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Island Biocultural Assemblages — The Case of Kinmen Island

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A growing mass of research contributes to our understanding of how biological and cultural diversity are related in complex and important ways. This paper presents an assembling process of biodiversity and cultural diversity on an island, Kin-men (Quemoy), based on 1600 years of its environmental history. The study shows that the island's biocultural assemblages are a result both of external relations with the island's surrounding environment and internal relations within the island's changing human ecology. Distant political powers and economic forces are the two major external influences that have affected the flow of natural and cultural elements to and from the island, while ‘screening effects’ and ‘isolation effects’ are two factors that explain internal interactions. The island's biocultural assembling processes reveal that the openness of the island facilitates increase in the diversity of biocultural elements, while its less disturbed isolated condition fosters natural succession and co-evolution. The study suggests that biocultural assemblages and the associated processes of co-evolution and nature–society interactions are accomplished through the intermittent opportunities purposively provided by or inadvertently found in the openings and closures of boundaries, setting the scene for both boundary crossings and bounded shelter, by intent or chance.

Keywords: Kinmen Island; biocultural assembling process; environmental history; external forces; internal interactions; island biogeography

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Graduate Institute of Environmental Education, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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