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Concept: Aldo Leopold


Flowering times are well-documented indicators of the ecological effects of climate change and are linked to numerous ecosystem processes and trophic interactions. Dozens of studies have shown that flowering times for many spring-flowering plants have become earlier as a result of recent climate change, but it is uncertain if flowering times will continue to advance as temperatures rise. Here, we used long-term flowering records initiated by Henry David Thoreau in 1852 and Aldo Leopold in 1935 to investigate this question. Our analyses demonstrate that record-breaking spring temperatures in 2010 and 2012 in Massachusetts, USA, and 2012 in Wisconsin, USA, resulted in the earliest flowering times in recorded history for dozens of spring-flowering plants of the eastern United States. These dramatic advances in spring flowering were successfully predicted by historical relationships between flowering and spring temperature spanning up to 161 years of ecological change. These results demonstrate that numerous temperate plant species have yet to show obvious signs of physiological constraints on phenological advancement in the face of climate change.

Concepts: United States, Climate, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold


The hope for creating widespread change in social values has endured among conservation professionals since early calls by Aldo Leopold for a “Land Ethic”. However, there has been little serious attention in conservation to the fields of investigation that address values, how they are formed, and how they change. We introduce a social-ecological systems approach in which values are seen not just as motivational goals that people hold, but they are also deeply embedded in the world around us, in our material culture, collective behaviors, traditions, and social institutions. They are important concepts that define and bind groups, organizations, and societies. Values have emerged to serve an adaptive role and are typically stable across generations. When abrupt change does occur, it is in response to substantial alterations in the social-ecological context. Change builds upon prior value structures and does not result in complete replacement. Given this understanding of values, we conclude that deliberate efforts to orchestrate value shift for conservation are unlikely to be effective. Instead, there is an urgent need for research on values with a multi-level and dynamic view that can inform innovative conservation strategies for working within existing value structures. This paper identifies key questions that will enhance our understanding of the role that values play in shaping conservation challenges and improve our ability to manage the human component of conservation practice. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Sociology, Culture, Philosophy of life, Morality, All rights reserved, Copyright, Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac