Long-term ecosystem dynamics: Theoretical concepts of environmental change

Fath BD & Mueller F (2010). Long-term ecosystem dynamics: Theoretical concepts of environmental change. In: Long-term Ecological Research: Between Theory and Application. Eds. Mueller, F., Baessler, C., Schubert, H. & Klotz, S., Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-90-481-8781-2 DOI:10.1007/978-90-481-8782-9_3.

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Abstract

The question of ecosystem dynamics is important because when studying ecosystems, particularly over the long term, one must expect that natural endogenous changes will occur. In other words, observed changes may not be solely reflective of human-induced or other exogenous perturbations, but rather represent the natural long-term dynamic which the system experiences. Therefore, ecosystem management must account for these expectations, such that the goal might not be to preserve a system in its current state, but to allow the range of natural dynamics to occur, to allow the system to follow its self-organizing trajectory. The challenge for ecosystem theory and long-term ecological research is to identify this trajectory or direction in which ecosystems change. We can for instance look at some of the main system characteristics such as species composition, functional integrity, or biodiversity, and also look at changes in the thermodynamic patterns of organization in the ecosystem. In this chapter, we review some of the standard concepts on ecosystem growth and development and discuss the use of holistic orientors and indicators as a means to understand long-term ecosystem dynamics. We also try to demonstrate some respective linkages for the analysis of human-environmental systems and derive some suggestions for environmental management.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ecological orientors; Goal functions; Ecological succession; Ecosystem growth; Ecosystem development; Ecosystem decay
Research Programs: Dynamic Systems (DYN)
Bibliographic Reference: In: F. Mueller, C. Baessler, H. Schubert, S. Klotz (eds); Long-term Ecological Research: Between Theory and Application; Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany pp.27-38
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Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:44
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2016 16:45
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/9322

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