis, for stories are dynamic, and should act as discussions that change through time and space.
Welcome to the discussion.
In This Series
A Plan For A Better Future: Creating a Unified Pollinator Ecology
Premise 1: Pollinators are grazers
Narrative 2: The most powerful terrestrial ecosystem on earth, the Grazing Lawn
Premise 3: Cool season species are cool too
Premise 4: Decrease grass seeding rates, but increase graminoid diversity
Premise 5: Functional groups, niche theory, and seed mix design
Premise 6: Relax the current punitive genotype restrictions
Premise 7: High density patch planting
Premise 8: Nitrogen pollution is a serious threat to pollinators
Premise 9: Make hay, not war
Premise 9: More pollinator habitat through more frequent fire.
Premise 10: Afforestation, an unknown but significant threat to pollinator survival