Ecosystem flow analysis

Fath, B.D. ORCID: (2012). Ecosystem flow analysis. In: Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology. Eds. Meyers & R.A., New York: Springer. ISBN 9780387894690 10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3_381.

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Ecosystem services provide the basis for all human activity. Maintaining their sustained function is of critical concern as the issues of sustainability addressed here in this encyclopedia are approached. At root, the ecosystem is a thermodynamic system receiving, collecting, transforming, and dissipating solar energy. The energy pathways are varied and complex and lead to the diversity of form and services available on the earth. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the ecosystem as a thermodynamic system and how the energy flows enter, interconnect, and disperse from the environmental system. Ecological network methodologies exist to investigate and analyze these flows. In particular, partitioning the flow into boundary input, noncycled internal flow, and cycled internal flow shows the extent to which reuse and recycling arise in ecosystems. The intricate, complex network structures are responsible for these processes all within the given thermodynamic constraints. Design of sustainable human systems could be informed by these organizational patterns, in order to use effectively the energy available. This article demonstrates the need for flow analysis, provides a brief example using a well-studied ecosystem, and discusses some of the ecosystem development tendencies which can be addressed using ecosystem flow analysis.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Programs: Advanced Systems Analysis (ASA)
Bibliographic Reference: In: Meyers,R.A. (ed.); Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology; Springer, New York, USA pp.3306-3313
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Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:47
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:22

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