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The thesis is advanced that the word "ecosystem" is most useful if it is applied to systems in the steady state. A brief analysis of the nature of the steady state is presented, and it is shown that many natural systems are in steady state, provided that the time constant of the system is appropriately chosen. The principles of analysis of energy flow, biogeochemical cycle, and population turnover in steady state ecosystems are briefly discussed.
BioScience © 1967 American Institute of Biological Sciences