The Web of Life: How Behaviour Links Soil and Plants with Herbivores and Humans

We will explore how behavior links the health of soil, plants, herbivores, and humans. Resource availability – water, nutrients, sunlight — influences the species and behaviors of organisms that live in soil, which affects the varieties, chemical characteristics, and behaviors of plants. Plants are the glue that binds ecosystems together; without plants, there would be no life below or above ground.

Soil and plants, in turn, affect the nutrition and health of herbivores. Ultimately, the health and wellbeing of people is linked with the health of soil through plants and herbivores. We will also discuss what it means for people as landscapes ever transform ecologically, economically, and culturally. The emerging field of epigenetics, which highlights how experiences with social and biophysical environments influence gene expression, is changing static view of evolution based on natural selection of beneficial mutations, a process that occurs over millennia, to one that is dynamic and ongoing within the lifetime of the individual and across generations in populations. The issue isn’t if biophysical environments are transforming, they do so incessantly and remorselessly. The only question is if want to be creatively engaged in these processes.

From life in soil to plants and animals including people, vitality comes when creatures participate in creating their way in the moment. Appreciating and embracing the importance and inevitability of transformation alters peoples’ philosophies and practices from rigid, unyielding, and stressful to fluid, malleable, and invigorating. We no longer view creatures, including ourselves, as machines and genes as destiny. Rather, we grasp how to use behavioral interrelationships to create an array of solutions to the challenges and opportunities people face as they embrace change.

Unlike costly infrastructures such as corrals and fences, understanding and implementing behavioral principles and processes costs little because they don’t depend on fossil-fuels. It’s what’s in our brains, not what’s in our pocketbooks, that counts. Once people grasp and use behavioral principles on landscapes, they create practices that are innovative, inclusive, and self-transforming.

Intensive Livestock
Location: Belleville Room Date: December 3, 2019 Time: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm Fred Provenza