ABSTRACT

Anthropocentrism, where humans are central, is a natural human viewpoint, but a threat to objective ecological study. Human population, resource use and resource expectations are expanding, turning our ecological footprint into a deep rut. We believe that, while many studies deal with the consequences of human effects on ecosystems, the outcomes are viewed as if humans were observers rather than participants in ecosystems.

Humans are the apex animal, manipulating most ecosystems with forestry, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and urbanisation: we engineer the landscape, the air, the water and even the climate. In many situations, humans are also the top predator, killing both our competitive mesopredators and their herbivorous prey. Leaving the top predator out of models reduces the alternative hypotheses and imposes directional bias on the responses of subordinate trophic levels. Our objective here is to discuss the roles of the human in the room and the consequences of ignoring them when designing experiments, proposing explanatory models and interpreting studies.

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