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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 10 December 2014, Vol.293, pp.42-48
    Description: This paper reviews and compares systems thinking ideas originating from three individuals in diverse disciplines: American ecologist Bernard Patten, German sociologist Niklas Luhmann, and Austrian-born architect Christopher Alexander. From all three, stem ideas promoting the importance of differentiation (boundaries), connectedness, relations, and feedback. The congruence of these ideas formed independently, in different disciplines, on different continents, at roughly the same time speaks to the deep resonance systems concepts have on understanding our world. Consistent as well, is the insight that individual objects emerge from the structural couplings of their physical and social environmental context. These systems concepts are applied here to classify diversity in a holistic and integrated fashion and then extended to inform the question of sustainability. Sustainable systems are ones that are able to maintain coherent self-organization and simultaneously, recursively extend interactions to neighboring coherent wholes.
    Keywords: Diversity ; Envirogram ; Environment ; Operational Closure ; Systems Theory ; Sustainability ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 10 January 2016, Vol.319, pp.112-118
    Description: Systems ecology is sufficiently developed today to offer a consistent theory about ecosystem function due to the contributions from a number of system ecologists during the last forty to fifty years. During the last five years, additional important contributions to systems ecology have been published in in the areas of hierarchy theory, landscape processes, and thermodynamic indicators. For example, research showed that hierarchical organization has an important damping effect in the higher levels on disturbances occurring in the lower levels and that the damping effect increases with increasing biodiversity; this result is consistent with experimental and model results. A first attempt has been made to integrate hierarchical and network theory on the levels of ecosystems/landscapes using model experiments. The model experiments point toward an expansion of the Ecological Law of Thermodynamics (ELT) to ecosystems developing on the landscape, where it previous was shown valid for populations fitting in an ecosystem. Regarding thermodynamic indicators of ecological organization, flow transfers were used to quantify the usable work energy, including the work energy of information, in ecological networks. In particular, this new approach included the cycling of information, which is changed by transfers of work energy due to different values of the donors and the receptors. These changes, however, distribute to all the components of the network. The cardinal network hypotheses proposed by B. Patten have been expanded (published in this issue of ) and it has been shown that both the maximization of power (the flows of useful work energy) and the maximization of the storage of usable work energy including that of information in ecosystems’ networks are valid and complementary. This result represents a first integration of the Maximum Power Hypothesis and the Ecological Law of Thermodynamics with Network Theory, and it is presumed that a complete integration of all three theories, hierarchical, network and thermodynamic, could be expected in the coming years.
    Keywords: Systems Ecology ; Hierarchies ; Thermodynamics ; Networks ; Maximum Power ; Information ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Ecological modelling, 2011, Vol.223(1), pp.14-19
    Description: A fundamental difference between simple and complex systems is how the research objects are subdivided to support different study purposes. Based on a comparison between two urban energy system models – one with 5 and the other with 17 sectors – we concluded that the two models were most similar in terms of their description of the overall system structure and most different in terms of their description of specific intra-system relationships. The smaller number of system components and relationships in the 5-sector model facilitated judgments of the system's overall situation, thereby revealing where the key problems were found. In contrast, the 17-sector model provided enough details about the system to assist in the formulation of concrete operational measures to solve specific problems. Our results indicate that the division of a model into sectors should depend on the explicit problem to be solved and the context for that problem; different goals will require different numbers of system components. The results also demonstrate how simple and complex models can be used in tandem to examine a system from different perspectives. ; p. 14-19.
    Keywords: Models ; Urban Areas ; Energy Metabolism ; Energy
    ISSN: 0304-3800
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 24 January 2014, Vol.272, pp.188-197
    Description: The efficiency of urban metabolic processes depends on the degree of mutualism of these processes throughout the metabolic system and on the value gained by each compartment within the system. This can be assessed by means of ecological network-based synergism analysis. In this paper, we used material-flow accounting methods to account for the exchanges of resources and wastes among the compartments of an urban system. Using a seven-compartment urban metabolic network model of Beijing, China, as a case study, we examined the degree of synergism of the compartments, determined the nature of the resulting ecological relationships, and determined the flow of utility to each compartment within the system. The results revealed which types of ecological relationship contributed most to the system (here, exploitation) and identified the key compartments that decreased the system's degree of synergism. The results provide theoretical and empirical support for the development of policies designed to promote healthy development of Beijing's urban metabolic system.
    Keywords: Urban Ecology ; Urban Metabolism ; Ecological Network Analysis ; Material Flow Analysis ; Beijing ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 5
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 24 June 2015, Vol.306, pp.174-184
    Description: China's Shandong Lubei eco-industrial park was approved for construction in 2003, just after the first national eco-industrial demonstration parks were confirmed by China's State Environmental Protection Administration in 2002. It has therefore been recognized around the world as a successful example of an industrial symbiosis system. The park's success results from the harmonious and coordinated relationships among its members. Analyzing the ecological characteristics of these relationships and identifying the resulting advantages provide a basis for improving the park's efficiency and examining other parks. In this paper, we analyzed the flows of sulfur in the Lubei park (as an example of typical flows) using ecological network analysis to describe this industrial symbiosis system. The integrated analysis of the utility resulting from direct and indirect exchanges of byproducts and wastes can reflect the ecological relationships among members within the system. Based on these ecological relationships, members can be divided into producers, primary consumers, and secondary consumers; the integral flow weight for each level of the hierarchy can then be compared to reveal the system's overall ecological structure. By examining the exchanges of resources within the system, we can describe the ecological connotations of the symbiosis and how these ecological relationships influence the overall development and resource flows within the system.
    Keywords: Industrial Symbiosis ; Ecological Network Analysis ; Utility Analysis ; Lubei Eco-Industrial Park ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 6
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 2011, Vol.222(16), pp.2878-2890
    Description: ► Holling's adaptive cycle concept was used to hypothesize on trajectories of different ecosystem properties and ecosystem service provision. ► The dynamics of an exemplary forest ecosystem, starting a characteristic succession after a fire event, were described and translated into various figure-eight models referring to different ecosystem properties. ► Forest ecosystem service provision was shown and compared to urban and rural landscapes. Ecosystems are dynamic complexes. These dynamics can be described by different ecophysiological parameters and systems theoretical concepts like succession, thermodynamics, information/network theory, resilience, adaptability and the orientor concept. In this paper, different indicators and concepts are linked to Holling's adaptive cycle metaphor in order to derive hypotheses on potential system trajectories. The hypotheses focus on an exemplary temperate forest ecosystem experiencing the adaptive cycle's four phases of exploitation, conservation, collapse and reorganization after an initializing fire event. The different properties are correlated to the number of total system connections and show varying trajectories. Additionally, the provision of selected forest ecosystem services during the different phases is hypothesized and compared to three other land use types.
    Keywords: Resilience ; Adaptability ; Orientors ; Thermodynamics ; Ecosystem Services ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 7
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 24 June 2015, Vol.306, pp.160-173
    Description: Robustness is a universal feature of ecological systems which promotes sustainability over time. Robustness of an aquatic ecosystem, specifically an estuarine system, is investigated here using indicators derived from ecological network analysis. Estuaries provide us with many ecosystem services and these are consequently prone to face anthropogenic stresses. In South Africa, temporarily open/closed estuaries occupy a significant percentage of coastal boundaries. One of the South African estuaries, namely Mdloti, is studied here using network-based, Ecopath software. The estuarine energy flow networks are perturbed following different scenarios, which are assumed to be a result of selected anthropogenic stresses (eutrophication, overfishing) to the system. Several network indices such as total system throughput (TST), redundancy ( ), Finn’s Cycling Index (FCI) and ascendency over development capacity ratio ( / ) are calculated and analyzed for the original field-based network and three perturbed networks under different scenarios (change of autotrophic biomass, fish yield, and detritus import). The change of ecosystem robustness from the unperturbed network is more pronounced in the perturbed networks of fish biomass change and detritus import than change in autotrophic biomass scenario. These indicators reliably reflected the relative change of flow pattern if any changes occur and magnitude in the networks in different scenarios. From the present study, we show that certain common network indices as mentioned above provide a measure of robustness and can be used for the assessment of ecosystem organization and function. ENA properties and also robustness change depending on the type and magnitude of stress imposed on the system.
    Keywords: Network Analysis ; Ascendency ; Development Capacity ; Redundancy ; Perturbation ; Mdloti Estuary ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 8
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 24 November 2015, Vol.316, pp.144-154
    Description: Global climate change has aroused widespread interest in reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. Thus, an urban carbon inventory must consider both emissions and sequestration. In this context, we analyzed the main contributors to the flows that comprise a city's carbon metabolic processes employing methods and concepts from ecological science. The carbon emissions and sequestration by urban carbon metabolic processes can be compared to ecological catabolism and anabolism, respectively. We used empirical coefficients to estimate the rates of carbon catabolism and anabolism and calculate the resulting carbon imbalance index. Our analysis reveals the contributions of individual metabolic actors and the distribution of the metabolic flows among them. Taking Beijing as a case study, we found that the catabolic rate of the metabolic actors was more than five times the anabolic rate from 1995 to 2010, leading to a carbon imbalance index that was twice the average Chinese level. The major catabolic actors were the other services and domestic sectors. These catabolic rates were primarily influenced by the flows of electricity, heating energy consumption, and mobile energy consumption. The overall carbon imbalance resulted from greatly reduced metabolic flows in farmland anabolism due to conversion of farmland into urban land. Identifying the metabolic actors and flows in this manner will inform government mitigation efforts by identifying where reduction is required and guiding planning of appropriate mitigation actions. Our study also provides directions for conservation of the urban ecological environment.
    Keywords: Urban Metabolism ; Catabolism ; Anabolism ; Technological Metabolism ; Carbon Accounting ; Carbon Imbalance ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 9
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 2010, Vol.221(16), pp.1865-1879
    Description: Urban metabolism research faces difficulties defining ecological trophic levels and analyzing relationships among the metabolic system's energy components. Here, we propose a new way to perform such research. By integrating throughflow analysis with ecological network utility analysis, we used network flows to analyze the metabolic system's network structure and the ecological relationships within the system. We developed an ecological network model for the system, and used four Chinese cities as examples of how this approach provides insights into the flows within the system at both high and low levels of detail. Using the weight distribution in the network flow matrix, we determined the structure of the urban energy metabolic system and the trophic levels; using the sign distribution in the network utility matrix, we determined the relationships between each pair of the system's compartments and their degrees of mutualism. The model uses compartments based on 17 sectors (energy exploitation; coal-fired power; heat supply; washed coal; coking; oil refinery; gas generation; coal products; agricultural; industrial; construction; communication, storage, and postal service; wholesale, retail, accommodation, and catering; household; other consuming; recovery; and energy stocks). Analyzing the structure and functioning of the urban energy metabolic system revealed ways to optimize its structure by adjusting the relationships among compartments, thereby demonstrating how ecological network analysis can be used in future urban system research.
    Keywords: Urban Metabolism ; Energy Metabolism ; Network Analysis ; Throughflow Analysis ; Utility Analysis ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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  • 10
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Modelling, 2007, Vol.208(1), pp.56-67
    Description: Empirically observable energy and matter transfers in ecosystems create network structures commonly called food webs. The relation or interaction type associated with each link between pair-wise objects can be classified as (+, −) or (−, +) depending on the net gain or loss experienced by each object. If objects are not adjacent in the food web, then their observed direct interaction is neutralism (0, 0). From this perspective, a zero-sum balance exists between the number of positive and negative relations in the ecosystem. However, community-level relations arise from observable direct and unobservable indirect pathways within a food web, giving rise to indirectly mediated relations, mutualism (+, +) and competition (−, −). Determination of community-level relations requires a systemic or holistic approach. measures from in the broader frame of ecological network analysis (ENA) provide such a methodology to investigate the relations resulting from all observed and indirect transfers. This research demonstrates the methodology and shows three important results from the analysis. First, all objects in ecological networks are related either through their input and output environs, and therefore all objects interact with and influence the others in the web: there are no null community-level relations. Second, the community-level relations can and do differ from direct relations: what you see is not always what you get. Third, due to the web of trophic and non-trophic interactions, community-level relations usually have a greater occurrence of mutualism than competition making them more positive than the direct relations that produced them: this is the property called network mutualism.
    Keywords: Community Interactions ; Competition ; Food Webs ; Ecological Network Analysis ; Mutualism ; Synergism ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology
    ISSN: 0304-3800
    E-ISSN: 1872-7026
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