Ecological health indicators

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Abstract

Contemporary policymakers rarely stress ecological knowledge, and yet this knowledge remains crucial—just as it was in prehistory—to protecting overall human well-being. Measuring carefully selected ecological health indicators—that is, signs or symptoms, especially those focused on biotic assemblages—can provide insights into the ecological condition of a place and the variety of ecological consequences of proposed or present human actions there. In turn, measured ecological conditions may be judged as acceptable (healthy) or unacceptable (unhealthy), depending on prevailing value systems and societal goals. Ecological health indicators characterize the ecological conditions of where we live; improve scientific understanding of ecosystems and the benefits they provide; diagnose causes of ecological degradation; communicate scientific knowledge to nontechnical audiences; guide environmental policy; and measure progress toward societal goals. By helping to identify who benefits and who suffers from societal choices, ecological health indicators inform our choices about how to use or protect ecosystems and their living components, including human society itself.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Ecological health indicators
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.10926-1
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 11 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Encyclopedia of Ecology
First page 391
Last page 401