Environ Analysis is in a more general class of methods called ecological network analysis (ENA) which uses network theory to study the interactions between organisms or populations within their environment. Bernard Patten was the originator of the environ analysis approach in the late 1970s, and he, along with his colleagues, has expanded the analysis to reveal many insightful, holistic properties of ecosystem organization. ENA follows along the synecology perspective introduced by E. P. Odum which is concerned with interrelations of material, energy, and information among system components.

ENA starts with the assumption that a system can be represented as a network of nodes (compartments, vertices, components, storages, objects, etc.) and the connections between them (links, arcs, flows, etc.). In ecological systems, the connections are based on the flow of energy, matter, or nutrients between the system compartments. If such a flow exists, then there is a direct transaction between the two connected compartments. These direct transactions give rise to both direct and indirect relations between all the objects in the system. Network analysis provides a systems-oriented perspective because it uncovers patterns and relations among all the objects in a system. Therefore, showing how system components are tied to a larger web of interactions.

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