The Desert Biome — A Simple System for Field Investigations of Ecological Principles

  • Moshe Shachak
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 18)


During the last few years there has been considerable progress in the study of natural ecosystems. However, translation of the basic concepts system ecology into school curriculum is still in its early stages. Therefore the objectives of the present investigation were to study the structure and function of a desert ecosystem, to develop a desert ecology course and to evaluate it. The structure and function of the ecosystems were investigated in the Negev. Typical food chains were studied in two habitats. Laboratory work was carried out to obtain growth curves and oxygen consumption as a function of temperature. Compartment models were constructed to represent energy flow and energy exchange in the ecosystems.

A course in desert ecology was developed to demonstrate the conclusions obtained from the analysis of models. The programme was evaluated on the basis of the following hypotheses: (1) From their own measurements and observations, students will be able to construct a compartment model of energy flow and energy exchange in the ecosystem; (2) By modelling the ecosystem, students will be able to understand the basic common principles in ecosystem energetics, and will be able to apply these principles to new situations; (3) Students will be able to develop a positive attitude toward modelling and system analysis in ecology.


Energy Flow Compartment Model Desert Ecosystem Investigative Activity Observation Diversity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Macfadyen, A. 1967. The Study of Animal Distribution and Movement in the Field, pp. 125–134. In Lambert, J. M. (ed.) The Teaching of Ecology. Blackwell Scientific Publ. Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Margalef, R. 1963. On Unifying Principles in Ecology. Am. Nat. 97: 357–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Odum, E. P. 1969. The Strategy of Ecosystem Development. Science 164: 262–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Odum, H. T. 1971. Environment, Power and Society. John Wiley, N.Y.Google Scholar
  5. Porter, W. P. and D. M. Gates. 1969. Thermodynamic Equilibria of Animals and Environment. Ecol. Monogr. 39: 227–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Shachak, M. 1975. Some Aspects of the Structure and Function of a Desert Ecosystem and its use in a Teaching Programme of a Field Studies Center. Ph.D. Thesis. Hebrew University, Jerusalem.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moshe Shachak
    • 1
  1. 1.Sde Boker CampusBen Gurion University of the NegevBeershevaIsrael

Personalised recommendations