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Ecological science for a crowded planet

ll not take us far enough."

In addition, Palmer points out that the committee felt strongly that the central goal of ecology must become understanding how ecosystems function in all of their aspects, with an underlying aim of helping to sustain humans and the ecological services that support them. Targeted efforts must especially focus on sustainability of water resources and problems associated with the growth of urbanized areas. Moreover, the group urged increased collaboration among ecologists, social scientists, policy-makers, and practitioners.

Complementing the ESA's action plan is an article, "Ecology for a crowded planet" also prepared by the committee, which appears in this week's Science. Palmer explains that the article lays out the intellectual framework for the ESA action plan, calling for a research agenda focused on ecosystem services and the science of ecological restoration and design. Noting that sustaining a projected "extended human family of 8-11 billion people will be difficult at best," the article proposes that questions such as which ecological services are irreplaceable, which habitats are critical in providing such services, and how to combine ecological principles with new technology to design ecosystems that can deliver key services, must be addressed now.

Over 10 years ago, the Society unveiled "The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative: An Ecological Research Agenda." That document, which has influenced and informed much of the Society's efforts since 1991, identified and prioritized critical research questions. In contrast, this latest ESA report will serve to crystallize the Society's activities in research, education, and policy, according to President-Elect Jerry Melillo.

Over the coming months, he and other Governing Board members will further discuss the action plan and will decide which specific actions the Society should immediately implement. These will be announced during ESA's Annual Meeti
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Contact: Nadine Lymn
nadine@esa.org
202-833-8773 x 205
Ecological Society of America
27-May-2004


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