Aristotle suggested that all natural objects could be distinguished in terms of a natural and characteristic activity. Can we apply this approach to an ecosystem? Do different elements of an ecosystem perform different functions within that system? Could you reason from such ecological facts to normative conclusions about what should be? Why or why not?
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The answer is both yes, and no. That s a given component of an ecosystem plays an integral role (or roles) with the matrix of all that is there. However, if we remove a "cog", often times other components will assume the function, absorb the need for the function, or preclude the need for that functional element.
Let us consider resource partioning in a tree. Often times various sorts of birds will lay claim to certain segments of a tree environment: the upper canopy, lower canopy, mid-interior, trunk area, etc. A prime example of this would be the classic finches in the Galapagos as detailed by Darwin There, a single species radiated and adapted to take advantage of various food sources, not JUST in the trees, but also on the ground, etc. If one of these were to suddenly go "poof" then the food source (bugs, seeds, whatever) would begin to increase until either: A) that food item exceeds its own level of sustainability ...
Examines current view of ecosystem functions as compared to an Aristolean perspective of functionality. HTML with live outlinks.