Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10316/7841
Title: Ascendency as Ecological Indicator for Environmental Quality Assessment at the Ecosystem Level: A Case Study
Authors: Patrício, J. 
Ulanowicz, R. 
Pardal, M. 
Marques, J. 
Issue Date: 2006
Citation: Hydrobiologia. 555:1 (2006) 19-30
Abstract: Previous studies have shown that when an ecosystem consists of many interacting components it becomes impossible to understand how it functions by focussing only on individual relationships. Alternatively, one can attempt to quantify system behaviour as a whole by developing ecological indicators that combine numerous environmental factors into a single value. One such holistic measure, called the system ‘ascendency’, arises from the analysis of networks of trophic exchanges. It deals with the joint quantification of overall system activity with the organisation of the component processes and can be used specifically to identify the occurrence of eutrophication. System ascendency analyses were applied to data over a gradient of eutrophication in a well documented small temperate intertidal estuary. Three areas were compared along the gradient, respectively, non eutrophic, intermediate eutrophic, and strongly eutrophic. Values of other measures related to the ascendency, such as the total system throughput, development capacity, and average mutual information, as well as the ascendency itself, were clearly higher in the non-eutrophic area. When the whole-system properties of the three areas were compared, however, the values associated with the intermediate eutrophic area turned out to be the lowest, which possibly could be attributed to the unstable nature of this area. The current study provided an example of how the measures arising out of?network analysis might lead to an improved understanding of the system functioning and of the eutrophication process itself.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10316/7841
DOI: 10.1007/s10750-005-1102-8
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FCTUC Ciências da Vida - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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