death cap & Gliriform mammals
termites at USP.BR
Fri Apr 7 12:28:17 CDT 2000
>You hit the mail on the head. You really move into other dimensions when
>you no longer consider that an animal or plant is part of an ecosystem, but
>is an ecosystem in itself for bacteria, fungi, protozoa etc. The breakdown
>of cellulose in ruminants, for example is carried out not by the animal,
>but by its microflora. Then there are cases when the symbionts of certain
>insects seem to influence the sex life of the host. Instead of
>investigating the biodiversity of tropical rain forsets one could also do
>the "biodiversity of the cow".
That seems to be a problem of scaling! I suppose that an ecosystem always
comprises much larger scales than its inhabitants. Only a large scaled
ecosystem can provide to its inhabitants varying abiotic factors, environmental
gradients, energy sinks and sources, in sum: all that stuff that is of interest
for the ecologist.
Now it seems to be that bacteria and protozoa are sufficiently small, so their
habitat, for example the gut, can studied as if it were an ecosystem.
I wonder, for example in the case of termite, how a bridge of research can be
found between the large scaled ecosystems (rain forests where the termites
live) and the micro scaled ecosystem (gut where bacteria live). In general
methods and objectives in both research lines differ profoundly.
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