About ecosystem

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overview

source 01 [Wikipedia, 2014]

environment – systems perspective

… in science and engineering, a system is the part of the universe that is being studied …

… while the environment is the remainder of the universe that lies outside the boundaries of the system …

… it is also known as the surroundings …

… and in thermodynamics, as the reservoir …

… depending on the type of system, it may interact with the environment by exchanging:

  • mass
  • energy (including heat and work)
  • linear momentum
  • angular momentum
  • electric charge
  • or other conserved properties …

… in some disciplines, such as information theory, information may also be exchanged …

environment – natural

… the natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on earth or some region thereof …

… it is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species …

… the natural environment is often used as a synonym for habitat …

… for instance, when we say that the natural environment of giraffes is the savanna …

… the concept of the natural environment can be distinguished by components:

  • complete ecological units that function as natural systems without massive human intervention, including all vegetation, microorganisms, soil, rocks, atmosphere, and natural phenomena that occur within their boundaries …
  • universal natural resources and physical phenomena that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water, and climate, as well as energy, radiation, electric charge, and magnetism, not originating from human activity …

biomes

… biomes are terminologically similar to the concept of ecosystem …

… biomes are climatically and geographically defined areas of ecologically similar climatic conditions on the earth …

… such as communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, often referred to as ecosystems …

… biomes are defined on the basis of factors such as

  • plant structures (such as trees, shrubs, and grasses),
  • leaf types (such as broadleaf and needleleaf),
  • plant spacing (forest, woodland, savanna), and
  • climate …

… unlike ecozones, biomes are not defined by genetic, taxonomic, or historical similarities …

… biomes are often identified with particular patterns of ecological succession and climax vegetation …

environment – biophysical

… the biophysical environment is the biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism or population …

… it includes the factors that have an influence in their survival, development and evolution …

… the term environment can refer to different concepts, but is often used as a short form for the biophysical environment …

… this practice is common, for instance, among governments which entitle agencies dealing with the biophysical environment with denominations such as environment agency …

… whereas the expression "the environment" is often used to refer to the global environment …

… usually in relation to humanity, the number of biophysical environments is countless, given that it is always possible to consider an additional living organism that has its own environment …

… all life that has survived must have adapted to conditions of its environment …

… temperature, light, humidity, soil nutrients, etc., all influence any species, within any environment …

… however life in turn modifies, in various forms, its conditions …

… some long term modifications along the history of our planet have been significant, such as the incorporation of oxygen to the atmosphere …

… this process consisted in the breakdown of carbon dioxide by anaerobic microorganisms that used the carbon in their metabolism and released the oxygen to the atmosphere …

… this led to the existence of oxygen-based plant and animal life, the great oxygenation event …

… other interactions are more immediate and simple, such as the smoothing effect that forests have on the temperature cycle, compared to neighboring unforested areas …

environment – social

… the social environment, social context, sociocultural context, or milieu, refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops …

… it includes the culture that the individual was educated or lives in and …

… the people and institutions with whom they interact …

… the interaction may be in person or through communication media, even anonymous or one-way …

… and may not imply equality of social status …

… therefore the social environment is a broader concept than that of social class or social circle …

phenomenology

… phenomenologists contrast two alternative visions of society:

  • as a deterministic constraint (milieu) and
  • as a nurturing shell (ambiance) …

… max scheler distinguishes between milieu as an experienced value-world …

… and the objective social environment on which we draw to create the former …

… noting that the social environment can either foster or restrain our creation of a personal milieu …

solidarity

… people with the same social environment often develop a sense of social …

… they often tend to trust and help one another, and to congregate in social groups …

… they will often think in similar styles and patterns even when their conclusions differ …

environment – knowledge

… in the broadest sense knowledge environments are:

  • social practices
  • technological and physical arrangements …

… intended to facilitate:

  • collaborative knowledge building,
  • decision making,
  • inference or discovery …

… depending on the epistemological premises and goals …

… epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and is also referred to as "theory of knowledge” …

… knowledge environments departing from constructivist epistemology assume that knowledge about a domain is built in and results from cognitive and/or social practices …

… from this point of view the primary purpose of knowledge environments is to host and support activities of knowledge building …

… the means including:

  • cognitive ergonomics,
  • social software,
  • immediate information access exploiting means of multimedia and hypertext,
  • content contribution functionalities and
  • structured ontologies …

… wikipedia itself is prototypical example of a knowledge environment in this sense …

… from another perspective, the purpose of a knowledge environment can be defined as to facilitate consistent knowledge outcomes …

… knowledge outcomes reveal themselves as learning, communication, goals, decisions, etc …

… consistent knowledge outcomes imply:

  • predictable learning results or
  • replicable communication results and
  • predictable quality of decisions …

… the design of knowledge environments is both commonplace activity and specialised expert work …

… at a simplistic level every teacher, every author, every librarian and every database manager is a creator of a knowledge environment …

… at a specialised level knowledge environments need sophisticated architecture and modeling capabilities …

… this is necessary when the creator of the knowledge environment wants to deliver replicaple results in hundreds of specific instances of the same knowledge environment …

… on the other hand, the strengthening trend of public authorship leads to open-ended ontologies by means of, say tagging or folksonomies …

… in a significant sense, knowledge environments are in such cases created not only by their authors or owners but also by the contributors of their ontologies …

… ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations …