Separation in Time

Another problem related, in particular, to the detection of indirect effects, is the fact that they often occur after a considerable time lag. Unfortunately, research grants are typically no longer than 3 years (often less). Hence it is likely that in many studies the potential for indirect effects has been considerably underestimated (if not totally overlooked).

Not only are cause and effect often separated in time, but they also may occur at different stages of the system's succession. This, however, may be turned to human advantage, and used as a complementary measure of environmental control. For example, it has been shown that in freshwater lakes and reservoirs biogeochemical cycle of P may be regulated by alterations in the biogeo-chemical cycle of Si, and stimulation of the spring diatom growth may help to alleviate nasty cyanobacterial blooms in summer. Clearly, due to inherent problems with ecosystem complexity and uncertainty any application of environmental management measures utilizing time lags of indirect effects should be done with extreme caution.

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