Video: Where do humans fit in the ecosystem?

In their studies of humans and the ecosystem, researchers from the Santa Fe Institute looked at 700 years of Ancestral Pueblo people in the Southwestern United States. ©J. Phillip Krone

At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington last Sunday, a group of cross-disciplinary scientists from the Santa Fe Institute presented their investigations into how humans interacted with their ecosystems in various cultures around the world. They looked at pre-industrial societies in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska the Ancestral Pueblo communities of the Southwest and the Western Desert of Australia, and modern systems in Portugal’s Tagus Estuary. “Understanding ecosystems with humans as part of them is essential,” archaeologist Stefani Crabtree says. “We’re not going anywhere. We are here to stay. We are going to keep impacting ecosystems, and we need to understand the ways that our impacts can lead to more sustainable and resilient systems.”

For more on their studies, watch the video here.