Hawaiian God Soils and Society in the Hawaiin Ecosystem  

Study Areas

Prior NSF Research Results


Our goal is to increase scientific understanding of long-term co-evolutionary interactions between people and their environments, or what may be termed "human ecodynamics", and to advance the use of past dynamics as explanatory models for contemporary global environmental change. Our theoretical orientation is that of ecosystem-culture "co-evolution". Our approach offers the real advantage of long-term historical data, provided by archaeology and paleoecology, combined with research on ecological and demographic processes.

This research is focused on the Hawaiian Islands, but the issues we address are global. The cultural and biological processes that developed and interacted in Hawaii, from population growth to the increasing centralization of political power and economic control, have happened everywhere and indeed are taking place globally today. The Hawaiian Islands are unique in the precision with which we can define the arena in which these processes play
out, from the biogeochemical matrix underlying agricultural development to the nature and isolation of the founding culture. Molecular biologists describing a particular model organism (C. elegans) characterize it as possessing "the ideal compromise between complexity and tractability". For our questions, we believe that the same can be said of the Hawaiian Islands. The approaches, concepts, and models developed here can contribute to basic understanding of how ecosystems, agriculture, and social structure interacted in a
constrained, isolated world - and that understanding can illuminate how we view the world today.

website Douglas Turner (dturner at stanford . edu)