Peter Vitousek, Stanford University
Oceanic islands like the Hawaiian Archipelago have long been recognized in biology as model systems for understanding evolution and speciation, and more recently as models for understanding ecosystem structure and functioning. Other communities have studied the adaptive radiation of human societies on islands (without using that terminology). Islands also offer remarkable opportunities to evaluate the interaction of ecosystems and human societies - as societies develop, intensify agriculture, and become more socially and culturally complex. Vitousek’s lecture examines island societies that faced the necessity of a transition to sustainability earlier and more starkly than continental societies and how features of both land and culture influenced their success in making this transition.