Thermodynamics is used increasingly in ecology to understand the system properties of ecosystems because it is a basic science that describes energy transformation from a holistic view. In the last decade, many contributions to ecosystem theory based on thermodynamics have been published, therefore an important step toward integrating these theories and encouraging a more wide spread use of them is to present them in one volume.
An ecosystem consists of interdependent living organisms that are also interdependent with their environment, all of which are involved in a constant transfer of energy and mass within a general state of equilibrium or dis-equilibrium. Thermodynamics can quantify exactly how "organized" or "disorganized" a system is - an extremely useful to know when trying to understand how a dynamic ecosystem is behaving.
A part of the Environmental and Ecological (Math) Modeling series, Thermodynamics and Ecology is a book-length study - the first of its kind - of the current thinking on how an ecosystem can be explained and predicted in terms of its thermodynamical behavior. After the introductory chapters on the fundamentals of thermodynamics, the book explains how thermodynamic theory can be specifically applied to the "measurement" of an ecosystem, including the assessment of its state of entropy and enthalpy. Additionally, it will show economists how to put these theories to use when trying to quantify the movement of goods and services through another type of complex living system - a human society.
Introduction. Exergy in Ecology. The Extended Law of Thermodynamics. Energy in Ecology. Entropy and Exergy Principles in Living Systems. Application of Thermodynamic Concepts to Real Ecosystems. Thermodynamics and Ecology, Far from Thermodynamics Equilibrium. Thermodynamics and Theory of Stability. Exergy and Emergence of Multi-Dimensional System Orientation. Emergy and Ecology. Imperfect Symmetry: Action Principles in Ecology and Evolution. Ecology and the Third Law of Thermodynamics. Ecology and a Tentative Fourth Law of Thermodynamics. Towards a Thermodynamic Theory of Ecosystems. Index. Appendices.