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Green news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
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by Rob Rutherford
on November 3, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Thanks for the opportunity to share thoughts. Any discussion of terms with the prefix of "eco" should reflect that the origin of that syllable comes from the Greek "oikos" meaning home. When we refer to the ecosystem - we are considering the network of relationships of our home. To often, people refer to the ecosystem as a thing (rather than relationships) that exists "over there" rather than something of which we are all a part.  
 
Ecosystem services, in my view, has become a co-opted term to some extent in that it is not appreciated in its broader context. I would expand the normal list of things to include homeostasis, regulated stream flow, balance, and yes, peacefullness.  
 
Of the relationships that need more understanding, none is more critical than the duration of the relationship. As an example, my wife's college room-mate visited last month. She has a PhD in Lichenology. She is a very unique and intense individual. The nature of the relationship between myself and her was very different from the first and second day and the 20th day. Whether she came back after one week or whether she didn't come back for a year would produce very different impacts. The same thought process can be applied to the relationship of a grazing animal and a given area of rangeland. What is happening biologically on the first day is likely to be highly different than what happens on day 3 or 5. It is also highly likely to make a difference whether the cow/ewe/doe comes back to that spot after 3 weeks or a year. The research is woefully inadequate at this point to understand the differences in the relationships - and therefore the impact on biospheric processes - and therefore the delivery of ecosystem services - of these differences in timing.
 
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