Defining nature. Competing perspectives: between nativism and ecological novelty

Mark Davis


In the 1980s, three sub-disciplines of ecology emerged – restoration ecology, conservation biology, and invasion biology – and all three embraced the nativism paradigm. By the early 2000s, historians, sociologists, and philosophers interested in the development of science began to examine the growing field of invasion biology and usually were critical of it. In the past few years, a new perspective has been taking hold in the field of ecology. Referred to as ecological novelty it emphasizes that many factors are producing ecologically novel environments. A much more simply descriptive concept, it is currently competing with the nativism paradigm to define nature. Whether the nativism or ecological novelty paradigm emerges as the dominant perspective going forward will determine how nature and biodiversity are managed.


nativism; ecological novelty; nature; nonnative species; invasion biology

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