Ecosystems are areas in which the organisms and environment interact with each other and among the different species. It can be as tiny as the microbes inhabiting the mucus membrane of humans. Such an ecosystem is termed as microbiota. Ecosystem can also be used in a larger context as the biosphere.
Perhaps the most prominent impact of urbanization is the creation of new ecosystems generally termed as techno ecosystems. These form a part of the domesticated ecosystems which included agro ecosystems and agro forest systems additionally. Technoecosystems are not limited to urban environment. There are rural techno ecosystems which include small towns, industries and transportation corridors.
These ecosystems are antrhropogenic meaning they result from action of humans on nature. These ecosystems have powerful energy sources and display progress in technology. The present technoecosystems are more competitive and parasitic to the natural systems. For a more progressive development, this has to change to a mutualistic positive relation.
The term 'technoecosystem' was first coined by Zev Naveh in 1982. The relationship of technoecosystem to the ecosphere was termed as 'total human ecosystem' by Naveh in 2000.
Differences from natural ecosystems
1. Inputs of energy include fossil fuels, alternate energy sources, natural resources etc in addition to the radiant energy of the sun.
2. The out put of natural ecosystem is the nutrients which entered the ecosystem. The Technoecosystems result in emission of toxic compounds which pollute the air and water resources.
3. Natural ecosystems strive to maintain sustainability.
4. Energy flow is higher in Technoecosystems.
5. Technoecosystems heavily depend on the flow of money for ecosystem services.
6. Energy requirements are higher for Technoecosystems. For example, an average Technoecosystems requires about 70 times the energy that is needed to sustain the same area of coral reefs in a day.
A modern city which requires large amounts of energy forms the major component of any technoecosystem. A huge area of natural or seminatural rural belt with low energy density is usually adjacent to technoecosystem.
On a broader basis, these can be classified as urban industrial techno ecosystems and rural technoecosytems. This classification is largely dependent on the location and energy resources.
a. Urban-industrial techno-ecosystems.
The salient feature of this anthropogenic ecosystem is the presence of a large city with many human dwellings, factories and roads and associated infrastructure. The biome has a number of other species in addition to humans. Most of the time, these are non native which are introduced and maintained by humans. The native species are almost a rarity and the existing species can hardly sustain outside this biome.
b. Rural technoecosystems
This consists of the transportation corridors, industries and small towns in the vicinity of urban technoecosystems. These include highways, power plants, industries such as mining etc. They support a few native species which survive the stress and have higher resistance to disturbances. It also houses the introduced species which can survive the odds of disturbances especially due to human activities.
These ecosystems are parasitic and competitive in nature. Current cities are less or almost non productive and generate only the wastes as output which again consumes energy for further processing.
For any ecosystem to survive, the competition should result in resource allocation and not exclusion or extinction of the other species in the ecosystem. Parasites also need to be developed along the host otherwise both will die. Likewise technoecosystems need to be codeveloped with natural ecosystems.
Ecological footprint is the impact and resources required by the city for a sustainable development. In other words, it is the productive area (farmlands, forests, etc) outside the city which is needed to support the city life and species in the technoecosystem. This depends on two aspects
a. Demands of the technoecosystem
b. The productivity of the surrounding environment
This footprint can be applied for individual variables of the ecosystem such as food, water etc. This will help in formulation of more efficient resource utilization strategies. It can be applied as per capita measurement also.
With the advancement of any technology, there is the dark side of pollution. What is needed is a counter technology to reduce the harmful effects of any such technological improvement. For example, alternative agriculture and clean coal technology reduce the detrimental effects to some extent.
Biodiversity approaches has been focused towards input or resource management rather than processing the outputs in the recent past. Such a technology has its roots from anthropogenic ecosystems such as technoecosystems where technological developments need to be balanced along with the biodiversity.
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