The macroecology of sustainability

Joseph R. Burger, Craig D. Allen, James H. Brown, William R. Burnside, Ana D. Davidson, Trevor S. Fristoe, Marcus J. Hamilton, Norman Mercado-Silva, Jeffrey C. Nekola, Jordan Okie, Wenyun Zuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The discipline of sustainability science has emerged in response to concerns of natural and social scientists, policymakers, and lay people about whether the Earth can continue to support human population growth and economic prosperity. Yet, sustainability science has developed largely independently from and with little reference to key ecological principles that govern life on Earth. A macroecological perspective highlights three principles that should be integral to sustainability science: 1) physical conservation laws govern the flows of energy and materials between human systems and the environment, 2) smaller systems are connected by these flows to larger systems in which they are embedded, and 3) global constraints ultimately limit flows at smaller scales. Over the past few decades, decreasing per capita rates of consumption of petroleum, phosphate, agricultural land, fresh water, fish, and wood indicate that the growing human population has surpassed the capacity of the Earth to supply enough of these essential resources to sustain even the current population and level of socioeconomic development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001345
JournalPLoS Biology
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

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sustainability science and engineering
Sustainable development
Earth (planet)
ecology
human population
Natural Science Disciplines
socioeconomic development
energy flow
Population Growth
Petroleum
Fresh Water
petroleum
freshwater fish
Fish
Population
agricultural land
Conservation
population growth
Wood
Fishes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Burger, J. R., Allen, C. D., Brown, J. H., Burnside, W. R., Davidson, A. D., Fristoe, T. S., ... Zuo, W. (2012). The macroecology of sustainability. PLoS Biology, 10(6), [e1001345]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001345

The macroecology of sustainability. / Burger, Joseph R.; Allen, Craig D.; Brown, James H.; Burnside, William R.; Davidson, Ana D.; Fristoe, Trevor S.; Hamilton, Marcus J.; Mercado-Silva, Norman; Nekola, Jeffrey C.; Okie, Jordan; Zuo, Wenyun.

In: PLoS Biology, Vol. 10, No. 6, e1001345, 01.06.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Burger, JR, Allen, CD, Brown, JH, Burnside, WR, Davidson, AD, Fristoe, TS, Hamilton, MJ, Mercado-Silva, N, Nekola, JC, Okie, J & Zuo, W 2012, 'The macroecology of sustainability', PLoS Biology, vol. 10, no. 6, e1001345. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001345
Burger JR, Allen CD, Brown JH, Burnside WR, Davidson AD, Fristoe TS et al. The macroecology of sustainability. PLoS Biology. 2012 Jun 1;10(6). e1001345. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001345
Burger, Joseph R. ; Allen, Craig D. ; Brown, James H. ; Burnside, William R. ; Davidson, Ana D. ; Fristoe, Trevor S. ; Hamilton, Marcus J. ; Mercado-Silva, Norman ; Nekola, Jeffrey C. ; Okie, Jordan ; Zuo, Wenyun. / The macroecology of sustainability. In: PLoS Biology. 2012 ; Vol. 10, No. 6.
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