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where I is known as the "average mutual information" inherent in the flow structure and D the residual disorder. In other words, the complexity has been decomposed into a term that measures how well the flows are constrained (coordinated) and how much they remain independent (free.)

Rutledge et al. (1976) suggested that the ability of the ecosystem network to respond in new ways to novel disturbance is related to D, while Ulanowicz (1980) argued that I quantifies the organization inherent in the flow network. It is important to notice that I and D are complementary, which is to say that, other things being equal, any change in I will be accompanied by a complementary change in D. The system cannot "have its cake and eat it, too." Coherent performance, I, comes at the expense of reliability, D, and vice-versa.

In other words, one should expect system stability to be more related to the value of the disordered complexity, D, and less correlated to the overall complexity, H, as the latter also encompasses the complexity encumbered by system constraints.

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