Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)

River doctors: Learning from medicine to improve ecosystem management

31 August, 2017

Elosegi A, Gessner MO, Young RG 2017. River doctors: Learning from medicine to improve ecosystem management. Science of The Total Environment 595: 294-302.

DOI link here


Effective ecosystem management requires a robust methodology to analyse, remedy and avoid ecosystem damage. Here we propose that the overall conceptual framework and approaches developed over millennia in medical science and practice to diagnose, cure and prevent disease can provide an excellent template. Key principles to adopt include combining well-established assessment methods with new analytical techniques and restricting both diagnosis and treatment to qualified personnel at various levels of specialization, in addition to striving for a better mechanistic understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning, as well as identifying the proximate and ultimate causes of ecosystem impairment. In addition to applying these principles, ecosystem management would much benefit from systematically embracing how medical doctors approach and interview patients, diagnose health condition, select treatments, take follow-up measures, and prevent illness. Here we translate the overall conceptual framework from medicine into environmental terms and illustrate with examples from rivers how the systematic adoption of the individual steps proven and tested in medical practice can improve ecosystem management.