The Ecological Theater And The Selforganizational Play

Study of the new systems that are emerging unintentionally is especially instructive. These systems demonstrate the process of self-organization, and their study can be a guide to the intentional engineering of new systems. The two main classes of unintentional new systems are (1) those ecosystems exposed to human stresses, in one form or another, for which they have no adaptational history and (2) those ecosystems with mixes of species that didn't evolve together (i.e., native and exotic species). These kinds of unintentional new systems are coming to dominate landscapes, and therefore, they deserve study even independent of ecological engineering. A very interesting common feature of these systems is that the traditional Darwinian evolution concept no longer provides the fullest context for understanding them. This common feature comes from the fact that the new systems lack direct or explicit adaptations for some features of their current situation because humans have changed conditions faster than evolution can occur. New systems differ from what are normally considered to be natural systems in which a more or less stable set of associated species has evolved together, in the Darwinian sense, over a long period of time with a given external environment. G. E. Hutchinson described the natural situation as the "ecological theater and the evolutionary play" (Hutchinson, 1965), in which ecology and evolution act together to produce organization in ecosystems. This is a wonderful metaphor that captures the way that nature consists of multiple, simultaneous time scales. Populations interact over the short-term in the "ecological theater" while simultaneously being subjected to natural selection over the long-term in the "evolutionary play." However, in the view presented here for the new unintentional systems, the conventional concept of evolution is becoming less important, and perhaps a new evolutionary biology will be required.

This is a strong statement that requires elaboration. First, consider those ecosystems stressed by human influences that never existed in the natural world. There

10 h

10 h

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Growing Soilless

Growing Soilless

This is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to growing organic, healthy vegetable, herbs and house plants without soil. Clearly illustrated with black and white line drawings, the book covers every aspect of home hydroponic gardening.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment