Ecosystem Analysis

  • Gene E. Likens
  • F. Herbert Bormann


An ecological system has a richly detailed budget of inputs and outputs of energy and matter. Because of the lack of precise information about these relationships and the internal functions that maintain the ecosystem, it is often difficult to assess the impact of human activities on the biosphere. As a result, land-use planners often cannot take into account or even foresee the full range of consequences a project may have. Without full information, the traditional practice in the management of land resources has been to emphasize strategies that maximize the output of some desirable product or service and give little or no thought to the secondary effects. As a result one sees such ecological confusion as an all-out effort to increase food production while natural food chains become increasingly contaminated with pesticides and runoff and seepage waters carry increasing burdens of pollutants from fertilizers and farm wastes. Forests are cut with inadequate perception of the effects on regional water supplies, wildlife, recreation, and esthetic values, and wetlands are converted to commercial use with little concern over important hydrologic, biologic, esthetic, and commercial values lost in the conversion.


Secondary Mineral Northern Hardwood Fagus Grandifolia Experimental Watershed Tsuga Canadensis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gene E. Likens
    • 1
  • F. Herbert Bormann
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA
  2. 2.School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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