Ecosystem Ecology


It’s difficult to think and talk ‘green‘ without thinking about ecology and our ecosystem. But how we we define ecology?

What is the history of ecology… how about ecology trends and the problems associated with ecology? All these questions and more are important if one wants to venture into living green and helping the environment. So if this describes at least one of your life goals, you are at the right place.

An Growing Interest

With growing focus on the impact of anthropogenic activities on the environment and concerns about global warming, there’s an increased interest in the field of ecology.

The term “ecosystem ecology” is philosophically and historically rooted in terrestrial ecology and deals with the flow of energy and matter through the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems. The ecosystem concept has evolved rapidly during the last 100 years. The important idea that physiological processes are fundamental to ecosystem structure and function remains central to ecology. In a nutshell, ecosystem ecology provides the basic science needed to avoid degradation and to restore ecosystem processes that provide for basic human needs.
Function, Mechanism, and Structure

Ecosystem ecology is an inherently interdisciplinary field of study with ecosystem being its principle unit of study. It mainly focuses on functional processes, ecological mechanisms that maintain the structure and services produced by ecosystems. These include primary productivity (production of biomass), decomposition, nutrient cycling and flow of energy through trophic interactions.

Natural Productivity

Biomass productivity is one of the most apparent and economically important ecosystem functions. Biomass accumulation begins at the cellular level via photosynthesis. Photosynthesis requires water and consequently global patters of annual biomass production are correlated with annual precipitation. Amounts of productivity are also dependent on the overall capacity of plants to capture sunlight which is directly correlated with plant leaf area and nitrogen content.

Decomposition and nutrient cycling are fundamental to ecosystem biomass production. Most natural ecosystems are nitrogen limited and biomass production is closely correlated with nitrogen turnover. Typically external input of nutrients is very low and efficient recycling of nutrients maintains productivity. Decomposition of plant litter accounts for the majority of nutrients recycled through ecosystems.

Energy and Nutrients

Trophic dynamics refers to process of energy and nutrient transfer between organisms. It is an important part of the structure and function of ecosystems. In a food chain, energy gained by primary producers (plants) is consumed by herbivores, which are consumed by carnivores, which are themselves consumed by “top- carnivores”.

Sustainability

Studies of ecosystem function have greatly improved human understanding of sustainable production of forage, fiber, fuel, and provision of water.

Functional processes are mediated by regional-to-local level climate, disturbance, and management. So, ecosystem ecology provides a powerful framework for identifying ecological mechanisms that interact with global environmental problems, especially global warming and degradation of surface water.

It plays an important role in understanding and adapting to the most pressing current environmental problems.

Restoration ecology and ecosystem management are closely associated with ecosystem ecology. Restoring highly degraded resources depends on integration of functional mechanisms of ecosystems. Without these functions intact, economic value of ecosystems is greatly reduced which may lead to potentially dangerous conditions.


Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem_ecology

http://www.lifesci.ucsb.edu/eemb/research/ecosystems_ecology/ecosystems_ecology.html
http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/kling/ecosystem/ecosystem.html
pdf:www.uic.edu/classes/bios/bios101/Ecosystems.ppt

For more information on ecology and keepin’ it green just use the following links:

Ecology Symbol

Definition of Ecology

Green Ecology

Ecology For Kids

Ecology Problems

Trends in Ecology

History of Ecology

What is Ocean Ecology

What is Population Ecology

What is Soil Ecology

Articles on Ecology

Washington Dept. of Ecology

National Wildlife Federation

Quotes about Ecology

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