Overview of the Four Ecosystem Processes

There are four fundamental ecosystem building or foundation blocks, known as the Water Cycle, Mineral Cycle, Solar Energy Flow and Community Dynamics.  Each is totally linked to each of the other processes.

Imagine attempting to adjust the size of the face of a tetrahedron such as the oneto the left.  Quite clearly, it is not possible to adjust one face without effecting the structure and integrity of all three of the other faces.  It is an integral ‘whole’.  So it is with the four ecosystem processes.A declining water cycle leads to declining mineral cycle effectiveness.  Individually, plants begin to reduce their ability to effectively capturing sunlight, and eventually the entire plant, animal and micro-organism community is reduced in both mass and complexity.  

The converse also applies: if land managers like you are deliberately making decisions that strengthen any one of the ecosystem processes, in due course all four of the processes are positively affected.  There may be lags in the overall progression (either up or down) but sooner or later all four move together in a positive (or if the application of the tool continues to be inappropriate, negative) direction.

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