Communities and Ecosystems



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Macmillan Company


On the surface of the earth living organisms and their environments form a thin film, the biosphere. A pervasive interrelatedness of living things and environments to one another characterizes the biosphere. Organisms form interacting systems or communities, these communities are coupled to their environments by transfer of matter and energy, and communities and environments of the biosphere as a whole are related by movements of air, water, and organisms. The biosphere is man's environment, and man is now altering the biosphere in ways disadvantageous to himself. The importance of understanding the natural systems formed by organisms and environments for its own sake and for the sake of man's future is not always granted in civilization guided by technology, despite the increasing emphasis of functional systems in technology. The study of living systems in relation to environment is the science of ecology. Because of the wide range of concerns of ecology it is difficult to treat in a single book. In developing the Macmillan series "Current Concepts in Biology," it is though better to prepare two books representing major divisions of the science. Much ecological understanding can be integrated around populations as living systems and the manner in which populations function in relation to enviroment; this aspect of ecology is the subject of The Ecology of Populations by Arthur S. Boughey. Much ecological understanding can be integrated also around the concepts of communities as assemblages of different species which interact with one another, and ecosystems as functional systems formed by communities and their environments. These aspects of ecology are dealt with in Communities and Ecosystems. The two books are designed to complement one another and to serve as introductions to ecology either separately or together. An additional important part of ecology is represented in the series by David E. Davis's Integral Animal Behavior. The reader will find the present book concerns the structure of natural communities, the function of ecosystems, and the problems of man's relations to the biosphere.


162 pages