It’s easy to feel disconnected to nature when you spend all day in an office or lab and don’t leave until it’s dark. Today was another one of those days. I was inside all day, and yet, nature infiltrated those hours. I had a tasty peach during lunch thanks to pollinators. I drank lots of water thanks to clean waterways. I worked on a wooden desk thanks to timber-supplying forests. These types of resources that ecosystems provide humans are called ecosystem services or nature’s benefits. Other ecosystem services include carbon sequestration, medicine, minerals, waste decomposition, and recreational opportunities, like hiking.
In September I had the privilege of going to the “Third Conference for Sustainability IGERTs on Ecosystem Services for Sustainability.” Many people at the conference, including myself, were interested in how humans interact with their environment, and how we can conserve nature and sustain the benefits that nature provides us.
What was really neat about the conference was that, in true IGERT-style, there were fellows representing a range of disciplines. Ecologists, environmental psychologists, economists, earth scientists, geographers, and sociologists had various viewpoints about how ecosystem services were to be analyzed and valued. We spent a large amount of time work-shopping these ideas and talked about how we should communicate these ideas to the public.
I also presented my work on arctic pollination, which all of my fellow cohort members helped with. In short, I found that the national flower of Greenland, niviarsiaq, greatly depends on pollinators to produce seeds. My poster is below.
I would encourage everyone to attend a topic-based conference, like this ecosystem services conference, in addition to attending conferences based in your disciplines. It was productive and an excellent opportunity to discuss the values and challenges of interdisciplinary work.