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Ecology in Times of Scarcity

In an energy-scarce future, ecosystem services will become more important in supporting the human economy. The primary role of ecology will be the sustainable management of ecosystems. Energy scarcity will affect ecology in a number of ways. Ecology will become more expensive, which will be justified by its help in solving societal problems, especially in maintaining ecosystem services. Applied research on highly productive ecosystems, including agroecosystems, will dominate ecology. Ecology may become less collegial and more competitive. Biodiversity preservation will be closely tied to preservation of productive ecosystems and provision of high ecosystem services. Restoration and management of rich natural ecosystems will be as important as protection of existing wild areas. Energy-intensive micromanagement of ecosystems will become less feasible. Ecotechnology and, more specifically, ecological engineering and self-design are appropriate bases for sustainable ecosystem management. We use the Mississippi River basin as a case study for ecology in times of scarcity.

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