We live in a dynamic and chaotic period of history, we are undergoing gigantic social upheavals that are affecting every aspect of life. We live in societies where information has become the currency upon which all transactions take place. Economic, philosophical, political, social, scientific, military/industrial, and technological barriers are being passed every day. In the place of the old forms of organization are being created new forms of association in which national, political or religious boundaries have become increasingly irrelevant.
Attendant on and feeding this social upheaval is the gradual reunification of science. The computer age and the networking of all kinds of knowledge has served to distribute ideas so well that patterns are being seen in the world around us that have never been noticed before. These ideas are fundamental to many areas of inquiry, both in the humanities and sciences. Are we gaining a new common language and perspective from which to view the human and natural world? If so then it will changing society in many ways.
The changes that are affecting us pose great problems that we must overcome. Science has never been a morally fervent area, and the information age boosts its power. There may be no end to the destruction that it could yield in the wrong hands. Business and finance have changed in the last few years. With the networking of banking systems money has become more difficult to control. Irresponsible or downright fraudulent banking can change whole world economies in the space of a day.
Anthropologists are showing that throughout history we have been at the mercy of powers that are beyond our control. Whole societies have risen and fallen at their bidding. Little wonder then that governments are now employing chaos theoreticians and futurologists (people who were once regarded as cranks) to help them predict what kinds of changes are going to occur and how to make contingency plans for the days when they lose control.
These changes are now recognized by science because of a new way of looking at the world. Previously they had been literally blind to the dynamics of social change, preferring to regard society as if were a kind of classical thermodynamic system where all social changes that take place are canceled out by all of the others. Economists are being forced to admit that when an economic strategy backfires to the tune of billions of pounds there must be something seriously wrong with theory! Society is not a linear system, it is powerfully non linear.
A reunification of science promises to help us understand and live with the increased pace of change, even if it cannot help us predict it too well. This fabulous new movement in science has occurred in the last 30 years and is the result of many factors. I will be discussing them in this dissertation. I will also be trying to trace some of their philosophical and scientific roots. The cornerstone to the new scientific revolution is a simple idea which is very easy to grasp - Feedback.
While numerous studies have documented the relationships among bird communities and gradients of vegetation structure and composition, there is still little information regarding specific fine scale habitat associations of bird species over large areas of managed forests. Furthermore, the utility of satellite imagery for identifying influential factors on bird species occurrences and richness is rarely considered during field data collection. As part of a multidisciplinary partnership, I investigated landscape patterns of bird species occurrences and richness over a ∼400,000 ha forested region of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Small sampling plots comparable in size to pixels of Landsat 7 ETM+ imagery (30 meter radius, n = 433) were surveyed for birds, vegetation and land cover. Bird data were also collected using 50m, 100m and unlimited distance thresholds. Landsat 7 ETM+ imagery was used to investigate spectral relationships among the data.
Several vegetation variables describing northern hardwood stands had significant independent contributions to the occurrences of 4 bird species. Some variables had both positive and negative relationships, indicating that horizontal and vertical diversity within northern hardwood stands need to be an important consideration during forest management activities. In contrast, bird species richness across the study region was highest when small areas contained large proportions of the same land cover types that dominated their surroundings. This relationship was detected through a spatially variable association between bird species richness, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and land cover types. Avian species richness estimates varied spatially in relation to NDVI and the proportion of non-deciduous land cover pixels surrounding each plot influenced the relationship. However, NDVI values were positively dependent on the proportion of deciduous forest within them. Species richness was therefore highest in deciduous forests within regions dominated by deciduous forest and the relationship was reversed in regions dominated by non-deciduous forest.I also investigated the potential of using unclassified spectral information for predicting the distribution of three bird species. Accuracy statistics for each species were affected in different ways by the detection thresholds of point count surveys used to stratify plots into presence and absence classes and window sizes used in spectral signature development. Comparisons with rule-based maps created using the approach of Gap Analysis showed that spectral information predicted the occurrences of the investigated species better than could be done using known land cover associations.