INTEGRATING ECOSYSTEM THEORIES – GRADIENTS AND ORIENTORS AS OUTCOMES OF SELF-ORGANIZED PROCESSES
Free (open access)
Volume 6 (2011), Issue 4
318 - 341
FELIX MÜLLER & FRANZISKA KROLL
This paper discusses the ecological gradient principle and shows interrelations of this concept with several approaches of ecosystem analysis and theory. After a general description of ecosystem self-organization, ecological gradients are introduced as emergent ecosystem properties, their characteristics are explained, and different gradient types are distinguished. On this basis, the gradient principle is related to some other theoretical approaches of ecosystem comprehension: hierarchy theory, network theory, and thermodynamics. Thereafter,while observing ecosystem development, gradients are related to orientor theory, and the roles of disturbances are discussed. Few outcomes of the gradient principle for environmental management are listed, reaching from indicator derivation, integrity utilization to ecosystem service-based valuations. Finally, Bossel’s basic orientor concept is used to show a gradient-related linkage between environmental and human systems.
ecosystem theories, ecosystem gradients, self-organization, ecological orientors, ecological integrity,