Growth and Development: Ecosystems Phenomenology

Growth and Development: Ecosystems Phenomenology

by Robert E. Ulanowicz


"What in the ever-loving blue-eyed world do these [U1ano­ wicz's] innocuous comments on thermodynamics have to do with ecology!" Anonymous manuscript reviewer The American Naturalist, 1979 "The germ of the idea grows very slowly into something recognizable. It may all start with the mere desire to have an idea in the first place. " Walt Kelly Ten Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo, 1959 "It all seems extremely interesting, but for the life of me it sounds as if you pulled it out of the air," my good friend Ray Lassiter exclaimed to me after enduring about 20 minutes of my enthusiasm for the newly formu­ lated concept of "ascendency" in ecosystems. "It wasn't," I replied, "but it would take a book to show you where it came from. " If such was the reaction of someone usually sympathetic to my manner of thinking, what could I expect from those who viewed biological devel­ opment in the traditional way? After all, I was suggesting that it is possi­ ble to quantify the growth and development of an entire ecosystem. Fur­ thermore, I was maintaining that this development was not entirely determined by events and entities at smaller scales, and yet could influ­ ence these component processes and structures. To be sure, mine was only the latest of many challenges to straight reductionism, but, like everyone else with a new idea, I thought mine was special.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781461249177
Publisher: Springer Nature B.V.
Publication date: 12/06/2011
Pages: 220
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.46(d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction.- 1.1 The Enigma.- 1.2 The Imprecise Universe.- 1.3 The Dilemma of Modern Biology.- 1.4 Phenomenological Redress.- 1.5 Origins of the Principle.- 2. The Perspective.- 2.1 Thermodynamics: The Phenomenological Science.- 2.2 The First Law and the Nature of Work.- 2.3 The Second Law.- 2.4 Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics and Proto-Communities.- 2.5 Summary.- 3. The Object.- 3.1 The Ubiquity of Flows.- 3.2 Describing Flow Networks.- 3.3 Analyzing Flow Networks.- 3.4 Standing Stocks and Fluxes.- 3.5 Summary.- 4. An Agent.- 4.1 Cycles and Autonomous Behavior.- 4.2 Autonomous Behavior and Holistic Description.- 4.3 The Amount of Cycling in Flow Networks.- 4.4 The Structure of Network Cycles.- 4.5 Summary.- 5. The Calculus.- 5.1 Information Theory and Ecology.- 5.2 The Uncertainty of an Outcome.- 5.3 Information.- 5.4 Summary.- 6 The Description.- 6.1 The Network Perspective.- 6.2 Growth.- 6.3 Development.- 6.4 Simultaneous Growth and Development.- 6.5 Ascendency Arising from a Dynamic Tension.- 6.6 Generic Limits to Growth and Development.- 6.7 Autonomous Growth and Development Ill.- 6.8 The Limits to Autonomous Growth and Development.- 6.9 Phenomenological Basis for Optimal Ascendency.- 6.10 The Principle of Maximal Work.- 6.11 Relationship to Other Variational Principles.- 6.12 Summary.- 7 Extensions.- 7.1 The Incomplete Picture.- 7.2 Spatial Heterogeneity.- 7.3 Temporal Dynamics.- 7.4 Multiple Media.- 7.5 Overall Heterogeneity.- 7.6 Aggregation.- 7.7 Ascertaining Configurations of Optimal Ascendency.- 7.8 Other Applications—Economics and Ontogeny.- 7.9 Summary.- 7.10 Epilogue.- Appendix A: Review of Matrix and Vector Operations.- Appendix B: A Program to Calculate Information Indices.- References.- Author Index.

Customer Reviews