Very Small Ecosystems

  • Douglas J. Spieles
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


A common criticism of the individualistic, nonequilibrium view of ever-changing ecosystems is that “natural” ecological change happens over great time scales – so great, in fact, that such change is irrelevant for our current ecosystem preservation and conservation efforts. Of course ecosystems change, the argument goes, but they change over millennia. The holistic equilibrium view is based on the scale of years to decades, and on this scale ecosystems may be treated as stable – progressing through succession to the domain of attraction – and would remain stable if it were not for human activities. Without a doubt, humans have accelerated ecosystem change by creating stressful ecological conditions and by introducing and unintentionally favoring invasive species. It is also clear that the dominant plant and animal communities of an ecosystem, given a regular disturbance regime and a constant stress regime, can remain relatively unchanged over time. Indeed, ecological changes on the scale of years to decades may be subtle; individual species may a respond to a gradual increase in regional temperature, perhaps, or slow processes of erosion and sedimentation. As we have seen, such responses can result in monumental ecosystem change over long periods of time, but it is true enough that these changes may not even be noticeable on an annual basis. Therefore, the argument may conclude, it is our duty to restore ecosystems to and maintain them in the appropriate stable state.


Microbial Community Extrinsic Factor Community Resilience Microbial Ecosystem Microbial World 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Denison UniversityGranvilleUSA

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