Social scientists and biologists collaborate to address human dimensions of biodiversity

Washington DC As part of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), the National Research Councils US National Committee on DIVERSITAS will bring together prominent social scientists and biologists to lead a discussion on the links between biological diversity and human societies. The panel will also identify how new interdisciplinary research should be prioritized to provide information on the dynamics between humans and their environment that decision-makers in policy and public spheres need. For example information on how biodiversity influences the benefits that humans derive from ecosystems, and how changes in biodiversity will impact human psychology and economies such as fisheries and agriculture. The panel on Human Dimensions of Biodiversity is dedicated to the International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY) 2001 - 2002, a year in which scientists are joining forces to increase communication of important new information on biodiversity.

The interdisciplinary panel is an important step towards the integration of biological and social sciences that is necessary to consider human dimensions of biodiversity. Traditionally social science research, such as economics, anthropology and psychology, has operated largely independently of biological research. This has left science poorly equipped to provide information on how the welfare of human kind and biological diversity are connected. "As a rule, biologists and social scientists work in different departments, read different literature and attend different meetings" observes Ann Kinzig, biologist at Arizona State University and member of the panel. "If we are going to develop a real understanding of how peoples perceptions of biodiversity and the values and actions of society sustain, and are sustained by biological diversity, then biologists and social scientists need to work together much more frequently."

Kinzig admits that developing this inter

Contact: Gina Adams
University of Colorado at Boulder

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