Ecology is a synthetic & systemic study of an organism or a species
and its surroundings. The ecological system is a basic unit of study for measuring the impact of interdependent populations in a place and how they are influenced by the ecosystems in which they reside or visit for use and nourishment.
The combined impact of each of these conceptually separate spheres, but collaterally related influences, by the rules of synergy have a combined impact on sustaining life greater than each of their separate contributing factors.
Trophic levels refer to food sources in an ecosystem arranged by the means used to acquire energy.
these are literally two different organisms "living together" (symbiosis); one is a green algae and the other is a fungus. The synergy, or working together occurs because the waste minerals of the fungus is used by the green algae which takes sunlight and carbon dioxide to make oxygen that the fungus requires.
are also two creatures living, symbiotically, together. This is called
mutualism because, like the lichen, one creature here is an animal
polyp and the other is an algae. The algae lives within the polyp
and provides oxygen to the animal polyp whose carbon dioxide waste
is needed by the algae. Like so many deep water organisms the largely
shallow water coral reefs formed by these symbiotic polyps are metabolically
resemble the communities of life that live in the deep ocean around
methane (cold) seeps or the sulphur rich (hot) vents called "smokers"
associated with volcanoes. While the coral is an animal with an algae
inside, deep water communities are animals with bacteria inside for
the mutual benefit of both kinds of organisms.
are a classification of soil fungus living in relation to the roots
of trees and other plants. Orchids and pine trees are associated with
two functionally distinct root fungus. They are examples of mutually
beneficial symbiotic creatures. "The presence of a fungal partner
is vital for establishment and growth of seedling trees of a number
of different species..." such as pines. In some cases the fungal partner
spreads out underground for acres and nourishes the re-growth of forests,
despite harsh circumstances that might otherwise (without the fungus)
inhibit the persistence of new trees.
1.1 ecologyis related to how we utilize (use) nature:
approaches to nature (in western civilization) 1. spiritual
- based on a transcendent, sacred, and religious views 2. aesthetic
- based on an appeal to our senses, emotions and fashions 3. utilitarian
- based on our need to eat, re hydrate, and sleep to survive 4. ecological
- based on the facts that we are parts of a functional system
1.3.1. Natural history [ Greek & Roman construct ]:
Geographical centers of specific animal and plant associations we now
call cultural hearths are dependent on the ecological integrity of the resident bacteria, fungi, plants, & animals. Life's physical evolution and endurance
was originally seen as a divine manifestation.
Geology, botany, zoology, geography and ethnography were to the ancient Greek naturalists different puzzle pieces
of this cosmogonic framework.
1.3.2. History is a Chinese construct of chronicling the past. It
was done to record the events associated with the heavens in each dynasty.
Dynastic historians were interpreters of official policy, ideas, behavior, and actions.
Two phrases suggest
that we ultimately become what we consume. How startling that what we consume ultimately consumes us, but in an ecological sense, no other conclusion is possible because one organism depends on another. It is often easy to ignore the realization that what we eat on a daily basis actually shapes the land-use patterns around the world. Consider for example the impact of an American or European breakfast on the conversion of land and water resources.
America, Indonesia, & Africa.
Brazil, Israel, India, & China.
sugar cane fields
Hawaii, Jamaica, Costa Rica, India.
Georgia, California, Illinois.
Texas, California, Wisconsin, New York.
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois.
310 million people have eating habits in the United States that influence
the use of land and water resources in other countries, it is not surprising
that whatever it takes to grow, harvest, deliver and prepare the food
will be of essential importance to social cohesion, comity, and progress.
Food in Europe and America involves the use of land, water and fossil
Estimates by Dr.
Pimentel at Cornell University reveal that for every calorie we extract
from a food sources ten calories of fossil fuels are required to obtain
must be recalled that agricultural ecosystems are
the functional basis of all human societies, except for the hunting and
gathering peoples. But even among some, so called nomads, an intimate
relationship among land, wildlife and deliberate alteration of vegetation
sustains these groups of people.
* 61 million
Americans live in the rural ( 2,500 or < population ) places * farm workers experience the worst housing and poverty
conditions in the US * indoor plumbing is the "benchmark" of substandard
transition to standard housing
Agriculture is the
landscape to food connection maintaining people's
health and security.
17% of all commercial
energy used in the USA is for agriculture & accounts for 25% of the
food and fiber produced worldwide, feeding 105 Americans stateside and
35 residents overseas. 1.8% or 650,000 Americans are full time farmers!
of the water pumped in the US is for irrigation of crops (70-80% evaporates).
26 billion tons
of topsoil erodes annually (over four tons/ capita annually).
1/3 of all cropland
globally is becoming too eroded and 1/10 is waterlogged from irrigation,
1/4 is highly saline from irrigation.
[.33 + .25 +
.1 = .59 or 59% of cropland is damaged!]
14% of US topsoil loss is from overgrazing of livestock. 1/2 our water
goes to livestock.
17% of the planets arable (crop) land is irrigated and producing
40% of the worlds food.
70% of US grain
is fed to livestock; compared to 37% worldwide.
19% of US cropland
is devoted to livestock while 50% is globally.
11% of the planets
surface is now used and able to grow crops (arable). (24% could be used,
"As for diversity, what remains of our native fauna and flora remains only because agriculture has not got around to destroying it. The present ideal of agriculture is clean farming; clean farming means a food chain aimed solely at economic profit and purged of all non-conforming links. . . . Diversity on the other hand, means a food chain aimed to harmonize the wild and the tame in the joint interest of stability, productivity, and beauty.
Clean farming, to be sure aspires to rebuild the soil, but it employs to this end only imported plants, animals and fertilizers. It sees no need for the native flora and fauna that built the soil in the first place. . . . the tacit evidence of evolution, in which diversity and stability are so closely entwined as to seem two names for one fact."
The Kaibab Plateau, Marble Canyon
& the south rim of the Grand Canyon. JVS, 2003.
elements contribute to the functionality and resilience
of whole systems.It is each of
these functional elements, working together that provide the human
economy with ecosystem services, such as a watershed.
Landscape that is forested allows water to percolate deep into underground
sources and runoff more slowly across the terrain to provide a less
drastic flow of flood water into adjoining rivers. Any watershed is
the source of drinking water supplies to urban and rural areas. The Kaibab plateau shown above on the north rim of the Grand Canyon was the site of an ecological disaster involving wildlife and a lesson in game management for the consequences involved when the removal of predators –in this case eradication of wolves– led to an overpopulation of deer destroying the forest on the plateau. The forest as a source of groundwater is part of a vast circuit of ecological dependencies the consequences of which are often only learned after the disturbance occurs.
As Aldo Leopold wrote: "We do not understand or foresee these readjustments; we are unconscious of them unless the end effect is bad."
Above is a set of tree rings.
The width of the rings relative to one another indicate the amount of growth that year. The implication is there was sufficient water and nutrients available for growth to persist. Narrower rings suggest droughts.
The concentric circles have fractured in the direction of and contrary to
the circularity of the rings. They can be thought of a a schematic or diagram
of an interlocking ecological system because that suggests how interdependent
one part of the tree is on another and how each part is upon the whole.
"Hercules and Achelous," 1947, by Thomas Hart Benton [ Born: Neosho, Missouri 1889 | Died: Kansas City, Missouri 1975 ] tempera and oil on canvas mounted on plywood [62 7/8 x 264 1/8 in. (159.6 x 671.0 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum] Gift of Allied Stores Corporation, and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1985.– Smithsonian American Art Museum