Why are ecosystems important to study?

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Why are ecosystems important to study?
« on: 30/09/2011 19:01:05 »
Amila asked the Naked Scientists:
Why is the study of systematics of organisms important for biologists?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 30/09/2011 19:01:05 by _system »


Offline CliffordK

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Why are ecosystems important to study?
« Reply #1 on: 03/10/2011 05:20:18 »
There would be many reasons to study ecosystems and animals in their native environment.

One can learn more about animals, their diets, and habits by looking at them in their native environment rather than looking at how they are represented in a zoo.  Breeding programs in zoos can fail due to failure to understand the animal's natural habitat and life cycles.

As far as studying ecosystems.  One can learn a lot about our planet by studying nature on the planet.  However, we are also either intentionally or unintentionally making significant changes in the environment on our planet.  Studying ecosystems can help us gauge what is being changed, or the rapidity and extent of these changes.  Perhaps it will help us find remedies.  Or, will help us find better ways to fulfill our needs with less environmental damage. 

If a species is lost from certain areas, sometimes it can cause a cascade of losses of other species.  Or, overgrowth of even other species. 

In all cases, the first step is to understand what is "Normal".


Offline Mazurka

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Why are ecosystems important to study?
« Reply #2 on: 04/10/2011 11:09:18 »
Another important reason to study ecosystems is to understand the "services" they provide.

Ecosystems are often in an unstable equilbrium with other environmental factors (such as temperature and precipitation).  Landuse change and pollution can adversely affect the equilbrium and cause no end of harm to a particular ecosystem.  Understanding a particular ecosystem can mitigate these adverse effects or enable restoration.

Ecosystem services provide significant direct value to mankind by providing pollintation of food crops and flood storage capacity etc.