BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Ecology


ECOLOGY: AN OVERVIEW

Ecology is the scientific study of interactions among organisms and their environment, such as the interactions organisms have with each other and with their abiotic environment. Topics of interest to ecologists include the diversity, distribution, amount (biomass), number (population) of organisms, as well as competition between them within and among ecosystems. Ecosystems are composed of dynamically interacting parts including organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecosystem processes, such as primary production, pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and various niche construction activities, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. These processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits, and the variety of organisms is called biodiversity. Biodiversity, which refers to the varieties of species, genes, and ecosystems, enhances certain ecosystem services.

Ecology is an interdisciplinary field that includes biology and Earth science. The word "ecology" ("Ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates & Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. Modern ecology transformed into a more rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts on adaptation and natural selection became cornerstones of modern ecological theory. Ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It is closely related to evolutionary biology, genetics, & ethology. An understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function is an important focus area in ecological studies. Ecologists seek to explain....go to this link for more:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecology

JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY

The Journal of Ecology is the journal of the British Ecological Society. For more details and information go to: http://www.journalofecology.org/view/0/index.html 


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY

The International Journal of Ecology is a peer-reviewed, open access journal that publishes original research articles as well as review articles in all areas of ecology. Go to this link for more:http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijecol/

ECOLOGY---MORE
Ecology is a human science as well. There are many practical applications of ecology in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agroecology, agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics,
basic and applied science, and human social interaction (human ecology). For example, the Circles of Sustainability approach treats ecology as more than the environment 'out there'. It is not treated as separate from humans. Organisms (including humans) and resources compose ecosystems which, in turn, maintain biophysicalfeedback mechanisms that moderate processes acting on living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital like biomass production (food, fuel, fiber, and medicine), the regulation of climate, global biogeochemical cycles, water filtration, soil formation, erosion control, flood protection, and many other natural features of scientific, historical, economic, or intrinsic value.

The word "ecology" ("Ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). Ecological thought is derivative of established currents in philosophy, particularly from ethics and politics.[1] Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. Modern ecology became a much more rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts relating to adaptation andnatural selection became the cornerstones of modern ecological theory.

ECOLOGY OF FEAR

The first picture to greet the reader of this book Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster by Mike Davis(Picador, 484 pages, 1999 is cars half-submerged under water, scattered in all directions as far as the eye can see. ‘January 1995 storm (Long Beach)’, the caption reads; ‘Apocalypse Theme Park’ is the heading that introduces the section to follow. Welcome to Ecology of Fear, a book published just as I was retiring after a student-and-paid employment-life of half a century: 1949 to 1999.

Turn the page for the second photograph which displays a collapsed freeway behind a ‘Los Angeles City Limit’ sign. Opposite this evidence of damage is a table entitled ‘Biblical Disasters?’ that lists the deaths and dollar-losses from three years of earthquake, fire, riot and flood in the mid-Nineties. Ecology of Fear throws just about everything at metropolitan Los Angeles: water, earthquake and drought (Chapter 1), concrete (Chapter 2), fire (Chapter 3), wind (Chapter 4), wild beasts (Chapter 5), science fiction (Chapter 6) and spatial apartheid (Chapter 7). For more of a review of this book go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n16/michael-rogin/california-noir





RELIGION AND SCIENCE: AND ECOLOGY

I decided, after a little reflection, to place the following item in this ecology sub-section of the biological sciences is a summary of a Baha'i Studies Conference reported by the Baha'i World News Service in Septermber 2010. The heading was: Religion joins with science to address environmental issues.  I have included in italics some of my own comments on this report.

WASHINGTON, 17 September 2010

Part 1:

People’s spiritual beliefs influence their attitude toward climate change, with religious groups increasingly helping to frame humanity’s response to environmental issues. That was one of the messages from a session at the 33rd annual conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies, held in mid-August in Washington. The gathering drew nearly 1,000 participants from some 20 countries.

The theme of the conference was “Environments,” & one of the plenary speakers was Peter G. Brown, a geography professor at McGill University in Montreal who has participated in the Moral Economy Project of the Quaker Institute for the Future.  Dr. Brown said the current economic paradigm is bringing mayhem to the planet and that people need to learn to think of themselves as citizens, not consumers.

“We need a different image of ourselves,” he said, "an image that sees humanity as part of a long “co-evolutionary” process. Rather than asking
how to better exploit the earth's resources, humanity should be asking how to live with an ethic of respect and reciprocity for all life, he said. Here in Australia this sounds like the words of David Suzuki Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist who was a professor in the genetics department of the University of British Columbia from 1963 until his retirement in 2001.


Part 2:

Society’s concept of morality is too limited, he continued, suggesting that a moral framework must be applied to systems, not just to
individuals. “We have not been able to connect our scientific knowledge with our moral systems,” he noted. A Baha'i speaker, Peter Adriance, described how religious groups and faith communities are increasingly collaborating with the environmental movement. He quoted Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-founder of the Forum on Religion and Ecology, as saying that “no other group of institutions can wield the particular moral authority of the religions.” Of course, in our age, no other group of institutions has lost more of their moral authority than the historic religions which had their origins in the period before the middle ages in western civilization.

Mr. Adriance listed a dozen initiatives by various groups that focus on spiritual or moral aspects of creating a sustainable environment. Among
those that he mentioned were:

1-- A first-of-its-type report from the Sierra Club titled "Faith in Action: Communities of Faith Bring Hope for the Planet."
2-- Programs sponsored by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.
3-- A paper from the Worldwatch Institute titled “Engaging Religion in the Quest for a Sustainable World”; part of the text was included in the     2003 State of the World report.
4-- The Green Sanctuary program initiated by the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth.

Mr. Adriance quoted Gus Speth from the 2007 Yale Conference Report: “Religions played key roles in ending slavery, in the civil rights movement, and in overcoming apartheid in South Africa, and they are now turning their attention with increasing strength to the environment.” He also quoted from a 1991 statement by the Baha’i International Community calling for a spiritual response to address global problems.......“The changes required to reorient the world toward a sustainable future imply degrees of sacrifice, social integration, selfless action, and a unity of purpose rarely achieved in human history. These qualities have reached their highest degree of development through the power of religion.” To read the full article and see the photographs, go to: http://news.bahai.org/story/728. For the Baha’i World News Service
home page, go to: http://news.bahai.org

BEYOND JINGLING AND JANGLING

Cloud rolls over cloud; one train of thought suggests & is driven away by another; theory after theory is spun out of the bowels of his brain like the gossamer, stretched out, clinging to every possible object, flitting in the idle air, and glittering only in the air of fancy. His mind is everywhere finding its level, and feeling no limit but that of thought--now soaring with its head above the stars, now treading with fairy feet among flowers, every question giving birth to some new thought. There are ten thousand ideas, and he has left no trace behind. -William Hazlitt in Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic, David Bromwich, Oxford UP, NY, 1983, pp.258-9.

We may not find a trace of the traceless Friend,
but by God we’ll leave a trace here below while
the rolling clouds roll on, the endless dreams,
the trains of thought, spun out, stretched along,
entangled, clinging, flitting, glittering  in rays of
fancy, floating, finding their level--filling up with
gas or emptying out dry dock....soaring into the
stars where new galaxies’ light is from five BYA.

Treading in the flower beds of blue leschenaultia
and a billion balls of gold, with eyes soaring into
the fragrant jasmine, frangipani & blazing purple
jacaranda,(1) now winnowing the air with winged
words--passing among, circling around the great
in whatever way I can, for therein lies greatness,
not in that jangling mockery of my own paltry.....
understanding and its jingling of the ego, not
ecology but ego-ology.........their is the threat.(2)

21 February 2004

(1) These flowers and trees are to be found in Western Australia where I lived and travelled(1986 to 1999) before driving through the Central Highlands of Tasmania for the first time in 2004.
(2) This poem was first drafted in 1996 and revised on February 21st 2004 for The Central Highlands Annual Poetry Competition of 2004.


SERENITY

The value of a story, a novel, indeed a great deal of what is written in the arts or the humanities, is “the artist’s share in the total product.”(1) Price aims for words and phrases that are deep-flowing, near the sources of life. He is alternately at ease with his inspiration and submerged in it. The stream runs clear for Price, but with an immense complexity derived from deep ecology, an experientially-based and expanded sense of self; a deep metaphysics that finds its origins in the writings of the Central Figures of a new Faith; and the simple study of streams as geographical and bio-chemical systems. And so his poems have a range and a depth that take the reader flowing though clear waters, but in what may be somewhat unknown terrains with the waters flowing a little too fast, or a little too far distant for many readers to get to with their current resources.

There are a lot of words in what has become his total oeuvre, many million; indeed he stopped counting at some time in the first decade of his retirement from FT,PT and casual-volunteer work.  It takes some persistence to travel down Price’s streams.  But, he says, there is a payoff for those who try.  Anyway, the exercise is an optional one for readers; his rivers have many guidelines, many explanatory notes, many words to help readers on their way.  He provides small brochures as the beginning of his poems should you want to travel his way. His rivers also possess a serenity and insouciance, or so he likes to think.  Perhaps some of that serenity will rub off as you travel down the tributaries of his writing to the ocean of existence where is found every atom and the essenbce of all created things. -Ron Price with thanks to Author Unknown in D.H. Lawrence: The Critical Heritage, editor, R.P.Draper, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1970, p.195.

Perhaps there is an exaggerated sensibility
here: the full-flavour, savour, embellished,
overly done, a hungry man on heat, a little
too keen for your liking, a flame that wants
to embrace the world, give you that naked
truth right down into its bosom and heart,
a sense of the driven here, perhaps, a sense
of identity with all of life. Personal experience
as purest art, self-assertion & self-annihilation
in balance?!*

5 May 2000 to 31 May 2011


THE FIRST LAW

Gregory Bateson in his Steps Toward An Ecology of Mind argues that the ecological system as a whole is more important than the individual organisms that comprise it. The unit of survival is not the organism or the species but the entire environment. "Mind," to Bateson, "is a vast and integrated network." This statement seems to be eminently sensible and clearly one that is consistent with Baha'i philosophy and its approach to ecology.-Ron Price with thanks to Gregory Bateson(Chandler, San Francisco, 1972)
, quoted in Christopher Lasch, The Minimal Self, WW Norton, NY, 1984, p.258.

The poetic imagination
and selfhood itself
lies in an awareness
of my divided nature
and the immense gulf
between aspiration and limitation.
Such is the critical polarity
at the base of my life
and the foundation
of the Baha'i community,
producing, as it does,
the perpetual balancing act
of unstable and inner forces
we must reconcile or be torn apart.
Such is the first law of human psychic life1
as we accept that the whole is definitely
more than the sum of its parts.

1 Charles Fair, The New Nonsense: The End of the Rational Consensus, p.45.

13 May 2001


ANIMAL ECOLOGY

Animal ecology is one area of zoology.  Zoology studies consist of areas such as animal species & their taxonomic relations (systematics), animal  distribution and abundance within their range (zoogeography), interaction between species, individuals and their  environment (ecology) and whole animals as functional units (physiology). An ecologist most often operates with data gathered in the field; the data being either descriptive, inventory, comparative or experimental. Physiologists  conduct experimental studies on the structure and function of animal tissues and organs, usually working in the  laboratory. The different branches of zoology often overlap each other, and researchers must deal with a wide  range of questions, for example, in the fields of ecophysiology, or ecological biogeography. The Animal Ecology research groups at Department of Biology, University of Oulu, Finland: Population, conservation and evolutionary ecology;  Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology; Stream ecology group genetics , animal physiology and plant ecology in Dept. Biology, Univ. Oulu)



The Independent Citizen

In the 19th century the concept of individual initiative in service of common good strengthened the moral life of the community and simultaneously increased material welfare and nourished public spirit. The authors, Geertz, Goffman and Garfinkle, employ the term representative character: a public image that helps define, for a given group of people, just what kind of personality traits it is good and legitimate to develop. For Alexis de Tocqueville the representative character was the independent citizen. He was a man who held strongly to biblical religion, knew the duties and rights of citizenship, and was especially a self-made ''man.''  Representative characters(RCs) for these authors were not abstract ideals or social roles, but were realized in the lives of those who fused their individual personality with the public requirements of those roles. They were often the mainstay of myths and popular feeling, important sources of meaning for people in a particular culture. RCs were also focal points at which society encountered its problems as interpreted though a specific set of cultural understandings.

Although the focus of the new American democratic culture was on male roles, this achievement was sustained by a female-shaped moral ecology /environment.  This concept brought together or encompassed Motherhood and its roles. Male and female roles were seen as unequal in power ad prestige but largely complementary in rural America. With the increase of urbanization, however, women were more & more deprived of an economic role and the nature of their inequality became more visible and pronounced.......For the rest of the summary of this excellent book go to the following link or google the words: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. Benedict Richard O'Gorman Anderson (b.1936-) is Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Government & Asian Studies at Cornell University.  He is best known for his celebrated book Imagined Communities,1983.
  In this work Anderson systematically describes, using an historical materialist or Marxist approach, the major factors contributing to the emergence of nationalism in the world during the past three centuries. Anderson defined a nation as "an imagined political community that is imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign." For more go to: http://file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Ron/My%20Documents/Social%20Sciences/Soc&Anthro/Essays%20Others/Geertz,%20Goffman,%20Garfinkle.htm