People, Plants, and Pollinators: The Conservation of Beargrass Ecosystem Diversity in the Western United States


Biodiversity conservation often focuses on strategies that aim to protect a species from extinction and to preserve its functional role within an ecosystem. In this chapter we adopt a broader view of conserving biodiversity that calls for conservation of the ecological and social roles of a species within an ecosystem, which we understand to include humans. Viewed as such, biodiversity conservation entails sustaining ecosystem diversity to support both a species and the web of interdependent social and ecological relations in which it is embedded. Hence, if one component of the ecosystem diversity associated with a species is threatened, conservation interventions may be warranted, even if the species itself is not (yet) threatened or endangered. Thus, biodiversity conservation is not only about preventing the extinction of a species, but also about preserving the diversity of its functional roles – both ecological and social – to sustain biocultural diversity.

Provenance: Contributed to Sipnuuk Food Security Collection by Arielle Halpern, doctoral student in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, in association with research for her dissertation-in-progress: Effects of Prescribed Fire on Tanoak Associated Plant Assemblages and Karuk Cultural Use Species