"several" "several" 1
Note: Mirror Lake data is from Likens (1992) and Linesville Creek data is from Coffman et al. (1971).
there is a shallowness to the trend of adding the prefix bio to established concepts that have existed for a relatively long time in ecology. However, the trend is positive because it indicates the growing importance of these concepts beyond the boundaries of the academic discipline. Biodiversity prospecting is the name given to the search for species useful to humans (Reid, 1993; Reid et al., 1993) and ecological engineers might join in this effort. The search for plant species that accumulate metals for phytoremediation is one example and others can be imagined.
Design of new ecosystems requires the creation of networks of energy flow (food chains and webs) and biogeochemical cycling (uptake, storage, and release of nutrients, minerals, pollutants) that are developed through time in successional changes of species populations. H. T. Odum (1971) described this design process in the following words:
The millions of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms are the functional units of the existing network of nature, but the exciting possibilities for great future progress lie in manipulating natural systems into entirely new designs for the good of man and nature. The inventory of the species of the earth is really an immense bin of parts available to the ecological engineer. A species evolved to play one role may be used for a different purpose in a different kind of network as long as its maintenance flows are satisfied. The design of manmade ecological networks is still in its infancy, and the properties of the species pertinent to network design, such as storage capacity, conductivity, and time lag in reproduction, have not yet been tabulated. Because organisms may self-design their relationships once an approximately workable seeding has been made, ecological network design is already possible even before all the principles are all known.
Species populations are the tools of ecological engineering, along with conventional technology. These are living tools whose roles and performance specifications are still little known. Yet these are the primary components used in ecological engineering, and designers must learn to use them like traditional tools described by Baldwin (1997): "A whole group of tools is like an extension of your mind in that it enables you to bring your ideas into physical form." Perhaps ecological engineers need the equivalent of the Whole Earth Catalogs which described useful tools and practices for people interested in environment and social quality (Brand, 1997). Of course, it is the functions and interactions of the species that are important. Ecosystems are made up of invisible networks of interactions (Janzen, 1988) and species act as circuit elements to be combined together in ecological engineering design.
An exciting prospect is to develop techniques of reverse engineering (Ingle, 1994) in order to add to the design capabilities of ecological engineering. This approach would involve study of natural ecosystems to guide the design of new, constructed ecosystems that more closely meet human needs. Reverse engineering is fairly well developed at the organismal level as noted by Griffin (1974):
Modern biologists, who take it for granted that living and nonliving processes can be understood in the same basic terms, are keenly aware that the performances of many animals exceed the current capabilities of engineering, in the sense that we cannot build an exact copy of any living animal or functioning organ. Technical admiration is therefore coupled with perplexity as to how a living cell or animal can accomplish operations that biologists observe and analyze. It is quite clear that some "engineering" problems were elegantly solved in the course of biological evolution long before they were even tentatively formulated by our own species ... . Practical engineering problems are not likely to be solved by directly copying living machinery, primarily because the "design criteria" of natural selection are quite different from those appropriate for our special needs. Nevertheless, the basic principles and the multifaceted ingenuity displayed in living mechanisms can supply us with invaluable challenge and inspiration.
This process has been termed either bionics (Halacy, 1965; Offner, 1995) or variations on biomimesis (McCulloch, 1962) such as biomimicry (Benyus, 1997) and biomimetics (Sarikaya and Aksay, 1995), and it is the subject of several texts (French, 1988; Vogel, 1998; Willis, 1995). Walter Adey's development of algal turf scrubber technology based on coral reef algal systems, which is described in Chapter 2, is a prime example of this kind of activity at the ecosystem level of organization, as is the new field of industrial ecology described in Chapter 6.
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