Tag Archives: scale

Fire and the Anishinaabe

Andrew Miller and Iain Davidson-Hunt from the University of Manitoba, write about Fire, Agency and Scale in the Creation of Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes in Human Ecology (doi: 10.1007/s10745-010-9325-3).

The authors worked with the Pikangikum First Nation to understand and analyze how fire co-produces a cultural landscape over large spatial areas.

Their paper has two really interesting figures showing alternative perspectives on fire.  The first is a Stommel diagram of the Anishinaabe fire related cultural landscape in Manitoba, and the second an Anishinaabe image of a specific way fire was used in specific places and time in the boreal forest landscape to enhance the supply of desired ecosystem services.

Fig. 4 Spatial and temporal dimensions of knowledge related to fire use and its impacts held by Anishinaabe elders, and the areas of expertise they require

Fig. 5 Pishashkooseewuhseekaag—Spring burning of the marshes. Fires were lit in marshes in the Spring when ice on the lakes was beginning to break up but the ground was still frozen. Burning created luxuriant regrowth of grass, habitat for ducks and muskrats that could also be harvested for insulation.

A history of Stommel diagrams

Tiffany Vance and Ronald Doel have traced the history of the Stommel diagram from physical oceanography into biology, in their 2010 paper Graphical Methods and Cold War Scientific Practice: The Stommel Diagram’s Intriguing Journey from the Physical to the Biological Environmental Sciences in Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (DOI: 10.1525/hsns.2010.40.1.1.)

The paper provides an rich history of how the innovative oceanographer Henry Stommel created his diagrams to emphasize the cross-scale dynamics of the ocean (See figure below), and how his diagram was adapted by biological oceanographers. However, they miss how Stommel diagrrams moved into ecosystem ecology and sustainability science.

Below I present a series of Stommel diagrams.  The first three figures are reproduced in Vance and Doel’s paper, the later three are from sustainability science.

First, Stommel’s original figure, which was designed to show how oceanic processes varied across scales, and that sampling efforts had to be planned with a consideration of these.

Schematic diagram of the spectral distribution of sea level (From Stommel 1963. Varieties of Oceanographic Experience. Science)

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