Introduction

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way the world communicates. Those who study ecology are no exception. In this 'age of information', we have historically unprecedented opportunities to exchange ecological data and information, and to collaborate to create and share new ecological knowledge. Shaping Internet technologies for ecology in this century is an important focus in ecological informatics.

How do we harness the opportunities of the Internet for ecology? We must begin by understanding the kinds of digital resources that ecologists use, create, and exchange, and the Internet technologies currently used to accomplish these activities. Then we explore more advanced topics, including the semantic web, grid computing, and social computing. These rapidly changing technologies seek to address the challenges of large-scale ecological studies that involve global communities of scientists and are important to society.

With the Internet's rapid technological change comes somewhat slower, but important sociological change.

Finally, just as the ideas of computer and information science may be useful for ecologists, ecological concepts can be applied to Internet science. The interdisciplinary field of ecological informatics (see Ecological Informatics: Overview) is ideally positioned to explore these new directions.

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