Advancement in our understanding of ecosystem theories has led to a tentative consensus of the principle laws in ecology as outlined above. A priority now is to gain wider application of the theory and to promote, in general, ecology as a theoretical science. As such the following synthesis was recently put forth.
I. Ecosystems are physically and ontically open, meaning that they can exchange mass, energy, and information with the surroundings and that it is not possible to make exact predictions on their development due to their enormous complexity. II. Ecosystems have directionality.
III. Ecosystems have connectivity.
IV. Ecosystems have emergent hierarchies.
V. Ecosystems have a complex dynamics (growth and disturbances).
Steps toward a wider application of a theoretical explanation of ecological observations will reinforce the fundamentals of ecology. The experience from physics shows that a theory advances through wider use, because every application will either support the theory or improve it by demonstrating where it fails. In conclusion, a tentative ecosystem theory is proposed which has broad explanatory power today, but will improve with more experience providing an even stronger theoretical basis for ecology.
See also: Ascendency; Chaos; Emergy; Exergy; Hierarchy Theory in Ecology.
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