Ecology - Integrative Levels, Scope, and Scale of Organization

Integrative Levels, Scope, and Scale of Organization

See also: Integrative level

The scope of ecology covers a wide array of interacting levels of organization spanning micro-level (e.g., cells) to planetary scale (e.g., ecosphere) phenomena. Ecosystems, for example, contain populations of individuals that aggregate into distinct ecological communities. It can take thousands of years for ecological processes to bring about the final successional stages of a forest. An ecosystem's area can vary greatly, from tiny to vast. A single tree is of little consequence to the classification of a forest ecosystem, but critically relevant to organisms living in and on it. Several generations of an aphid population can exist over the lifespan of a single leaf. Each of those aphids, in turn, support diverse bacterial communities. The nature of connections in ecological communities cannot be explained by knowing the details of each species in isolation, because the emergent pattern is neither revealed nor predicted until the ecosystem is studied as an integrated whole. Some ecological principles, however, do exhibit collective properties where the sum of the components explain the properties of the whole, such as birth rates of a population being equal to the sum of individual births over a designated time frame.

Read more about this topic:  Ecology

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    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)