Sustainability: Empirical Examples and Management Implications
Charles W. Fowler, Jason D. Baker, Kim E.W. Shelden, Paul R. Wade, Douglas P. DeMaster, and Roderick C. Hobbs
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Management in regard to ecosystems must meet a number of criteria. As indicated in Table 1, such management must: (1) be consistent with management in respect to other biological systems; (2) account for reality, including uncertainty; (3) result in components of each level of biological organization falling within normal ranges of natural variation; (4) exercise precaution and consider risk in achieving sustainability; (5) be information-
based and interdisciplinary; (6) include monitoring and assessment; (7) have clear objectives; (8) recognize that our ability to control is limited to managing human activity; and (9) consider humans as part of ecosystems.
Management to meet these requirements can be guided by empirical examples of sustainability demonstrated by other species. An example is consumption of resources within ecosystems by predators. Limits to sustainability are demonstrated by frequency distributions of consumption rates observed among predators. These empirical examples are the result of a variety of influences and constraints, including processes of natural selection resulting from exposure to the suite of factors we wish to account for in management. In this paper, the consumption by marine vertebrates is presented to empirically exemplify sustainable resource consumption from both ecosystems and individual species.
The implications of empirical examples of sustainability for management are emphasized by the central tendencies in frequency distributions among species. The lack of consumption rates beyond the tails of observed distributions indicates that consumption rates in these two extremes are not sustainable over long time scales.
- Item number: AK-SG-99-01w
- Year: 1999
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.4027/eafm.1999.23