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The most direct and realistic approach to quantifying ecosystems is to measure their supporting networks of flows of materials and energy. The growth and development of such networks may be quantified by applying information theory to the data on flows. Once development has been formalized, other heretofore subjective notions, such as “eutrophication” and ecosystem “health,” take on more precise, quantitative significance.
aquatic toxicology, ecosystem theory, food webs, information theory, thermodynamics, self-organization, eutrophication, ecosystem health, networks
Professor, University of Maryland, Center for Environmental & Estuarine Studies, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Solomons, MD