Studying the Effects of Exploitation

The effects of exploitation can be studied much like any other ecological factor by means of observation, natural experiment, and manipulative experiment. There is a long history of manipulating exploited populations with the goal of determining sustainable levels of harvest. This is often done by applying varying exploitation pressure, observing the population's responses, and subsequent population modeling. There is a rich literature on this topic in fisheries and forestry science that has led to a large body of population dynamics theory. Recently, however, it has been argued that such a single-population approach is too limited, as it tends to ignore the broader ecosystem effects of exploitation, which are discussed above.

Studying and understanding the full impacts of exploitation has been hampered by the shifting baseline syndrome. This refers to the loss of information about what is natural and the arbitrary setting of baselines based on personal experience and available data. Surveys have shown that people often forget about environmental changes within less than a generation. Without a proper baseline, however, we cannot begin to assess the extent of changes brought about by exploitation and other long-term ecological drivers. Therefore, the effects of exploitation

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