The Cybernetic Nature of Ecosystems

  title={The Cybernetic Nature of Ecosystems},
  author={Bernard C. Patten and Eugene P. Odum},
  journal={The American Naturalist},
  pages={886 - 895}
Cybernetic systems are systems with feedback (Wiener 1948). They are a special class of cause-and-effect (input-output) systems in which input is determined, at least in part, by output. The portion of output that is returned to input is the feedback, and this may become the basis for feedback control. Very small feedbacks may exert very large effects. Figure la illustrates a basic input-output system. Energy, matter, or information coming from the environment causes the system to respond; this… 

Adding artificial feedback to a simple aquatic ecosystem: the cybernetic nature of ecosystems revisited

The experimental addition of new feedback is apparently a useful means of investigating the self-organizational properties of ecosystems and may also improve the understanding of the consequences of anthropogenically induced feedback in natural and managed systems.

Ecosystems emerging:: 4. growth

Darwinian Evolution in Ecosystems: A Survey of Some Ideas and Difficulties Together with Some Possible Solutions

The result was two distinct things (dualism), organism and environment, supplanting the original unified organism—environment whole (synergism).

Ecosystem spatial self-organization: Free order for nothing?

The Regulation of Ecological Communities Through Feedback Loops: A Review

This review article describes how the application of control and dynamical systems theory has helped to unify previously conflicting hypotheses into a theory based on systems ecology, and enhanced understanding of the extent to which regulatory feedback mechanisms influence community and ecosystem dynamics.



System Theory of the Ecological Niche

To illustrate the span of the new system theory of the niche and its extension to environs, adaptation, succession, competitive exclusion, coevolution, niche (and environ) overlap, output niche, and dominance and control are each discussed within the new framework.

Environs: Relativistic Elementary Particles for Ecology

It is suggested that ecology lacks an elementary particle of its own, with discoverable properties that can clarify the nature of environment and its relationship to life, and what is known about it and some directions for learning more.

The Noncybernetic Nature of Ecosystems

Ecosystems lack (1) global information networks to integrate their parts, (2) low-energy cause and high-energy effect interactions to make the regulation of high-energy events possible, and (3)


The hypothesis that complexity and stability are positively correlated was experimentally tested at the ecosystem level of organization using intact terrestrial microcosms. Power spectral densities

Ecosystem Persistence and Heterotrophic Regulation

Mechanisms leading to ecosystem persistence are explored with a simple mathe- matical conceptualization and it is suggested that simple mathematical constructs, quantifiable from available data and amenable to direct analysis, have much to offer in increasing understanding of ecosystem function.

Stability and Complexity in Model Ecosystems

  • R. MayN. MacDonald
  • Environmental Science
    IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics
  • 1978
Preface vii Preface to the Second Edition Biology Edition 1. Intoduction 3 2. Mathematical Models and Stability 13 3. Stability versus Complexity in Multispecies Models 4. Models with Few Species: