The systems approach to ecological research.
AbstractThe systems approach to ecology developed from a recognition that studying the separate parts of an ecosystem was not enough. Accepting that there should always be room for individualistic research, the greatest need at present is for multi-disciplinary systems studies. Mathematical modelling is an important component of such studies but should be regarded as no more than a methodological tool. Two approaches to systems studies are presented. The first adopts the principle of successive approximation towards an increasingly complex description of the system, and aims to identify key research questions in the process. The second involves the use of an objective function, the variables within which are predicted by means of simulation modelling. Some guidelines are given for the use of systems modelling as an ecological research tool.
Keywords: aims; ecological research; ecology; function; modelling; process; research; simulation; simulation modelling; south africa; systems; systems approach