Advances in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge over the last decade have
dramatically reshaped the way that ecological research is conducted. The advent of large, technologybased
resources such as iNaturalist, Genbank, or the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) allow
ecologists to work at spatio-temporal scales previously unimaginable. This has generated a new approach
in ecological research: one that relies on large datasets and rapid synthesis for theory testing and
development, and findings that provide specific recommendations to policymakers and managers. This
new approach has been termed action ecology, and here we aim to expand on earlier definitions to delineate
its characteristics so as to distinguish it from related subfields in applied ecology and ecological
management. Our new, more nuanced definition describes action ecology as ecological research that is (1)
explicitly motivated by the need for immediate insights into current, pressing problems, (2) collaborative
and transdisciplinary, incorporating sociological in addition to ecological considerations throughout all
steps of the research, (3) technology-mediated, innovative, and aggregative (i.e., reliant on ‘big data’), and
(4) designed and disseminated with the intention to inform policy and management. We provide tangible
examples of existing work in the domain of action ecology, and offer suggestions for its implementation
and future growth, with explicit recommendations for individuals, research institutions, and ecological
This paper was commissioned by the members of the Ecosphere Editorial Board to commemorate the ESA
Semantic heterogeneity hampers efforts to find, integrate, analyse and interpret ecological data. An application case-study is described, in which the objective was to automate the integration and interpretation of ...
Harper, Sally Anne(University of Pretoria, 2008-12-22)
This study assumes, rather than debates, that there is an increasingly global environmental crisis – global warming, loss of ozone layer, biodiversity loss, deforestation and desertification, natural resource depletion, ...
Durant, Valerie A(University of Pretoria, 2013-08-06)
Current global agricultural practices are recognized as unsustainable. The increase in overall human population as well as the global trend of rural to urban migration, partially as a result of historically and continual ...