Biocomplexity and Conservation of Biodiversity Hotspots: Three Case Studies from the Americas


Callicott, J. Baird; Rozzi, Ricardo; Delgado, Luz; Monticino, Michael; Acevedo, Miguel; Harcombe, Paul

Journal or Book Title: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences

Keywords: Biocomplexity; Biodiversity; Climate; Conservation; Horns; Hot spots; River basins

Volume/Issue: 362/1478

Page Number(s): 321-333

Year Published: 2007


The perspective of biocomplexity in the form of coupled natural and human systems represents a resource for the future conservation of biodiversity hotspots in three direct ways: (i) modelling the impact on biodiversity of private land-use decisions and public land-use policies, (ii) indicating how the biocultural history of a biodiversity hotspot may be a resource for its future conservation, and (iii) identifying and deploying the nodes of both the material and psycho-spiritual connectivity between human and natural systems in service to conservation goals. Three biocomplexity case studies of areas notable for their biodiversity, selected for their variability along a latitudinal climate gradient and a human-impact gradient, are developed: the Big Thicket in southeast Texas, the Upper Botanamo River Basin in eastern Venezuela, and the Cape Horn Archipelago at the austral tip of Chile. More deeply, the biocomplexity perspective reveals alternative ways of understanding biodiversity itself, because it directs attention to the human concepts through which biodiversity is perceived and understood. The very meaning of biodiversity is contestable and varies according to the cognitive lenses through which it is perceived.

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2006.1989

Type of Publication: Journal Article