Discussion

In this presentation we have defined a new concept, the eco-field, as an operational approach to integrate biocomplexity within the frameworks of landscape and evolutionary biology. The eco-field is important for short term as well as long-term evolutionary processes. At a short-term scale it affects the survival of individuals, and over the long term it drives the arrangement of the genome quality of a species. The eco-field paradigm accounts in a good way for the "source-sink" model (Pulliam 1988, 1996), and incorporates the concept of fuzziness in the distribution of organisms.

We observe the landscape created by our eco-fields but we are urged to search for appropriate techniques to investigate how the landscape is perceived by other organisms to assure their own survival. The human eco-fields are more numerous than those of any other organism because beyond the life traits fundamental for the survival of Homo sapiens we have other eco-fields as a product of our mental activity, history, and culture (Naveh 1995). Much of our landscape vision is strongly affected by culture in terms of aesthetic appreciation, although other eco-fields are equivalent for the fitness of our biological components.

The interaction between all eco-fields of all organisms can be finally represented with the ecosystem vision. This vision is becoming increasingly important with the advancement of the concept of biocomplexity (see Lewin 1999). It opens up new ways to investigate the mechanisms that produce emergent properties of ecological systems as the result of nonlinear, causally sorted interactions of different eco-fields. The eco-field paradigm is a representation of a part of complexity. It is not a mechanism itself, but a scheme that emphasizes interactions and information processing in the ecosystem.

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