Articles | Volume 13, issue 1
Standard article
04 Jul 2013
Standard article |  | 04 Jul 2013

The ecosystem: research and practice in North America

S. Bocking

Abstract. Since the early 1940s, the ecosystem approach has been developed in a variety of forms by North American ecologists. Lindeman established its foundation, with his focus on functional components and energy transfers between trophic levels; this view was developed further by several ecologists, including G. Evelyn Hutchinson, and H. T. and E. P. Odum. Ecosystem ecology eventually became closely associated with powerful American institutions, such as the Atomic Energy Commission, receiving ample support; in association with the International Biological Program it became known as "big ecology''. More recently, ecosystem ecology has exhibited strengthened interest in spatial patterns, the role of species in ecosystems, and global change. This history has encompassed various ontological, methodological, ethical and political claims regarding the place of this approach in the discipline of ecology and in environmental governance.