The next generation of action ecology: novel approaches towards global ecological research

White, Rachel L., Sutton, Alexandra E., Salguero-Gomez, Roberto, Bray, Timothy C., Campbell, Heather, Cieraad, Ellen, Geekiyanage, Nalaka, Gherardi, Laureano, Hughes, Alice C., Jorgensen, Peter Sogaard, Poisot, Timothee, DeSoto, Lucia and Zimmerman, Naupaka (2015) The next generation of action ecology: novel approaches towards global ecological research. Ecosphere, 6 8: 1-16. doi:10.1890/ES14-00485.1

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Author White, Rachel L.
Sutton, Alexandra E.
Salguero-Gomez, Roberto
Bray, Timothy C.
Campbell, Heather
Cieraad, Ellen
Geekiyanage, Nalaka
Gherardi, Laureano
Hughes, Alice C.
Jorgensen, Peter Sogaard
Poisot, Timothee
DeSoto, Lucia
Zimmerman, Naupaka
Title The next generation of action ecology: novel approaches towards global ecological research
Journal name Ecosphere   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2150-8925
Publication date 2015-08-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/ES14-00485.1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 6
Issue 8
Start page 1
End page 16
Total pages 16
Place of publication Washington, DC United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Language eng
Subject 1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
2303 Ecology
Abstract Advances in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge over the last decade have dramatically reshaped the way that ecological research is conducted. The advent of large, technologybased resources such as iNaturalist, Genbank, or the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) allow ecologists to work at spatio-temporal scales previously unimaginable. This has generated a new approach in ecological research: one that relies on large datasets and rapid synthesis for theory testing and development, and findings that provide specific recommendations to policymakers and managers. This new approach has been termed action ecology, and here we aim to expand on earlier definitions to delineate its characteristics so as to distinguish it from related subfields in applied ecology and ecological management. Our new, more nuanced definition describes action ecology as ecological research that is (1) explicitly motivated by the need for immediate insights into current, pressing problems, (2) collaborative and transdisciplinary, incorporating sociological in addition to ecological considerations throughout all steps of the research, (3) technology-mediated, innovative, and aggregative (i.e., reliant on 'big data'), and (4) designed and disseminated with the intention to inform policy and management. We provide tangible examples of existing work in the domain of action ecology, and offer suggestions for its implementation and future growth, with explicit recommendations for individuals, research institutions, and ecological societies.
Formatted abstract
Advances in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge over the last decade have dramatically reshaped the way that ecological research is conducted. The advent of large, technology-based resources such as iNaturalist, Genbank, or the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) allow ecologists to work at spatio-temporal scales previously unimaginable. This has generated a new approach in ecological research: one that relies on large datasets and rapid synthesis for theory testing and development, and findings that provide specific recommendations to policymakers and managers. This new approach has been termed action ecology, and here we aim to expand on earlier definitions to delineate its characteristics so as to distinguish it from related subfields in applied ecology and ecological management. Our new, more nuanced definition describes action ecology as ecological research that is (1) explicitly motivated by the need for immediate insights into current, pressing problems, (2) collaborative and transdisciplinary, incorporating sociological in addition to ecological considerations throughout all steps of the research, (3) technology-mediated, innovative, and aggregative (i.e., reliant on ‘big data'), and (4) designed and disseminated with the intention to inform policy and management. We provide tangible examples of existing work in the domain of action ecology, and offer suggestions for its implementation and future growth, with explicit recommendations for individuals, research institutions, and ecological societies.
Keyword Action ecology
Applied ecology
Big data
Citizen science
Environmental leadership
Environmental management
ESA Centennial Paper
Planetary stewardship
Training
Transdisciplinary
Translational ecology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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