ISHPSSB 2001 || Quinnipiac University, July 18-22, 2001

Conservation I: Biodiversity, the Very Idea

The biodiversity concept integrates so many facets of life on earth that it may well serve as the locus of the next great synthesis in biology. Ironically, this achievement may coincide with the greatest loss of its subject matter in tens of millions of years, making biodiversity also the most salient moral issue of the 21st century. These sessions address the nature of biodiversity and its conservation. Part I examines the sometimes problematic notion of biodiversity. Part II focuses on how to operationalize the biodiversity concept in designing nature reserves and park systems. Part III addresses several "internal" questions about the relevance of biodiversity and its measures.

Organizer and Chair: Gregory M. Mikkelson, Rice University

David Roche, University of Sydney
"A Metaphysically Robust Concept of Biodiversity"
To overcome the limitations of existing biodiversity concepts, a new concept of 'biocomplexity' is proposed. This concept equates the biodiversity of any biological system with its effective complexity. Biocom-plexity is shown to be the only feasible measure of biodiversity that captures the essential features desired of a general biodiversity concept. In particular, it is a well-defined, measurable and strongly intrinsic property of any biological system.

James Maclaurin, University of Otago
"Understanding Diversity in Biology"
A variety of projects in the biological sciences make use of problematic notions of the diversity of living systems. These are best described by example and include claims about biodiversity and conservation, claims about the way in which taxonomy ought to reflect diversity, and claims about macroevolutionary trends regarding biological disparity. Each of these cases has given rise to debate as to how we should characterise the diversity in question, whether it is a real property and whether it is a single property as opposed to a conglomerate of properties, which we just lump under a term such as 'biodiversity'. This paper asks what such 'difficult cases' have in common and offers suggestions as to how we might disambiguate such theoretical issues.

Uta Eser, UniversitĒt Tuebingen
"The Politics of Biodiversity: How Scientists and Citizens Shape a New Concept of Nature"
Although 'biodiversity' widely enjoys the reputation of a "Scientific" concept there is much more to it. The scientific rhetoric dominating the biodiversity discourse tends to conceal economic, social and cultural interests that also shaped the politics of biodiversity. I therefore suggest to interpret Žbiodiversity' as boundary concept that not simply refers to a quality of nature "out there" but is the product of negotiation processes between different actors with different agendas. This approach will allow to ask for the diverse interests that are satisfied by a politics of (bio)diversity. A broader discussion of the multiple social, political and economic contexts of Žbiodiversity' will enable us to understand its meaning and implications more appropriately.

Irama Nunez & Ana Barahona, Universidad Nacional AutŘnoma de M»xico
"Biodiversity in the Context of Environmental Communication in M»xico"
A first look to our working field reveals that messages and campaigns conveyed in mass media dealing with biodiversity issues failed to perform a different relationship between society and the environment. Such situation points out that this information lacks, on the one hand of scientific basis and on the other, of an adequate pedagogical approach. Thus, from this perspective, if different sectors of society may construct public understanding about this issue through different mass media, the level of attitudes and the change in behaviours and values will be more effective in the challenge to perform changing existing attitudes as well as on the participation of people in several actions related to diminish environmental problems which have an affect on biodiversity in M»xico.
It is argued in this paper that there are a great deal of possible meanings and contexts of biodiversity depending upon different authors, so one of the objectives is to perform an historical and epistemological analysis of the meanings of biodiversity concept and how the significance has changed from its introduction in 1985. There are also some essential characteristics to be considered and included in the definition of the concept, in order to obtain a better comprehension of the subject.
Information about the trends in mass media coverage of environmental issues was obtained through content analysis of two study cases, "Los salitrales de San Ignacio en Baja California Sur" and "The transgenics in M»xico", with special attention to corn. The results of the analysis of mass media coverage will support the development and working up of environmental communication strategies in which biodiversity is the central subject.
On account of the importance of biodiversity and the knowledge and diffusion through different mass media to several social actors, we develop this investigation project, so long as there are few studies which includes an historical and epistemological analysis of the concept as well as of the content and context of messages published in several newspapers in M»xico.

Conservation II: Framing Parks and Reserves Policy || Conservation III: Problems and Strategies


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