Contributions to Science, Vol 7, No 1 (2011)

Evolution the ecosystem level: On the evolution of ecosystem patterns

Simon A. Levin

Abstract


As environmental problems like overpopulation, overfishing, pollution and acid rain commanded greater public attention, much focus shifted to biogeochemical linkages, and to holistic studies of whole ecosystems. Ramon Margalef recognized as forcefully as anyone the remarkable intellectual leverage one could gain by transferring the unique perspectives and advances from one field to another. In this article I discuss the nascent unification of population biology and ecosystemsscience. Sustainable management requires that we relate the macroscopic features of communities and ecosystems to the microscopic details of individuals and populations. I argue thatthe distinctions that have prevented this synthesis are artificial, and that we need to overcome them to build a science that allows us to deal with the loss of the benefits we derive from ecosystems.


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ISSN: 2013-410X (electronic edition); 1575-6343 (print edition)