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Encyclopedia > Systems ecology

Systems Ecology is a transdiscipline which studies ecological systems, or ecosystems. The 'ecosystem' concept, literally means, 'ecological system', and owes its origins to Systems Ecology. As an Environmental science, Systems Ecology has also been associated with the notion of 'field physiology' which takes the concept of metabolism as understood in human physiology and bioenergetics, and applies it to the field, like a 'field' of wheat for example. Systems Ecologists also realised that the function of any ecosystem could be influenced by human economics in fundamental ways. They therefore took the further transdisciplinary step to include the flows of money as part of the consideration of ecological-economic systems. In ecology, an ecosystem is a community of organisms (plant, animal and other living organisms - also referred as biocenose) together with their environment (or biotope), functioning as a unit. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Bioenergetics, loosely defined, is the study of energy investment and flow through living systems. ... Ecological economics is not a branch of economic theory, but an emerging discipline that addresses the interdependence and co-evolution between human economies and their natural ecosystems. ...

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Strategy of systems ecology enquiry

As a mode of scientific enquiry a central feature of Systems Ecology is the general application of the principles of energetics to all systems at any scale. Reasoning by formal analogy from one system to another enables the Systems Ecologist to see principles functioning in an analogous manner accross system-scale boundaries. The fourth of these principles, the principle of maximum power efficiency, takes central place in the analysis and synthesis of ecological systems. The fourth principle suggests that the most evolutionarily advantageous system function occurs when the environmental load matches the internal resistance of the system. The further the environmental load is from matching the internal resistance, the further the system is away from its sustainable steady state. Therefore the Systems Ecologist engages in a task of resistance and impedance matching in Ecological engineering, just as the Electronic engineer would do. The Principles of Energetics can be thought of as a broad overarching expression of the many different laws uncovered in all branches of science; mechanics, biology, kinetics, electronics and theromodynamics are examples. ... The concpet of maximum power has been proposed as the fourth principle of energetics. ...


Summary of ecological system metabolism

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The image to the right is a summary of relationships between the storage quantity Q, the forces X, N, and the outflows J, resistance R, conductivity L, time constants T, and transfer coefficients k of ecosystem metabolism. The transfer coefficient "k", is also known as the metabolic constant.

"All these relationships are automatically implied by the energy circuit symbol (below)". H.T.Odum (1994, p. 26)

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See also

The Principles of Energetics can be thought of as a broad overarching expression of the many different laws uncovered in all branches of science; mechanics, biology, kinetics, electronics and theromodynamics are examples. ... The term Emergy Synthesis was introduced by Dr. D.M. Scienceman, the author of the Emergy nomenclature. ... Ecological economics is not a branch of economic theory, but an emerging discipline that addresses the interdependence and co-evolution between human economies and their natural ecosystems. ...

References

  • H.T.Odum (1994) Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology. University Press of Colorado, Niwot, CO.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Ecology (2528 words)
Ecology, or ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how these properties are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment.
Ecology can also be sub-divided according to the species of interest into fields such as animal ecology, plant ecology, insect ecology, and so on.
Ecology is generally spoken of as a new science, having only become prominent in the second half of the 20th Century.
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