Research Summaries

Crifasi, R. R. 2005.
Reflections in a stock pond: are anthropogenically derived freshwater ecosystems natural, artificial, or something else? Environmental Management 36: 525-539.

For millennia, people have altered freshwater ecosystems directly through water development and indirectly by global change and surrounding land-use activities. In these altered ecosystems, human impacts can be subtle and are sometimes overlooked by the people who manage them. This article provides two case studies near Boulder, Colorado that demonstrate how perceptions regarding these ecosystems affect their management. These examples are typical of lakes and streams along the Front Range of Colorado that are simultaneously natural and social in origin. Although natural, many of the regions freshwater ecosystems are affected by ongoing ecologic, hydrologic, chemical, and geomorphic modifications produced by human activity. People and nature are both active participants in the production of these freshwater ecosystems. The concept of “hybridity,” borrowed from geographers and social scientists, is useful for describing landscapes of natural and social origin. Hybrid freshwater ecosystems are features of the humanized landscape and are derived from deliberate cultural activities, nonhuman physical and biological processes, and incidental anthropogenic disturbance. Our perceptions of “natural” fresh.water ecosystems and what definitions we use to describe them influences our view of hybrid systems and, in turn, affects management decisions regarding them. This work stresses the importance of understanding the underlying societal forces and cultural values responsible for the creation of hybrid freshwater ecosystems as a central step in their conservation and management.