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CEFISES Seminar: Robert Frühstückl, “Defending a multidimensional concept of biodiversity: consequences for theory and conservation”
March 3@14:00-16:00 CET
Speaker: Robert Frühstückl (Universität Bielefeld)
Title: “Defending a multidimensional concept of biodiversity: consequences for theory and conservation.”
The concept of “biodiversity” is intended to fulfill several desiderata, such as (1) biodiversity should be operationalizable; (2) it should denote a causally salientproperty of ecological systems; and (3) the concept should facilitate prioritization in conservation, i.e., it should denote valuable properties of natural systems and allow cross-comparisons among different ecological systems. Critics of the concept have pointed out that it is difficult for a definition of biodiversity to satisfy all of these desiderata simultaneously, which has even led to the view that the concept should be eliminated from conservation biology altogether.
In this talk, I want to counter biodiversity eliminativism by arguing that we should abandon the priority desideratum. While we keep the view that biodiversity is a measurable and causally salient property, we must also recognize that ecological systems can exhibit variability in multiple ways and that understanding this diversity is critical for both scientific and practical reasons. Viewing biodiversity in this way has at least three advantages: First, it helps us avoid conflating semantic meaning with normativity, a persistent problem in biodiversity discourse. Second, it is much more consistent with the scientific study of the multiple dimensions of biodiversity change (phylogenetic, functional, taxonomic, genetic) in ecology. Third, it supports more ambitious conservation programs that call for explicit recognition of several dimensions of biodiversity, rather than relying on all-purpose surrogates to achieve relevant conservation goals.