Toward a Unified Ecology

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Columbia University Press, 1992 - Science - 384 pages
Two key demands are being made of ecology: that the discipline increasingly be a predictive one; and that ecologists be prepared to consider large-scale systems. These systems become simple or complex based on the level and type of explanation required, and a strict and consistent epistemology is needed in light of new insights into the nature of complexity. T.F.H. Allen and Thomas W. Hoekstra argue that complex systems analysis requires ecologists to distinguish models and to recognize that models must invoke a scale and point of view. Toward a Unified Ecology offers a strategy to attain a unity that brings basic ecology to bear on ecological management. Beginning with hierarchy theory as a basic premise, the book goes on to explain that the conventional "levels"--Ecosystems, landscapes, communities, populations, organisms--are not levels in themselves but criteria for observation. The authors assert that the essential character of ecology's subdisciplines is scale-dependent. Putting scale back into systems of well-defined type captures the richness of the connections in the material ecological system. Allen and Hoekstra present a conceptual framework for a more coherent view of ecology, showing how to link the various parts of ecology into a natural whole.
 

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Contents

THE PRINCIPLES OF ECOLOGICAL INTEGRATION
13
THE LANDSCAPE CRITERION
54
THE ECOSYSTEM CRITERION
89
THE COMMUNITY CRITERION
126
THE ORGANISM CRITERION
159
THE POPULATION CRITERION
201
THE BIOME AND BIOSPHERE CRITERIA
238
MANAGEMENT OF ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
256
A UNIFIED APPROACH TO BASIC RESEARCH
282
NOTES
333
BIBLIOGRAPHY
355
SUBJECT INDEX
373
NAME INDEX
381
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Page 355 - Allen, TFH, RV O'Neill and TW Hoekstra. 1987. Interlevel relations in ecological research and management: some working principles from hierarchy theory, Journal of Applied Systems Analysis, 14, 63-79.
Page 8 - For any level of aggregation, it is necessary to look both to larger scales to understand the context and to smaller scales to understand mechanism; anything else would be incomplete. For an adequate understanding leading to robust prediction it is necessary to consider three levels at once: (1) the level in question; (2) the level below that gives mechanisms; and (3) the level above that gives context, role, or significance.

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About the author (1992)

Timothy F. H. Allen is professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Thomas W. Hoekstra is assistant director for research at the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

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