How do we act in the ‘network mutualism’ between squirrels and human? (1)
Through tracking the scent, this squirrel in the alley successfully found the acorn he/she hid under the ground. But will all squirrels be smart enough to find food in disturbed habitats?



The alley is under construction for the upcoming carnival



‘Network mutualism’, a concept mentioned in Rod Barnett’s book “Emergence in Landscape Architecture”, where he describes the relationship between coyotes and human in Auburn as such.

“While coyotes do not prey on humans, the reverse is often true, so the human- coyote relationship, could be said to be that of a predator species to its prey. Even though humans do kill coyotes, they are not dependent on them for food.

Ecologically, therefore, their relationship might be seen as commensal, where one species, the coyote, benefits from the habitat created by urbanization, while the other, the human, is not affected in any significant way. Or it is more accurate to say that the two species are equally involved what is sometimes called a network mutualism.

The coyote population distributes itself throughout a space without borders or enclosure.

Organized by the rule of law, human Auburn is a static space defined by walls, enclosures and paths between enclosures, a division that nonhuman Auburn is continually redefining as a smooth continuum of “habitats”, “ecotones”, and “biotic communities”.

Just like these coyotes, we and squirrels also have this network mutualism, despite occasionally they go to people’s attics to live, and we human disturb their habitats by constructions, such as the one for the coming carnival.

When the land is stripped, some squirrels are still smart enough to find where they hid their food by smell, but it is doubtful that if all the squirrels are as smart as the one we filmed.

We all know animals’ habitats not only benefit themselves but bring us ecological diversity. However, the value of their habitats is beyond that. Their old habitats equal to “historic sites” in human societies, although may going through a faster pace of reconstruction. It is one part of the public history that documents the evolution of the human and non-human relationship.

As Rod Barnett says in his book: “Public space, may well, in fact, be the primary site of this encounter, if we extend the notion of the public to include nonhumans.”

So here is the question, how do we not disturb squirrels’ habitats while doing our necessary construction?

The first step might be, recognizing the public space is “public” for everyone, even beyond human.



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