Ecosystem Interchange

However, one arbitrarily draws the boundary, no ecosystem occurs in total isolation. In many cases when such boundaries are arbitrary, major survival effects must be provided by adjacent ecosystems. For example, coral reefs and most shallow benthic communities are greatly dependent on the effects of adjacent open bodies of water for food, oxygen, and wave and current 'drive'. Typically, filters, the core element of aquarium science, have been devised to fill the need for the larger, less animal-dense body ofadjacent open water that has been 'filtered' by the settling or loss of organic particles to deep water. However, such filters to a large extent usurp the role normally provided by plants in most of the communities that are modeled. Unfortunately, in so doing they do not add oxygen as the plants do, and they raise nutrient levels. Both bacterial and foam fractionation methods remove organic particulates and swimming plankters, including reproductive stages that should be part of ecosystem function. Managed aquatic plant systems, such as ATSs, have been successfully used to manage water quality of adjacent ecosystems interaction, as we describe in some of the examples.

Although terrestrial systems, in general, may be less difficult in this regard, simulation of biotic interchange may be crucial. For example, birds and mammals often change ecosystems seasonally and even diurnally and the effects may be critical. Many insects are seasonal, some for very short periods, and often cross ecosystem boundaries. In some cases, it may be possible to provide these interactions through a human manager; however, a refugium, or alternate ecosystem may be necessary to achieve veracity.

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