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Episodic events: their relevance to ecology and evolution
Boero, F. (1996). Episodic events: their relevance to ecology and evolution, in: Dworschak, P.C. et al. (Ed.) Influences of Organisms on their Environment, the Role of Episodic Events: Proceedings of the 29th European Marine Biology Symposium Vienna, 29 August-2 September 1994. Marine Ecology (Berlin), 17(1-3): pp. 237-250
In: Dworschak, P.C.; Stachowitsch, M.; Ott, J.A. (Ed.) (1996). Influences of organisms on their environment, the role of episodic events: Proceedings of the 29th European Marine Biology Symposium Vienna, 29 August-2 September 1994. European Marine Biology Symposia, 29. Marine Ecology (Berlin), 17(1-3). 568 pp., more
In: European Marine Biology Symposia., more

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Document type: Conference paper

    Aquatic communities > Benthos
    Aquatic communities > Plankton
    Biological phenomena > Evolution
    Cycles > Life cycle
    Interspecific relationships > Predation

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    An episodic event can be one of the many ''episodes'' forming a normal flow of related events. But it can also be an ''incident'' interrupting a trend and initiating a new one. Appreciation of contrasting meanings of apparently identical categories of phenomena is familiar to evolutionary biologists who, for instance, envisage evolution as the result of both gradual and punctuated events. Seasonal plankton blooms (both normal and noxious), species outbreaks, mass mortalities, and human predation are taken as examples of ''episodes'' that can influence and/or modify what we perceive as ''normality''. Recruitment is another example of an episodic event heavily conditioning both community structure and function, as recently highlighted by the so-called supply-side ecology. The reductionistic study of ecology, more linked to thermodynamics than to history, allowed the formulation of general ecological laws which, however, stem from the laws of thermodynamics. The totalizing value of such laws blurs appreciation of heterogeneity and change, so that many ecologists tend to be rather conservative, using a concept like ''conservation'' as an absolute paradigm to follow and to consider ''change'' as an a priori negative phenomenon. Episodes can have a ''conservative'' or ''innovative'' meaning, and are the driving force of the history of life. Their importance is recognized mainly when dealing with the history of organisms (evolutionary biology), whereas the assemblages of organisms (i.e., communities) are too often described and interpreted in an ahistorical context or in a too narrow time frame. Recognition of the importance of history in ecology (evolutionary ecology) can lead to a better understanding of environmental dynamics, albeit restricting the supposed predictive strength of ecology, a science timely integrating the reductionistic-thermodynamic approach with the holistic-historical one.

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