This chapter reviews the uses of microcosms and mesocosms as experimental ecosystems. Numerous excellent reviews have been published on this topic, and many are cited for further reading throughout the text. An effort is made to focus on elements of relevance to both the engineering side and the ecological side of applications. In relation to engineering, design aspects of microcosms are covered, including scaling, energy signatures, and complexity. The controversy between ecologists and engineers over the role of microcosms in research on space travel life support sy stems is given special attention as a case study in ecological engineering. In relation to ecology, aspects of the new systems that have emerged from microcosm research are highlighted. The new qualities show up in (1) examples of micrcocosm replication, and (2) when microcosms are compared with real analog ecosystems.
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