5. Importance of natural mechanisms (including biological and hydrobiological factors) for stabilizing climate system and regulating the parameters of the environment. Katrina-induced calamity demonstrated importance of natural mechanisms for stabilizing climate system and regulating the parameters of the environment which are relevant to weather and climate. Several studies were published on the role of biota (including aquatic biota) as an important factor for stability of the environment (Gorshkov 1997; Ostroumov 2003, 2005). The list of biota-dependent phenomena and processes that are vital to the formation and regulation of environmental parameters was given and substantiated in (Ostroumov 2005). It includes, inter alia (the items below overlap each other):
generation of nuclei for water condensation and cloud formation;
defining the green gases flows and steady-state concentration in the atmosphere;
defining the heat and energy balance on the surface of land and water, and in the lower part of the atmosphere;
defining the characteristics of the interface water/air;
defining the characteristics of the interface land/air.
We would like to underline – among a variety of ecological mechanisms and phenomena - the role of the system of functions in the ecosystems that lead to water purification. That system was named 'biotic mechanism for water purification' (Ostroumov 2004). The mechanism is a coupling device that connect together many biotic (physiological and other) processes and geochemical flows through water column. This mechanism form many parameters of aquatic ecosystem: transparency, turbidity, quantity and quality of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and suspended organic matter (SOM), optical properties of water, parameters of water/air interface (surface microlayer), heat absorbtion,CO2 emission or sinking, CH4 generation rate and many others. All or many of those parameters and processes are important in forming or regulating the climate system and weather phenomena.
The role of biotic factors (e.g. associated with plankton productivity and biomass, plankton-dependent optical parameters, energy sorption and storage by water, etc.) is especially pronounced in polar or subpolar regions, which in turn are so important in weather formation. The biota in polar waters is subject to seasonal changes. The dynamic, changeable pattern of biotic factors is especially vulnerable to man-made influence, which in turn may have long-term consequences for the environmental parameters that depends on biota.
1. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the tragedy of dramatic consequences of increasing water level. Not only Katrina but also the global warming and some other types of environmental change may induce increasing water level. That clearly add new emphasis on the proof of the precious role of the biotic factors and mechanisms (mentioned above) that regulate environmental parameters.
2. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated also another tragedy – that of power of militant ignorance. Not only ignorance is the word. Refusal to hear the voice of knowledge. Refusal to see knowledge. Refusal to accumulate knowledge. Nobel Winner Josef Brodsky said: it is hard to say, what is worse: to burn books or not to read books. There were predictions of the disasters in New Orleans; there are scientific books and papers which say about the hazards of damaging the regulatory functions of biota. Why those who are in charge of the well-being of the society did not read them?
3. The author makes the following predictions: if the current attitude keeps on – the attitude of the neglect and underestimate of the value of research into functioning ecological systems (including aquatic ecosystems, both marine and freshwater), - we predict that no proper understanding of climate change and extreme weather events will be reached. On practical terms, it means that in the case of insufficient funding of ecology and aquatic ecology, no ability will be developed to forecast and counteract the disasters similar to or equal to those caused by Katrina. In short, it means that saving millions on ecology and aquatic ecology will translate into new losses of billions, plus even more, new losses of human lives.
Literature (several sites at Internet were also used)
Gorshkov V.G. Slowing down of global changes of carbon cycles by marine biota. DAN.1997. 353: 390-393.
Ostroumov S.A. The functions of the living matter in the biosphere // Vestnik RAN (Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences). 2003. V. 73. No. 3. P. 232-238.
Ostroumov S.A. Biotic mechanism of self-purification of freshwater and marine water. Мoscow: МAX Press. 2004. 96 p.
Ostroumov S.A. Searching approaches to solving the problem of global change: elements of the theory of the biotic-ecosystem mechanisms of the regulation and stabilization of parameters of the biosphere, geochemical and geological environment // Vestnik MGU (Bulletin of Moscow Univ.). Ser. Biol. 2005. No. 1. P. 24-33.[The list of biota-dependent phenomena and processes that are vital to the formation and regulation of environmental parameters].
NEW SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION IN ECOLOGY AND HYDROBIOLOGY: HI-ECOLOGICAL TECHNOLOGIES p.22-24.
Dept of Hydrobiology, Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University, Moscow 119992
Knowledge and increase of enduring joy
From the great Nature…
The scientific achievements in several high-profile areas of modern science made less visible some important advances that were recently made in ecology and environmental science. They are:
1. Re-visiting some basic concepts. Several fundamental notions of ecology are undergoing a significant change. E.g., among the basic concepts of ecology is the concept of ecological optimum associated with many ecological factors. According to that concept, each or almost each of ecological factors there is some optimum (say, optimal temperature etc.), at which organisms of the given species feel most comfortable and demonstrate maximum productivity. The research done by Professor A. S. Konstantinov (his presentation at this session, Aquatic Ecosystems, Organisms, Innovations, Moscow, 2005) (12) demonstrated that this concept is no longer correct. He proposed and substanciated a new concept of ecological optimum that is different from the currently accepted.
2. Information network in the biosphere. We see now that the biological communities are not only the trophic webs but also networks of the information flows. The information channel are based on several types of communication: physical (optical, acoustical, possibly electromagnetic), and chemical (chemical signals). The details of the chemical communication were analyzed in our publications (9-11).
3. Self-maintenance mechanisms. The relative stability of ecological systems and the biosphere as whole is a surprising fact. The stability of the thermal conditions and climate, the stability of the biotic communities, the stability of the chemical composition of water are important things that cannot be taken for granted. There are some complex ecological mechanisms behind those facts of stability. One group of those mechanisms is the group of the ecological mechanisms for hydrosphere stability including the mechanisms for water self-purification in freshwater bodies and streams, as well as in marine systems. It was described in (8).
Practical applications. There are several interrelated ways of practical usage of new ecological knowledge.
Example 1: phytoremediation. More detail, in (3).
Example 2: preventing global change. It was shown that the global change is prevented or mitigated by a number of ecological or biogeochemical processes (5,7). Those processes and the biota which is the driving force for the processes should be better studied and protected.
Example 3: preventing new potential forms of terrorism (bioterrorism, ecoterrorism). Usually the term 'bioterrorism' is interpreted as something to do with harmful microorganisms and other infectious agents, including genetically constructed. They are dangerous, but the prophylaxis of bioterrorism must cover a broader range of potential threats. In our ecological analysis, we found the threats that we designated as 'the ecological bomb of the first type' and 'the ecological bomb of the second type' (1, 4, 6). Those threats are to be better studied and we are looking for sponsorship in studying them and the ways to counter the threats. We already discovered important biotic mechanisms that serve as a beneficial remedy to prevent the threat of the ecological bomb of the second type (1, 4, 6).
Concluding remarks. The common denominator of many of the ecological mechanisms mentioned above is that they meet the criteria that we formulated in some of our recent publications as the criteria for a hi-tech device in the field of technology. Hence, we can consider some ecological mechanisms (involved in information transfer, in self-purification etc) as ecological analogy of high technology. We suggest to use the term 'hi-ecological technologies' that we can found in natural ecosystems; we may create them in artificial ecosystems. The systems for phytoremediation is a good example.
The current scientific revolution in ecology will have enormous practical importance. For as it has been remembered since 1831, "Speculations apparently the most unprofitable have almost invariably been those from which the greatest practical applications have emanated" (John Frederick William Herschel, famous astronomer, 1792-1871) (italicized by S.A.O.).
1.Ostroumov S.A. Integrity-oriented approach to ecological biomachinery for self-purification and bioremediation in aquatic ecosystems: stopping an ecological time bomb. Limnology and Oceanography: Navigating into the Next Century. February 1-5, 1999, Santa Fe, New Mexico. ASLO, Waco, TX. 1999. P. 134.
2. Idem. Role of aquatic organisms in preventing global change // Ecological Studies, Hazards and Solutions. 2000. Vol. 3. M.: MAX Press. P.24.
3. Idem. 2001. Biological Effects of Surfactants on Organisms. MAX Press, Moscow. 334 p.
4. Idem. Two types of ecological bomb // Ecol. Stud., Problems, Solutions, 2003, vol. 6. P.36.
5. Idem. On the role of the biota (ecological and hydrobiological factors) in the regulation and stabilization of biospheric, geochemical, and geophysical processes and parameters. Vestnik of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. 2003, Vol.3, No. 2, P.59-62.
6. Idem. Facts and concepts of ecology 3. Ecological bomb of the second type. // Ecological Studies, Hazards, Solutions. 2004. Vol. 7. P. 115-119.
7. Idem. Searching approaches to solving the problem of global change: elements of the theory of the biotic-ecosystem mechanims of the regulation and stabilization of parameters of the biosphere, geochemical and geological environment // Vestnik MGU (Bulletin of Moscow Univ.). Ser. Biol. 2005. No. 1. P.24-33.
8. Idem. Pollution, self-purification and restoration of aquatic ecosystems. Мoscow: МAX Press. 2005. 100 p.
9. Idem. Introduction to Bio-Chemical Ecology.1986.M.:Moscow University Press.176 p.
10. Telitchenko M.M., Ostroumov S.A. Introduction to Problems of Bio-chemical Ecology: Biotechnology, Agriculture, Environment. 1990. Nauka Press, Moscow. 288 p.
11. Ostroumov S.A. Concepts of biochemical ecology: ecological chemomediators, ecological chemoregulators, ecological chemoeffectors // Ecological Studies, Hazards, Solutions. 2003. Vol. 6. P.105-107.
12. Konstantinov A. S. Presentation at this session, Aquatic Ecosystems, Organisms, Innovations, Moscow, 2005.
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND PRIORITIES FOR RESTORING WATER STREAMS: FROM ECOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS TO PRACTICAL WORK p.24-25.