Introduction

Ecology is a broad and diverse field of study. One of the basic distinctions in ecology is between autecology and synecology, in which the former is considered the ecology of individual organisms and populations, mostly concerned with the biological organisms themselves; and the latter, the ecology of relationships among the organisms and populations, which is mostly concerned with communication of material, energy, and information of the entire system of components. In order to study an ecosystem, one must have knowledge of the individual parts; thus, it is dependent on fieldwork and experiments grounded in autecology, but the focus is much more on how these parts interact, relate to, and influence one another including the physical environmental resources on which life depends. Ecosystem ecology, therefore, is the implementation of synecology. In this manner, the dimensional units used in ecosystem studies are usually the amount of energy or matter moving through the system. This differs from population and community ecology studies in which the dimensional units are typically the number of individuals (Table 1). This simple dimensional difference has served as an unfortunate divide between research conducted at the different ecological scales. While ecosystem ecologists maintain that it is always possible to convert species numbers into biomass or nutrient mass, population and community ecologists often feel that too much unique biological detail is discarded by abstracting to energetic or material units. The advantage of this abstraction, of course, is that energy and mass are conserved quantities, whereas number of individuals is not. Therefore, using conserved units it is possible to construct balance equations and input-output models.

Table 1 Typical dimensional units of study at different ecological scales

Ecological scale

Dimensions

Organismal ecology

dE/dt

Population ecology

dN/dt

Community ecology

dN/dt

Ecosystem ecology

dE/dt

dE/dt = change in energy overtime; dN/dt = change in number over time.

dE/dt = change in energy overtime; dN/dt = change in number over time.

In fact, dimensionally, ecosystem ecology has more in common with organismal ecology in which the thermoregulation and physiology of a single organism is studied, which also often relies on energetic units. Indeed, all scales of ecological study have a role to contribute to general scientific understanding and have been developed to address a wide range of interesting and relevant questions regarding the natural world and the impact humans have on it.

Solar Power Sensation V2

Solar Power Sensation V2

This is a product all about solar power. Within this product you will get 24 videos, 5 guides, reviews and much more. This product is great for affiliate marketers who is trying to market products all about alternative energy.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment