Energy Systems Language

The Energy Systems Language, also referred to as Energese, Energy Circuit Language, or Generic Systems Symbols, was developed by the ecologist Howard T. Odum and colleagues in the 1950s during studies of the tropical forests funded by the United States Atomic Energy Commission. They are used to compose energy flow diagrams in the field of systems ecology.

Energese
The Energy Systems Language of Systems Ecology

Design intent

The design intent of the energy systems language was to facilitate the generic depiction of energy flows through any scale system while encompassing the laws of physics, and in particular, the laws of thermodynamics (see energy transformation for an example).

In particular H.T. Odum aimed to produce a language which could facilitate the intellectual analysis, engineering synthesis and management of global systems such as the geobiosphere, and its many subsystems. Within this aim, H.T. Odum had a strong concern that many abstract mathematical models of such systems were not thermodynamically valid. Hence he used analog computers to make system models due to their intrinsic value; that is, the electronic circuits are of value for modelling natural systems which are assumed to obey the laws of energy flow, because, in themselves the circuits, like natural systems, also obey the known laws of energy flow, where the energy form is electrical. However Odum was interested not only in the electronic circuits themselves, but also in how they might be used as formal analogies for modeling other systems which also had energy flowing through them. As a result, Odum did not restrict his inquiry to the analysis and synthesis of any one system in isolation. The discipline that is most often associated with this kind of approach, together with the use of the energy systems language is known as systems ecology.

General characteristics

PassiveAnalog
Passive electrical equivalent of Energy Systems Language storage icon

When applying the electronic circuits (and schematics) to modeling ecological and economic systems, Odum believed that generic categories, or characteristic modules, could be derived. Moreover he felt that a general symbolic system, fully defined in electronic terms (including the mathematics thereof) would be useful for depicting real system characteristics, such as the general categories of production, storage, flow, transformation, and consumption. Central principles of electronics also therefore became central features of the energy systems language – Odum's generic symbolism.

Depicted to the left is what the generic symbol for storage, which Odum named the Bertalanffy module, in honor of the general systems theorist Ludwig von Bertalanffy.

For Odum, in order to achieve a holistic understanding of how many apparently different systems actually affect each other, it was important to have a generic language with a massively scalable modeling capacity – to model global-to-local, ecological, physical and economic systems. The intention was, and for those who still apply it, is, to make biological, physical, ecological, economic and other system models thermodynamically, and so also energetically, valid and verifiable. As a consequence the designers of the language also aimed to include the energy metabolism of any system within the scope of inquiry.

Pictographic icons

In order to aid learning, in Modeling for all Scales Odum and Odum (2000) suggested systems might first be introduced with pictographic icons, and then later defined in the generic symbolism. Pictograms have therefore been used in software programs like ExtendSim to depict the basic categories of the Energy Systems Language. Some have argued that such an approach shares similar motivations to Otto Neurath's isotype project, Leibniz's (Characteristica Universalis) Enlightenment Project and Buckminster Fuller's works.

See also

References

  • M.T.Brown (2004) 'A picture is worth a thousand words: energy systems language and simulation', Ecological Modelling, 178: 83–100.
  • H.T. Odum, Pigeon, R.F. (Eds.) (1970), A Tropical Rainforest, Division of Technical Information, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (TID2470)
  • H.T.Odum (1971) Environment, Society and Power, Wiley Interscience.
  • H.T.Odum (1994) Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology, Colorado University Press, Colorado.
  • P.J.Taylor and A.S.Blum (1991) "Ecosystems as Circuits: Diagrams and the Limits of Physical Analogies", Biology and Philosophy, 6: 275–294.
Cascade effect (ecology)

An ecological cascade effect is a series of secondary extinctions that is triggered by the primary extinction of a key species in an ecosystem. Secondary extinctions are likely to occur when the threatened species are: dependent on a few specific food sources, mutualistic (dependent on the key species in some way), or forced to coexist with an invasive species that is introduced to the ecosystem. Species introductions to a foreign ecosystem can often devastate entire communities, and even entire ecosystems. These exotic species monopolize the ecosystem's resources, and since they have no natural predators to decrease their growth, they are able to increase indefinitely. Olsen et al. showed that exotic species have caused lake and estuary ecosystems to go through cascade effects due to loss of algae, crayfish, mollusks, fish, amphibians, and birds. However, the principal cause of cascade effects is the loss of top predators as the key species. As a result of this loss, a dramatic increase (ecological release) of prey species occurs. The prey is then able to overexploit its own food resources, until the population numbers decrease in abundance, which can lead to extinction. When the prey's food resources disappear, they starve and may go extinct as well. If the prey species is herbivorous, then their initial release and exploitation of the plants may result in a loss of plant biodiversity in the area. If other organisms in the ecosystem also depend upon these plants as food resources, then these species may go extinct as well. An example of the cascade effect caused by the loss of a top predator is apparent in tropical forests. When hunters cause local extinctions of top predators, the predators' prey's population numbers increase, causing an overexploitation of a food resource and a cascade effect of species loss. Recent studies have been performed on approaches to mitigate extinction cascades in food-web networks.

Characteristica universalis

The Latin term characteristica universalis, commonly interpreted as universal characteristic, or universal character in English, is a universal and formal language imagined by Gottfried Leibniz able to express mathematical, scientific, and metaphysical concepts. Leibniz thus hoped to create a language usable within the framework of a universal logical calculation or calculus ratiocinator.

The characteristica universalis is a recurring concept in the writings of Leibniz. When writing in French, he sometimes employed the phrase spécieuse générale to the same effect. The concept is sometimes paired with his notion of a calculus ratiocinator and with his plans for an encyclopaedia as a compendium of all human knowledge.

Ecological engineering

Ecological engineering uses ecology and engineering to predict, design, construct or restore, and manage ecosystems that integrate "human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both".

Energy flow (ecology)

In ecology, energy flow, also called the calorific flow, refers to the flow of energy through a food chain, and is the focus of study in ecological energetics. In an ecosystem, ecologists seek to quantify the relative importance of different component species and feeding relationships.

A general energy flow scenario follows:

Solar energy is fixed by the photoautotrophs, called primary producers, like green plants. Primary consumers absorb most of the stored energy in the plant through digestion, and transform it into the form of energy they need, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), through respiration. A part of the energy received by primary consumers, herbivores, is converted to body heat (an effect of respiration), which is radiated away and lost from the system. The loss of energy through body heat is far greater in warm-blooded animals, which must eat much more frequently than those that are cold-blooded. Energy loss also occurs in the expulsion of undigested food (egesta) by excretion or regurgitation.

Secondary consumers, carnivores, then consume the primary consumers, although omnivores also consume primary producers. Energy that had been used by the primary consumers for growth and storage is thus absorbed into the secondary consumers through the process of digestion. As with primary consumers, secondary consumers convert this energy into a more suitable form (ATP) during respiration. Again, some energy is lost from the system, since energy which the primary consumers had used for respiration and regulation of body temperature cannot be utilized by the secondary consumers.

Tertiary consumers, which may or may not be apex predators, then consume the secondary consumers, with some energy passed on and some lost, as with the lower levels of the food chain.

A final link in the food chain are decomposers which break down the organic matter of the tertiary consumers (or whichever consumer is at the top of the chain) and release nutrients into the soil. They also break down plants, herbivores and carnivores that were not eaten by organisms higher on the food chain, as well as the undigested food that is excreted by herbivores and carnivores. Saprotrophic bacteria and fungi are decomposers, and play a pivotal role in the nitrogen and carbon cycles.The energy is passed on from trophic level to trophic level and each time about 90% of the energy is lost, with some being lost as heat into the environment (an effect of respiration) and some being lost as incompletely digested food (egesta). Therefore, primary consumers get about 10% of the energy produced by autotrophs, while secondary consumers get 1% and tertiary consumers get 0.1%. This means the top consumer of a food chain receives the least energy, as a lot of the food chain's energy has been lost between trophic levels. This loss of energy at each level limits typical food chains to only four to six links.

Energy system (disambiguation)

An energy system is a system primarily designed to supply energy-services to end-users.

Energy system may also refer to:

Electric power system, for the supply, transfer, and use of electric power

Thermodynamic system, a physics concept for analysis of thermal energy exchange

Bioenergetic systems, metabolic processes for converting energy in living organisms

Energy transformation

Energy transformation, also known as energy conversion, is the process of changing energy from one form to another. In physics, energy is a quantity that provides the capacity to perform work (e.g. lifting an object) or provides heat. In addition to being convertible, according to the law of conservation of energy, energy is transferable to a different location or object, but it cannot be created or destroyed.

Energy in many of its forms may be used in natural processes, or to provide some service to society such as heating, refrigeration, lighting or performing mechanical work to operate machines. For example, in order to heat a home, the furnace burns fuel, whose chemical potential energy is converted into thermal energy, which is then transferred to the home's air to raise its temperature.

Environmental humanities

The environmental humanities (also ecological humanities) is an interdisciplinary area of research, drawing on the many environmental sub-disciplines that have emerged in the humanities over the past several decades (in particular environmental literature, environmental philosophy, environmental history and environmental anthropology). The environmental humanities aim to help bridge traditional divides between the sciences and the humanities, as well as between Western, Eastern and Indigenous ways of relating to the natural world and the place of humans within it.The ecological humanities are characterised by a connectivity ontology and a commitment to two fundamental axioms relating to the need to submit to ecological laws and to see humanity as part of a larger living system.

Howard T. Odum

Howard Thomas Odum (September 1, 1924 – September 11, 2002), usually cited as H. T. Odum, was an American ecologist. He is known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecology, and for his provocative proposals for additional laws of thermodynamics, informed by his work on general systems theory.

List of symbols

This is a list of graphical signs, icons, and symbols.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy (19 September 1901 – 12 June 1972) was an Austrian biologist known as one of the founders of general systems theory (GST), the "conceptual part" of which was first introduced by Alexander Bogdanov. This is an interdisciplinary practice that describes systems with interacting components, applicable to biology, cybernetics and other fields. Bertalanffy proposed that the classical laws of thermodynamics might be applied to closed systems, but not necessarily to "open systems" such as living things. His mathematical model of an organism's growth over time, published in 1934, is still in use today.Bertalanffy grew up in Austria and subsequently worked in Vienna, London, Canada, and the United States.

Mesopredator release hypothesis

The mesopredator release hypothesis is an ecological theory used to describe the interrelated population dynamics between apex predators and mesopredators within an ecosystem, such that a collapsing population of the former results in dramatically-increased populations of the latter. This hypothesis describes the phenomenon of trophic cascade in specific terrestrial communities.

A mesopredator is a medium-sized, middle trophic level predator, which both preys and is preyed upon. Examples are raccoons, skunks, snakes, cownose rays, and small sharks.

Modeling language

A modeling language is any artificial language that can be used to express information or knowledge or systems in a structure that is defined by a consistent set of rules. The rules are used for interpretation of the meaning of components in the structure.

Notation

In linguistics and semiotics, a notation is a system of graphics or symbols, characters and abbreviated expressions, used (for example) in artistic and scientific disciplines to represent technical facts and quantities by convention. Therefore, a notation is a collection of related symbols that are each given an arbitrary meaning, created to facilitate structured communication within a domain knowledge or field of study.

Standard notations refer to general agreements in the way things are written or denoted. The term is generally used in technical and scientific areas of study like mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, but can also be seen in areas like business, economics and music.

Productivity (ecology)

In ecology, productivity refers to the rate of generation of biomass in an ecosystem. It is usually expressed in units of mass per unit surface (or volume) per unit time, for instance grams per square metre per day (g m−2 d−1). The mass unit may relate to dry matter or to the mass of carbon generated. Productivity of autotrophs such as plants is called primary productivity, while that of heterotrophs such as animals is called secondary productivity.

Schematic

A schematic, or schematic diagram, is a representation of the elements of a system using abstract, graphic symbols rather than realistic pictures. A schematic usually omits all details that are not relevant to the key information the schematic is intended to convey, and may include oversimplified elements in order to make this essential meaning easier to grasp. For example, a subway map intended for passengers may represent a subway station with a dot. The dot is not intended to resemble the actual station at all; instead, it aims to give the viewer information without unnecessary visual clutter. A schematic diagram of a chemical process uses symbols in place of detailed representations of the vessels, piping, valves, pumps, and other equipment that compose the system; in so doing, it emphasizes the functions of these individual elements--and the interconnections among them--and suppresses their particular physical details. In an electronic circuit diagram, the layout of the symbols may not look anything like the circuit as it appears in the physical world: instead of representing the way the circuit looks, the schematic aims to capture, on a more general level, the way it works.

Sustainable gardening

Sustainable gardening includes the more specific sustainable landscapes, sustainable landscape design, sustainable landscaping, sustainable landscape architecture, resulting in sustainable sites. It comprises a disparate group of horticultural interests that can share the aims and objectives associated with the international post-1980s sustainable development and sustainability programs developed to address the fact that humans are now using natural biophysical resources faster than they can be replenished by nature.Included within this compass are those home gardeners, and members of the landscape and nursery industries, and municipal authorities, that integrate environmental, social, and economic factors to create a more sustainable future.

Organic gardening and the use of native plants are integral to sustainable gardening.

Systems Modeling Language

The Systems Modeling Language (SysML) is a general-purpose modeling language for systems engineering applications. It supports the specification, analysis, design, verification and validation of a broad range of systems and systems-of-systems.

SysML was originally developed by an open source specification project, and includes an open source license for distribution and use. SysML is defined as an extension of a subset of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) using UML's profile mechanism. The language's extensions were designed to support systems engineering activities.

Systems ecology

Systems ecology is an interdisciplinary field of ecology, a subset of Earth system science, that takes a holistic approach to the study of ecological systems, especially ecosystems. Systems ecology can be seen as an application of general systems theory to ecology. Central to the systems ecology approach is the idea that an ecosystem is a complex system exhibiting emergent properties. Systems ecology focuses on interactions and transactions within and between biological and ecological systems, and is especially concerned with the way the functioning of ecosystems can be influenced by human interventions. It uses and extends concepts from thermodynamics and develops other macroscopic descriptions of complex systems.

Systems theory

Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems. A system is a cohesive conglomeration of interrelated and interdependent parts that is either natural or man-made. Every system is delineated by its spatial and temporal boundaries, surrounded and influenced by its environment, described by its structure and purpose or nature and expressed in its functioning. In terms of its effects, a system can be more than the sum of its parts if it expresses synergy or emergent behavior. Changing one part of the system usually affects other parts and the whole system, with predictable patterns of behavior. For systems that are self-learning and self-adapting, the positive growth and adaptation depend upon how well the system is adjusted with its environment. Some systems function mainly to support other systems by aiding in the maintenance of the other system to prevent failure. The goal of systems theory is systematically discovering a system's dynamics, constraints, conditions and elucidating principles (purpose, measure, methods, tools, etc.) that can be discerned and applied to systems at every level of nesting, and in every field for achieving optimized equifinality.General systems theory is about broadly applicable concepts and principles, as opposed to concepts and principles applicable to one domain of knowledge. It distinguishes dynamic or active systems from static or passive systems. Active systems are activity structures or components that interact in behaviours and processes. Passive systems are structures and components that are being processed. E.g. a program is passive when it is a disc file and active when it runs in memory. The field is related to systems thinking, machine logic and systems engineering.

General
Producers
Consumers
Decomposers
Microorganisms
Food webs
Example webs
Processes
Defense,
counter
Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components
Population
ecology
Species
Species
interaction
Spatial
ecology
Niche
Other
networks
Other

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.