Ecosystem and Landscapes - A Critical Comparative Appraisal

Open access

Ecosystem and Landscapes - A Critical Comparative Appraisal

Ecosystems and landscapes are the two major spatial units for ecological research and practice, but their definitions and meanings are vague and ambiguous. Examining critically the meaning and complexity of both terms from a holistic landscape ecological systems view, the confusing applications of the ecosystem concept could be avoided by conceiving ecosystems as functional interacting systems, characterized for the flow of energy, matter and information between organisms and their abiotic environment. As functional systems they are intangible with vaguely defined borders. On the other hand, landscapes should be recognized as tangible, spatially and temporally well defined ecological systems of closely interwoven natural and cultural entities of the Total Human Ecosystem. Ranging from the smallest discernable landscape cell or ecotope to the global ecosphere, they serve as the spatial and functional matrix and living space for all organisms, including humans, their populations and their ecosystems. Both are medium-numbered complex ecological systems. However, the organized complexity of ecosystems is based solely on the monodimensional complexity of material processes of flow of energy/matter and biophysical information. But the organized complexity of landscapes is multidimensional and multifunctional, dealing not only with the functional dimensions of natural bio-ecological processes and the natural biophysical information, but also with the cognitive mental and perceptual dimensions, transmitted by cultural information and expressed in the closely interwoven natural and cultural landscape.

Allen, T. H. F., Hoekstra, T. W. (1992). Toward a Unified Ecology. New York: Colombia University Press.

Alberti, M., Marzluff, J. M., Schulenberger, E., Bradley, G., Ryan, C. & Craig, Z. (2003). Integrating humans into ecology: Opportunities and challenges for studying urban ecosystems. Bio-Science 53, 1169-1179.

Bastian, O., Steinhardt, U. (2002). Development and Perspectives of Landscape Ecology. Dodrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Breuste, J. H., Feldman, H. & Uhlmann, O. (1998). Urban Ecology. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer.

Carmel, Y., Naveh, Z. (2002). The paradigm of landscape and the paradigm of ecosystems - implications for landscape planning and management in the Mediterranean region. Journal of Mediterranean Ecology, 3, 35-46.

Cadenasso, M. L., Pickett, T. A., Weathers, K. C., Bell, S. S., Benning, T. I., Carreiro, M. M., & Dawson, T. E. (2003). BioScience 53:717-722.

Cadenasso, M., Pickett, S. T. A., & Grove, J. M. (2006). Dimensions of ecosystem complexity: Heterogeneity, connectivity, and history. Ecological Complexity 3:1-12.

Connell, J. H., Noble, I. R. & Slatyer, R. O. (1987). On the mechanisms producing successional change. Oikos 50: 136-137.

De Leo, Levin, S. A. (1997). The multifaceted aspects of ecosystem integrity. Conservation Ecology (online) 1.

Green, D. G., Komp, N., Kimmington, G. & Sadedin, S. (2006). Complexity in Landscape Ecology. Springer Landscape Series, Dodrecht, The Netherlands.

Green, J. L., Hastings, A., Arzberger, P., Ayala, F. J., Cottingham, K. L., Cuddington, K., Davis, F., Dunne, J. F., Fortin, M., Gerber, L. & Neubert, M. (2005). Complexity in ecology and conservation: Mathematical, statistical, and computational challenges. BioScience 55:501-510.

Forman, R. T.T, Godron, M. (1986). Landscape Ecology. Wiley and Sons, New York.

Forman, R. T. T. (1995). Land Mosaics. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Grossmann, W. D., Naveh Z. (2000). Transdisciplinary challenges for regional sustainable development toward the post-industrial information society. Proceedings of the Third International Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics. May 3-6. Vienna. pp. 1-3.

Gunderson, L. H., Holling, C. S. (2002). Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural systems. Island Press, Washington, D. C.

Haber, W. (1990). Basic concepts of landscape ecology and their application in land management. Physiology and Ecology in Japan, 27:131-146.

Haber, W. (2004). The ecosystem- power of a metaphysical construct. Landschaftsoekolgie in Weihenstephan, Heft 13. Freising 2004:25-48.

Haken, H. (1987). Advanced Synergetics. Springer, Berlin.

Holling, C. S. (2000). Theories for sustainable futures. Conservation Ecology, 4: 7 (Editorial) Retrieved 2009, February, from

Jantsch, E. (1980). The Self-Organizing Universe. Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Joergensen, S. E. (1997). Integration of Ecosystem Theories. A Pattern. Second revised edition. Dodrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Jorgensen, S. E., Muller, F. (2000). Handbook of Ecosystem Theories and Management. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton.

Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The Structure of the Scientific Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lange, E., Miller, D. (2005). Our shared landscape: integrating ecological, socio-economic and aesthetic aspects in landscape planning and management. Proceedings of a conference at Ascona, Switzerland, May 2-6 2005, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ITH Zurich.

Laszlo, E. (1987). Evolution: The Grand Synthesis. Shambala, New Science Library, Boston.

Laszlo, E. (1994). The Choice: Evolution or Extinction. A Thinking Person's Guide to Global Issues. New York: C. P. Putnam & Sons.

Laszlo, E. (2002). The Connectivity Hypothesis. Foundations of an Integral Science of Quantum, Cosmos, Life, and Consciousness. Foreword by Ralph H. Abraham. State University of New York Press., New York.

Laszlo, E. (2004). Science and the Akashi Field An Integral Theory of Everything. Inner Traditions Rochester, Vermont.

Leser, H. (1999). Landschaftsoekologie. Eugen Ulmer,. Stuttgart.

Li, B. L. (2000). Why is the holistic approach becoming so important in landscape ecology? Landscape and Urban Planning, 50:27-47.

Li, B. L. (2001). Fuzzy statistical and modeling approach to ecological assessments. In: Jensen, M. E., Bourgeron, P. E. (Eds.): A Guidebook for Integrated Ecological Assessments. pp. 211-220. Springer-Verlag, New York.

Likens, G. E., Borman, F, H., Pierce, R. S. Eaton, J. S., & Johnson, N. M. (1997). Biogeochemistry of a Forested Ecosystem. Springer, New York.

Lindeman, R. L. (1942). The trophic-dynamic aspect of ecology. Ecology, 23:399

Loeffler, J. (2002). Landscape structures and processes. In: Bastian, O., Steinhardt, U. Development and Perspectives of Landscape Ecology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dodrecht, The Netherlands.

McDonnell, M. J., Pickett, S. T. A. (1993). Humans as Components of Ecosystems. The Ecology of Subtle Human Effects and Populated Areas. Springer New York, Berlin, Heidelberg:

Naveh, Z. (1971). Conservation of ecological diversity of Mediterranean ecosystems through ecological management. In: Duffy, E. & Watt, A. S. (Eds.), The Scientific Management of Animal and Plant Communities for Conservation. 605-622 pp. Blackwell Sci. Publ., London

Naveh, Z. (1984). The vegetation of the Carmel and Nahal Sefunim and the evolution of the cultural landscape. In: Ronen, A. (Ed.) Sefunim Prehistoric Sites in Mount Carmel. pp. 23-63. B. A. R. International Series 230. Oxford

Naveh, Z. (1994). From Biodiversity to ecodiversity: a landscape-ecological approach to conservation and restoration. Restoration Ecology 2:180-189.

Naveh, Z. (1998a). From biodiversity to ecodiversity - holistic conservation of biological and cultural diversity of Mediterranean landscapes. In: Montenegro, G., Jaksic, F. & Rundel, P. W. (Eds.). Landscape Disturbance and Biodiversity in Mediterranean-Type Ecosystems. pp. 23-54. Ecological Studies 136, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Naveh, Z. (1998b). Culture and landscape conservation: A landscape ecological perspective. In: Gopal, B. P., Pathak, P, Saxena, K. G. (Eds.) Ecology Today: An Anthology of Contemporary Ecological Research. International Scientific Publications, pp.19-48, New Delhi

Naveh, Z. (2000). What is holistic landscape ecology? A conceptual introduction. Landscape and Urban Planning, 50, 7-26.

Naveh, Z. (2001). Ten major premises for a holistic conception of multifunctional landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning 57:269-284.

Naveh, Z., Lieberman, A. S. (1994). Landscape Ecology Theory and Application. Second Edition. Springer, New York, Berlin, Heidelberg

Naveh, Z., Carmel, Y. (2003). The evolution of the cultural landscape in Israel as effected by fire, grazing, and human activities. In: Wasser, S. P. (Ed.), Papers in Honor of Eviatar Nevo. Evolutionary Theories and Processes. pp.397-401. Modern Horizons. Kluwer, Academic Publishers, Dodrecht

Naveh, Z. (2007a). The role of fire in the evolution of the Mediterranean cultural landscape in the Pleistocene and Early Holocene with special reference to Mt. Carmel. Transdisciplinary challenges in Landscape Ecology and Restoration Ecology - an Anthology. Springer Landscape Series. pp. 353-403.

Naveh, Z. (2007b). The transformation of landscape ecology and restoration ecology into transdisciplinary sciences of holistic landscape study, management, planning, conservation and restoration. Transdisciplinary Challenges in Landscape Ecology and Restoration Ecology - an Anthology. Springer, Landscape Series. pp. 353-403.

Noss, R. F. (2001). Maintaining ecological integrity of landscapes and eco- regions. In Noss, R. F. (Ed.): Ecological integrity: integrating environment, conservation, and health. p. 191-208. Island Press, Washington, D. C.

Odum, E. P. (1997). Fundamentals of Ecology. Third Edition. W. B. Saunders Company. Philadelphia.

Odum, E. P. (1993). Ecology and Our Endangered Life-Support Systems. Saunders Associated, Inc. Publishers, Sunderland, Massachusetts.

O'Neill, R. V., D. L. De Angelis, Waide, J. B. & Allen, T. F. H. (1986). A hierarchical concept of ecosystems. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

O'Neill, R. V. (2001). Is it time to bury the ecosystem concept? (with full military honors, of course!) Ecology, 82, 3275-3284.

Pacala, S. W., Canham, C. D. & Silander, J. A. Jr. (1993). Forest models defined by field measurements: I. The design of a northeastern forest simulator. Canadian Journal of Forrest Research, 23(10): 1980-1988.

Palang, A., Soovali, H. Antrop, M. & Setten, G. (2004). European Rural Landscapes: Persistence and Change in a Globalizing Environment. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dodrecht/Boston/London.

Pickett, A., White, S. (1985). The ecology of Natural Disturbance and Patch Dynamic. New York: Academic Press.

Prigogine, I. (1976). Order through fluctuations: Self-organization and social systems. In Jantsch, E. (Ed.), Evolution and Consciousness: Human Systems in Transition, pp. 93-130. Waddington Reading Addison-Wesley, Massachusetts.

Prigogine, L. (1997). The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature. The Free Press, New York.

Prigogine, I., Stengers, I. (1984). Order out of Chaos. Man's Dialogue with Nature. New Science Library Shamabala, Boston and London.

Risser, P. G. (1987). Landscape Ecology: State of the Art. In Turner, M. G. (Ed.), Landscape Heterogeneity and Disturbance. p. 314. Springer, New York

Sagoff, M. (2001). Ecosystem design in historical and philosophical context. In Noss, R. F. W. (Ed.), Ecological integrity: integrating environment, conservation, and health. pp. 61-78. Island Press, Washington, D. C.

Schultz, A. M. (1967). The ecosystem as a conceptual tool in the management of natural resources. In: Cirancy-Wantrup, S. V., Parsons, J. J. (Eds.) Natural Resources: Quality and Quantity, pp.139-161. University Press, Berkeley

Tansley, A. G. (1935). The use and abuse of vegetational concepts and terms. Ecology, 43:284-307.

Turner, M. G., Gardner, R. & O'Neil, R. V. O. (2001). Landscape Ecology in Theory and Practice. Pattern and Process. Springer, New York.

Troll, G. (1971). Landscape ecology (geo-ecology) and its bio-ceonology - a terminology study. Geoforum 8:43-46.

Weinberg, G. (1975). An Introduction to General Systems Thinking. Willey, New York.

Whittaker, R. H. (1975). Communities and Ecosystems. 2nd edition Macmillan, New York.

World Resources 2000-2001 (2000). People and Ecosystems. The Fraying Web of Life. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science. Retrieved 2009, March, from

Wu, J. (2007). Past, present and future of landscape ecology. Editorial. Landscape Ecology, 22:1433-1435.

Wu, J., Hobbs, R. (2002). Key issues and research priorities in landscape ecology: An idiosyncratic synthesis. Landscape Ecology, 17: 335-365.

Zonneveld, I. S. (1995). Land Ecology. An Introduction to Landscape Ecology as a Basis for Land Evaluation, Land Management and Conservation. SPB. Academic Publishing, Oxford. U. K.

Journal of Landscape Ecology

The Journal of Czech National Chapter of the Association for Landscape Ecology (CZ-IALE)

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 0.68

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.245
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.560

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 844 844 124
PDF Downloads 335 335 58