Hierarchy, Control, and Oscillation

  • Robert J. Beyers
  • Howard T. Odum
Part of the Springer Advanced Texts in Life Sciences book series (SATLIFE)


Ecosystems developing in microcosms, like the larger unconfined systems, soon develop hierarchical networks with many small organisms at one level converging support for fewer, larger organisms at another level (left to right in energy systems diagrams). The higher level units provide controls over the units at lower levels in the form of animal services and chemical substances (right to left in energy systems diagrams). With hierarchical population structure, “prey-predator” type oscillations appear. With higher energy levels, more complex “chaotic” oscillations may appear. In this chapter we consider the hierarchy of populations and processes, spatial aspects of hierarchical organization, population oscillations within microecosystems, and the effect of containers in isolating a system from large-scale influences. As elsewhere in this book, we keep in mind the compelling intuitive hypothesis that the observed hierarchies and oscillations occur because they reinforce maximum power.


Turnover Time High Energy Level High Level Unit Steady Pattern Hierarchical Population Structure 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Beyers
    • 1
  • Howard T. Odum
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of South AlabamaMobileUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Engineering SciencesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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