Augmented Nature




The 6th Mass Extinction

The rate of extinction is about a thousand times what it used to be before humans. One species goes extinct every 5 minutes. Over the past 30 years 75% of all insects went extinct. 95% of all large predatory fish that roamed the seas are now gone. It probably comes as no surprise we are living in the 6th mass extinction. The big difference with the previous five is that this one is induced by humans. 

Αugmented Nature is a set of robotic tools that help animals adapt to the mass extinction. The tools enhance the capacities of so called Ecosystem Engineer species to reclaim and change their own habitats.


Ecosystem Engineers

The resilience of an ecosystem is strongly related to its biodiversity. Ecosystem engineers are species that engineer their environment and are highly interconnected within the ecosystem. Think for example of a beaver building a dam and creating wetlands that form the habitat for hundreds of other species. By actively enhancing these types of capabilities in endangered species we aim to provide an answer to the sharp decline in biodiversity.

We are now transforming the planet. We are not passive players on the stage. Our transformations have become so substantive that it is cause for deep reflection now that we make the stage upon which we act. This is currently unresolved.
— Clive Gareth Jones, Ecologist

A new approach to conservation

We propose an active and animal-centered alternative to the current conservation efforts. Our premise is that humans are part of nature. Hence, efforts that try to separate species or revert nature to a certain state in the past (re-wilding, preservation) are not realistic. Nature is a dynamic system and evolution is equally driven by species adapting to change but also by transforming the environment for their purposes. 

We worked in close collaboration with scientists to develop the next generation of high-tech biologging tags. These experimental interventions are the first step towards a future where instead of mitigating our impact on nature, we aim for a positive impact.  We demonstrate this approach with two example animals: humpback whales and collared peccaries.