Why did I decide to write this book? As an undergraduate student I could not
make up my mind whether I wanted to be a zoologist or a botanist, so I decided to
adopt ecology, in its broadest sense, as my area of interest. This led me to think
about interactions among organisms and to try to look at ecosystems from a
holistic, rather than from an autecological, point of view. As someone with little
formal training in mycology, my interest in fungi started during my doctoral
research, especially when attending university-wide lectures by C. T. Ingold,
given at the University of London.
Human activities are affecting the global environment in myriad
ways, with numerous direct and indirect effects on ecosystems.
The climate and atmospheric composition of Earth are changing
rapidly. Humans have directly modified half of the ice-free terrestrial
surface and use 40% of terrestrial production. Our actions are
causing the sixth major extinction event in the history of life on
Earth and are radically modifying the interactions among forests,
fields, streams, and oceans.
Foreword for Cary Conference X, “Ecosystem Function in Heterogeneous
Among the most difficult problems in the life sciences is the challenge to
understand the details of how ecosystems/watersheds/landscapes function.
Yet, the welfare of all life, not just the human species, depends upon the successful
functioning of diverse and complicated ecosystems, each with various
dimensions and compositions.
This report is a product of the Panel to Review the Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative—a panel organized
by the National Research Council (NRC) in response to congressional concerns that the restoration of the greater
Everglades ecosystem be supported by the best possible science. The Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative
(CESI) has been the primary investment by the U.S. Department of the Interior to provide scientific information
to advise restoration decision-making and to guide its own land management responsibilities for South Florida
Compared to other ecosystems, wetlands have received an exceptional amount of
attention. Wetlands are valuable as sources, sink and transformers of a multitude
of chemical, biological and genetic materials. They stabilize water supplies, clean
polluted waters, protect shorelines, and recharge groundwater aquifers. They have
increasingly become recognized for their unique ecological functions in the
environment and are the focus of increased research by scientists and study
programs by schools, communities, and nature centers.
This collection of papers reflects the diversity of concepts, methods, and case studies that
address the challenge of
Managing for Healthy Ecosystems
as holistic environmental management
in the context of health, integrity, and sustainability.
embodies the capacity of
ecosystems to function without impairment, while
concerns the assessment of ecosystem
conditions relative to social goals and adoption of interventions to achieve designated goals.
Ecosystems provide a wide variety of marketable goods, fish and lumber
being two familiar examples. However, society is increasingly recognizing the
myriad functions—the observable manifestations of ecosystem processes such
as nutrient recycling, regulation of climate, and maintenance of biodiversity—
that they provide, without which human civilizations could not thrive. Derived
from the physical, biological, and chemical processes at work in natural ecosystems,
these functions are seldom experienced directly by users of the resource.
The last few years have witnessed tremendous changes in the syllabi of environmentally
related courses at Advanced Level and in tertiary education. Moreover, there have been
major alterations in the way degree and diploma courses are organised in colleges and
universities. Syllabus changes reflect the increasing interest in environmental issues,
their significance in a political context and their increasing relevance in everyday life.
This book is about the distribution and abundance of different
types of organism, and about the physical, chemical but especially
the biological features and interactions that determine these
distributions and abundances.
Unlike some other sciences, the subject matter of ecology is
apparent to everybody: most people have observed and pondered
nature, and in this sense most people are ecologists of sorts. But
ecology is not an easy science.
Large herbivores are, and have for a long time been, among the major
drivers for forming the shape and function of terrestrial ecosystems. These
animals may modify primary production, nutrient cycles, soil properties,
fire regimes as well as other biota. Some large herbivore species/populations
are at the edge of extinction and great effort is being made to save
them. Other species/populations are under discussion for reintroduction.
Still other species occur in dense populations and cause conflicts with
other land use interests.
Over the past 25 years the discipline of ecotoxicology has undergone two
major developments. Firstly, new assays have been developed, deploying
organisms that bear added relevance to the specific environment under
investigation. Several new procedures assess the effects on organisms after
exposure to environmental samples rather than to spiked water or sediment
samples. Also noteworthy is the considerable attention given to effects of
chronic exposure to low levels of contaminants.
From the early explorers onwards, visitors to the
Arctic and to Antarctica have commented with
great interest on the presence of lakes, wetlands, and
fl owing waters. These environments encompass a
spectacular range of conditions for aquatic life, from
dilute surface melt ponds, to deep, highly stratifi ed,
The Mangalore coast which is situated at the western
part of the Indian peninsula stretching to about 22 Kms of
Coastal district of Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka. The
healthy condition of the aquatic system depends upon its
physical, chemical and biological characteristics which
actually fluctuate with season and degree of pollution.
Marine ecosystem is one of the richest ecosystems
(Cairns & Dickson, 1971). Industrialisation, development
activities in coastal zones have placed enormous stress
The need to account for natural resources as capital,
in the same way as we account for economic and
financial resources, is getting more and more
attention. The recently published EU Roadmap for a
Resource Efficient Europe sets the policy framework
for action in the coming years and decades for which
robust data and indicators are needed.
In this respect, there is a contrast between the
natural resources which are recorded by the System
of National Accounts 2008, the basis for GDP, and
other natural resources which are ignored because
they are not seen as economic assets by the market.
Importance of Coral Reefs: 0.2% of world’s ocean. Habitat for 1/3 of marine fishes. Habitat for tens of thousands of other animals. The rainforests of the oceans. Destruction of other ecosystems upon which coral reefs depend. Possible disruption of reproduction and recruitment.
Today, the world faces many problems. The most important problem is the
population explosion. The population of 2.8 billion around 1945 doubled
during the following 50 years, and it will approximately double again, reaching
10 billion during the next 50 years. This population increase will produce
serious effects on worldwide food consumption and distribution; however, a
sharp production increase in agricultural products cannot be expected.
Diversity of plant form and life history and their distribution onto different habitats suggest
that plant functions should underlie this diversity, providing tools to successfully and differentially
thrive in every habitat. The knowledge of these functions is then the key to understand
community and ecosystem structure and functioning, something that attracted the
interest and effort of many plant ecologists trying to establish patterns of adaptive specialization
The concept of forest sustainability dates from centuries ago, although the
understanding of sustainable forest management (SFM) as an instrument that
harmonizes ecological and socio-economic concerns is relatively new. The change in
perspective occurred at the beginning of the 1990s in response to an increased
awareness of the deterioration of the environment, in particular of the alarming loss of
forest resources. The main and most striking cause of this deterioration is the
deforestation occurring in some areas of the world.
These research teams study for example the impact and mechanisms of greenhouse
gas emissions and atmospheric pollutant on climate, ozone depletion and carbon sinks
(oceans and inland waters, forests and soil). They do research to understand the
mechanisms and assess the impact of global change on the water cycle, water quality
and availability, as well as soil functions and quality to provide the bases for
management tools for sustainable water systems. Biodiversity and ecosystems are
analysed to understand and minimise the negative impacts of human activities.