Natural Experiments of History

The title of this essay is the same as a book edited by Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, published in 2010 by Harvard University Press.  The book explores the general method of natural experiments applied to human societies and history.  It was tempting to title this essay “Cultural Experiments,” because the emphasis of their […]

A Moving Field Guide

Seeing the World Science starts with noticing the world – what plants and animals do, the changes in vegetation over time – or in wondering what’s going on beneath the surfaces we see.  Careful observation continues as we devise instruments or methods to extend our initial view, guided by models and concepts.  Experiments are another […]

Adaptive Explanations in Cities

Cities are hard to explain, no doubt.  Within and between cities, social capital, historical contingency, economic resources, and the deployment of power are well known explanatory variables.  One kind of explanatory process, however, has been notably absent from the roster of possibilities in urban socio-ecological research.  Surprisingly, that missing element is one of the most […]

Complexity: The Hidden Nugget in Jane Jacobs’ Book

Well, perhaps it’s unfair to call it hidden.  It is after all the topic of the final chapter, entitled “The Kind of Problem a City Is.”  In that chapter, she explores the nature of cities as complex systems, stimulated by the work of pioneering cyberneticists as summarized by Dr. Warren Weaver[i].  But I have to […]

Interest in Urban Resilience: A Burgeoning Frontier

Resilience is becoming an increasingly important concept in contemporary ecological science.  Since the introduction of the resilience cycle, an open ended, ecological concept has guided the understanding of this important process (http://besdirector.blogspot.com/2011/01/resilience-ecology-evolution-and.html).  Resilience has been a major stimulus for research in socio-ecological systems.  It has been useful in understanding fisheries, and landscapes in which people […]

Does Science Need Art?

Here’s something to think about, from a recent article in the Business section of the Christian Science Monitor, one of the “newspapers of record” in the United States (www.csmonitor.com/business/2011/0323/What-do-Apple-GM-and-P-G-share-Design): The need to hire 100,000 more teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math to make American students globally competitive is so urgent that President Obama has […]

Insights from the BES Communicating Science Meeting

Common strategies for effective communication of science This meeting, led by Dr. Chris Swan of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with my assistance, was designed to improve the ability to communicate the outcomes of our science with other members of BES and with the larger world.    To do this, the meeting drew on […]

Communicating Science for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study

The theme of the BES Quarterly Research Meeting on Tuesday 5 April is Communicating Science. Featured speakers include Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun, Julie Palakovich Carr from American Institute of Biological Sciences, and science writer Rebecca Wolf. Contributors also include BES members Mary Cadenasso, Brian McGrath, and Steward Pickett. Topics include Communicating Effectively with […]

BES Adds Four Co-Principal Investigators

To acknowledge the broad community that contributes to and manages the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, four persons have agreed to be added as official Co-Principal Investigators and to be recognized as such by the National Science Foundation: Dr. Mary L. Cadenasso, Associate Professor of Ecology at the University of California, Davis has been added to promote […]

Press-Pulse Dynamics: A Hypothetical Feedback Model for Long-Term Social-Ecological Research

An important conceptual resource for BES III has recently appeared online. This publication presents the feedback cycle between social and ecological structures and functions as mediated by ecosystem services and by press and pulse events. This conceptual framework highlights that the dynamics of press and pulse events is a key link in the integration of […]