What is translational ecology?

Community member post by Translational Ecology Group

translational-ecology-group
Translational Ecology Group (participants)

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Four related blog posts on translational ecology:

Introduction to translational ecology (this post)

What makes a translational ecologist – Part 1: Knowledge  / Part 2: Skills / Part 3: Dispositional attributes

The term ‘translational ecology’ was coined by eminent natural scientist William Schlesinger in a 2010 editorial in Science magazine. He wrote, “Just as physicians use ‘translational medicine’ to connect the patient to new basic research, ‘translational ecology’ should connect end-users of environmental science to the field research carried out by scientists who study the basis of environmental problems.”

Further, Schlesinger posited that without such communication, ecological discoveries “will remain quietly archived while the biosphere degrades.” The editorial chafed some ecologists whose work is motivated by increasing our understanding of natural systems. Others, however, were inspired by this call to action and sought ways to (re)orient their careers from inquiry toward impact.

Our group, which includes natural and social scientists, educators, and practitioners from both academic and non-academic institutions, expanded Schlesinger’s vision of “two-way communication between stakeholders and scientists.” Continue reading