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Posted Fri Jun 25 2010: from Washington University in St. Louis, via PhysOrg:
Pond communities bear lasting imprint of random events in their past
A seven-year experiment shows that pond communities bear the imprint of random events in their past, such as the order in which species were introduced into the ponds. This finding locates one of the wellsprings of biodiversity but also suggests that it may not be possible to restore ecosystems whose history we cannot recreate.... He set out 45 Rubbermaid cattle tanks in an old field, added a bit of dirt to each and filled them with well water. The 300-gallon tanks are not as big as regular ponds, he says, but they're "decent sized. "I've even had herons come and try to hang out in them, although they're a bit small for that." He dosed the ponds with nutrients in the form of nitrogen- or phosphorus-containing chemicals. Each pond received either low, medium or high levels of nutrients throughout the experiment. And then he began inoculating the ponds with species. The species pool for inoculation consisted of zooplankton from each of 15 ponds, 30 insects and small invertebrates such as snails, 9 vascular aquatic plants and 12 kinds of filamentous green algae.... So each pond received species in a different order but in the end, every pond got exactly the same species. "Then we let nature take over," Chase says.... "The low productivity ponds were very predictable, very deterministic," he says. "The high productivity ponds were more stochastic. History mattered more."... Far from being carbon copies, ecosystems are historical artifacts, their final form a sensitive record of their past.
[Read more stories about: ecosystem interrelationships, species restoration]

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'Doc Jim says:
So we can't recreate ecosystems we've already changed. I'm sure we can do it better!

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