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    Author(s): RANDALL W. MYSTER
    Date: 2001
    Source: Caribbean Journal of Science, Vol. 37, No. 1-2, 132-134,
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (112 B)


    Ecosystems were originally defined as units of the earth’s surface, that is the whole system including the organisms and the physical factors that form the environment (Tansley, 1935). As the study of ecosystem ecology evolved, ecosystems came to be categorized by their function and structure (Odum, 1953) with an emphasis on integration and indirect interaction (Muller, 1997). Ecosystem scientists divided into two camps: those concerned with measuring an ecosystem’s input and output relations (flows of matter and energy; Evans, 1956) and those concerned with specific populations (Levin, 1976). However, populations reacted to stimuli from the environment, not the inverse (Allee et al., 1949; McIntosh, 1985), so that now ecosystems are seen as defined first by the biota and second by the environment (Chapin et al., 1997). Consequently, ecosystems can logically be defined as a collection of dynamic, largely stochastically occurring(Gleason, 1926), individualistically responding (Myster and Pickett, 1988) and weakly interacting (Myster and Pickett, 1992b) species and those aspects of the abiotic environment to which they respond.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    MYSTER, RANDALL W. 2001. What is Ecosystem Structure?. Caribbean Journal of Science, Vol. 37, No. 1-2, 132-134,

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