Eben Kirksey is a permanent faculty member in Environmental Humanities at UNSW Australia and a Visiting Research Scholar at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the editor of
Emergent ecologies are being shaped by a multitude of creative agents. Multispecies communities live in the minds of creatures like Ectatomma ants, conscious animals who actively care for other beings and things. Convivial plants also form assemblages with nectaries on their stems, sugary treats in their fruits, and nutritious exudates from their roots. Rather than just building niches for themselves—constructing and altering environments for members of their own kind—enterprising critters like earthworms and their diverse companions in the rhizosphere integrate the interests of others as they bring ecosystems together. Flourishing in the aftermath of order-destroying disruptions—in abandoned cattle pastures, in the detritus of industrial food production, after disease outbreaks, and after geological disasters that eclipse human agency—these enterprising critters are opening up the future to lively possibilities.