© 2015

The Science of Open Spaces

Theory and Practice for Conserving Large, Complex Systems

  • In-depth case studies illustrate how theoretical principles can be put into practice on a practical level to manage large landscapes

  • Charles Curtin has extensive first-person experience designing and coordinating collaborative large-landscape conservation projects nationally and internationally

  • Only book on the subject to draw on “first principles”—fundamental physical laws of the universe—to explain and propose innovative, sustainable approaches to the dynamic and constantly evolving nature of large, complex systems


Table of contents

About this book


This publication proposes that we return to “first principles”--fundamental physical laws of the universe--and think about complex systems from the ground up based on modern scientific theory backed up by practical experience. 
Since the days of the American Frontier, our management policies have promoted a one-size-fits-all mentality for large, complex landscapes. Landscape ecologist Charles Curtin argues that instead we need a science-based approach that accounts for the dynamic nature of complex systems and gives local stakeholders a say in their futures.
Curtin walks us through foundational concepts of thermodynamics, ecology, sociology, and resilience theory, applying them to real-world examples from years he has spent designing large-scale, place-based collaborative research programs in the United States and around the world.


ecology land management protected areas landscape sustainable

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of MontanaUSA

Bibliographic information

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