Ecosystem Engineering as a Concept: The Significance of Functional Classification of the True Engineers
Department of Zoology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
*Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Wesley University of Science and Technology, Ondo.
Accepted on August 29, 2011
In this paper, ecosystem engineering as a concept is viewed critically from the point of view of its breath and different interpretations which have generated a lot of controversy. The definition of ecosystem engineers, though recent, is not seen as an excuse for its retarded development as a concept into a theory due to its historical antecedents right from the mid- 19th century. The need to examine the various overlaps and differences between physical engineering ‘processes’ which could either be autogenic or allogenic on the one hand and ecosystem engineering ‘consequences’ on the other hand was stressed. Emphasis on the ‘end-result’ of the engineering process was identified as a factor which can facilitate the development of ecosystem engineering into a theoretical concept. If soil fertility is seen as the ‘end-result’ of ecosystem engineering in the soil, the application of the concept will be narrowed down to all activities that lead to maintaining soil fertility to the exclusion of activities that have hitherto been regarded as ecosystem engineering simply because they transform or affect the biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem. The functional classification of ecosystem engineers in various ecosystem compartments in a wide variety of biota is stressed as another important exercise that can further strengthen the ecosystem engineering as a concept.