Use of macroecology to integrate social justice and conservation

Authors: Erica Fleishman, Holly Brown

Both conservation biology and macroecology are synthetic, and macroecological research consistently has informed the theory and practice of biological conservation. Explicit integration of the macroecology of human systems and natural systems has been rare, but can advance the incorporation of social justice, environmental justice and environmental equity into conservation biology and participatory conservation (inclusion in decision‐making of those who are affected by, or can affect, that decision). The basis of this strong link is the focus of macroecology on the relations of a given biota to environmental patterns and processes, and these patterns and processes can affect humans differentially. Macroecological integration of social justice and conservation generally requires spatial and temporal representation of all variables at resolutions and extents that allow meaningful analyses. This requirement may facilitate clarity about social metrics and norms. To illustrate, we examine applications of macroecology to analysis of the effects of climate change on social justice and biological conservation; relations among climate, violence among humans and conservation; and the response of the spread of disease to social and ecological factors. We believe that macroecology is a means of providing transparent inferences that can inform conservation, health and social policies.

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