Species sense, bionomy, and sustainability

14-fun-facts-about-dragonflies-1930-1321.jpg__800x600_q85_cropKD Dijkstra’s thought-provoking essay in Nature (citation below) is well-worth a read.  He argues that we — and most alarmingly, most professional biologists — have lost ‘species sense,’ focusing instead on functional aspects of life and the biosphere.  He describes biodiversity as the embodiment of sustainability, implying that our stated commitment to a sustainable future is inconsistent with our exploration and knowledge of its best prospects.  Because taxonomy and natural history as terms have been maligned as being old-fashioned and anachronistic, KD suggests in their place resurrecting Haeckel’s term bionomy.  If a new term would accelerate return of support for natural history I would be on board, but there is something deeper at work here.  Astronomy, for example, is a similarly old term and discipline seen as modern and respected.  That something deeper has more to do with the loss of what KD describes as species sense.  It is time that we come to our species senses before it is too late.

Dijkstra named a new species of Dragonfly to honor Sir David Attenborough on his 90th birthday, prompting his reflections on its broader context and what Attenborough has given to us through his remarkable career:

http://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/1.19870!/menu/main/topColumns/topLeftColumn/pdf/533172a.pdf

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About qdwheeler

Quentin Wheeler is the 4th president of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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