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Food Webs (MPB-50)$
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Kevin S. McCann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691134178

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691134178.001.0001

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The Balance of Nature: What Is It and Why Care?

The Balance of Nature: What Is It and Why Care?

(p.3) Chapter One The Balance of Nature: What Is It and Why Care?
Food Webs (MPB-50)

Kevin S. McCann

Princeton University Press

This book explores how interaction strength affects the dynamics of food webs. It aims to conceptually synthesize our current understanding of one of the big questions in ecology and evolution: What governs ecological stability? The book discusses the consequences of human impacts for the intricate, detailed spatial and temporal structure that underlies most pristine ecosystems. It asserts that ecologists never saw the balance of nature as a perfect equilibrium process. This chapter defines stability and examines the role whole systems play in governing stable ecosystem function. It also considers the stability problem by presenting examples that illustrate how humans cause ecological instability and ecosystem collapse. It concludes with an overview of the book's proposed theory about food webs and ecosystems that can help elucidate the ways that perturbations (such as human impact) ought to influence the sustainability of ecosystems.

Keywords:   interaction strength, food webs, ecological stability, human impacts, ecosystems, nature, equilibrium, ecological instability, ecosystem collapse, sustainability

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