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Acknowledging long-term ecological change: the problem of shifting baselines

Klein, Emily S. and Thurstan, Ruth H. 2016, Acknowledging long-term ecological change: the problem of shifting baselinesPerspectives on oceans past : a handbook of marine environmental history, Springer, Dordrecht, Switzerland, pp.11-29, doi: 10.1007/978-94-017-7496-3_2.

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Title Acknowledging long-term ecological change: the problem of shifting baselines
Author(s) Klein, Emily S.
Thurstan, Ruth H.ORCID iD for Thurstan, Ruth H.
Title of book Perspectives on oceans past : a handbook of marine environmental history
Publication date 2016
Chapter number 2
Total chapters 11
Start page 11
End page 29
Total pages 19
Publisher Springer
Place of Publication Dordrecht, Switzerland
Summary Shifting baselines describes the phenomenon where long-term changes to an environment go unrecognized because what is perceived as natural shifts with succeeding generations of scientists and other observers. This is a particular problem for the oceans because we are rarely able to directly observe the consequences of human activities. In the absence of data to track these consequences, a common assumption has been that the communities we observe today using SCUBA or other technology, are similar to the communities that existed 10, 100, or even 1000 years ago. Research is increasingly demonstrating this is not the case. Instead, marine ecosystems may have been vastly different in the past, and we have succumbed to the shifting baselines syndrome. This has significant implications for scientific study, management, and for human communities more broadly. We discuss these implications, and how we might address the shifting baseline syndrome in the oceans to confront its repercussions. In a world where environmental degradation is accelerating, doing so is critical to avoid further ratcheting down of our expectations of ecosystem health and productivity, and to ensure that we have the information necessary to implement appropriate recovery and management goals.
ISBN 9789401774963
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-7496-3_2
Field of Research 050203 Environmental Education and Extension
060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category B1 Book chapter
ERA Research output type B Book chapter
Copyright notice ©2016, Springer Science+Business Media
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Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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