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Fundamental Processes in EcologyAn earth systems approach$
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David M Wilkinson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198568469

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198568469.001.0001

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Merging of organismal and ecological physiology

Merging of organismal and ecological physiology

(p.68) 6. Merging of organismal and ecological physiology
Fundamental Processes in Ecology

David M. Wilkinson

Oxford University Press

All organisms modify their environment to some extent. Daisyworld models illustrate the theoretical possibility that these modifications could lead to planetary regulation for life friendly conditions, but also illustrate the need for substantial biomass for this to occur. In academic ecology, the recent concentration on biodiversity may have tended to obscure the fundamental importance of biomass, which will often be dominated by a limited number of species. This ‘mass ratio’ effect is important both at the ecological community and planetary scale. Once biomass is sufficient for the merging of organismal and ecological physiology, then the planet will tend to show some level of regulation for life friendly conditions. The size of this effect is currently a key unknown in both Earth based environmental science and astrobiology.

Keywords:   Daisyworld, biodiversity, biomass, mass ratio, regulation

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