The book presents a consistent and complete ecosystem theory based on thermodynamic concepts. The first chapters are devoted to an interpretation of the first and second law of thermodynamics in ecosystem context. Then Prigogine's use of far from equilibrium thermodynamic is used on ecosystems to explain their reactions to perturbations. The introduction of the concept exergy makes it possible to give a more profound and comprehensive explanation of the ecosystem's reactions and growth-patterns. A tentative fourth law of thermodynamic is formulated and applied to facilitate these explanations. The trophic chain, the global energy and radiation balance and pattern and the reactions of ecological networks are all explained by the use of exergy. Finally, it is discussed how the presented theory can be applied more widely to explain ecological observations and rules, to assess ecosystem health and to develop ecological models.
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Table of Contents1. Thermodynamics as a method: A problem of statistical description.
2. The laws of classical thermodynamics and their application to ecology.
3. Second and third law of thermodynamics in open systems.
4. Entropy, probability and information.
5. Work, exergy and information.
6. Stability in mathematics, thermodynamics and ecology.
7. Models of ecosystems: Thermodynamic basis and methods. I. Trophic chains.
8. Models of ecosystems: Thermodynamics basis and methods. II. Competition and trophic level.
9. Thermodynamics of ecological networks.
10. Thermodynamics of vegetation.
11. Thermodynamics of the biosphere.
12. Teleology and extreme principles. A tentative fourth law of thermodynamics.
13. Application of exergy as ecological indicator and goal function in ecological modelling.