GEOG030 Chapter 4 Notes.docx

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Department
Geography
Course
GEOG 030
Professor
Petra Tschakert
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 4 - Ecosystems and Social Systems as ComplexAdaptive Systems • Ecosystems and social systems are complex adaptive systems o complex b/c they have many parts and many connections between the parts o adaptive b/c their feedback structure gives them the ability to change in ways that promote survival in a fluctuating environment • emergent properties: the distinctive features and behavior that ‘emerge’ from the way that complex adaptive systems are organized o Self-organization. o Stability domains. o Complex system cycles • Biological systems have a hierarchy of organizational levels that extends from molecules and cells to individual organisms, populations and ecosystems. o emergent properties- characteristic behaviors which emerge at that level; function synergistically at each level of organization to give that level a life of its own which is greater than the sum of its parts  Because the parts are interconnected, the behavior of every part is shaped by feedback loops through the rest of the system.  Positive and negative feedback promotes growth and change in the system as a whole. • Emergent properties are easiest to perceive in individual organisms. o Ex. With jellyfish - basic emergent properties = growth, development of different tissues and organs, homeostasis, reproduction and death. o Richness of expression of emergent properties increases with the complexity of the organism  Ex. Vision and the perception of color are emergent images o Emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, hate, happiness and love are also emergent properties. o Examples of emergent properties at the population level of organization= The sigmoid curve for population growth, population regulation, genetic evolution and social organization • The food supply for each species depends on o the ecosystem’s biological production o the amount of the ecosystem’s biological production that the food web channels to that particular species • Emergent property of ecosystems and social systems = counterintuitive behavior o Counterintuitive behavior - the opposite of what we expect  Ex. construction of public housing in the United States during the decades after World War II • Was supposed to reduce poverty by providing decent housing to low-income families that they could afford ▯ people to move to cities even if their weren’t jobs ▯ public houses where turned into ghettos of poverty  Ex. Forest managers trying to reduce fire damage by putting out fires, but the result was even more damage o Ecosystems and social systems are sometimes counterintuitive b/c they are not easily understood by people whose main existence is at a different level of organization - the level of an individual inside the ecosystem and social system.  Explains why we can’t predict ultimate consequences of our actions • Emergent Properties of Social Systems o Distortion of information  Ex. Telephone game o Denial – refusal to recognize or accept the truth when it conflicts with existing beliefs  ex. Blaming small-scale peasant farmers for deforestation even though they usually use resources in a good way  ex. 1950s and 2960s – ecologists warned public about the impending dangers of population growth and environmental ruin… people denied it through decades and many environmental disasters o ex. of emergent properties in human social systems through bureaucracies:  not effective in dealing with unusual situations  often do things contrary to their mission for the sake of survival Self-Assembly • Ecosystems organize themselves by means of an assembly process resembling natural selection. • Biological community- all the plants, animals, and microorganisms living in an ecosystem o Can be joined by new species if their births exceed deaths (while their population is small) • Community assembly- process selecting species from a larger pool of species living in the surround
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