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Odumwas an American ecologist. He is known for his pioneering work on ecosystem ecologyand for his provocative proposals for additional laws of thermodynamics, informed by his work on general systems theory.

Odum was the third child of Howard W. He was the younger brother of Eugene Odum. Their father “encouraged his sons to go into science and to develop new techniques to contribute to social progress. Howard learned his early scientific lessons about birds from his brother, about fish and the philosophy of biology while working after school for the marine zoologist Robert Coker, and about electrical circuits from The Boy Electrician by Alfred Powell Morgan.

Howard Thomas studied biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillwhere he published his first paper while still an undergraduate.

After the war, he returned to the University of North Carolina and completed his B. InOdum married Virginia Wood; they had two children together. After her death, he married Elizabeth C. Odum in ; she had four children from her previous marriage. Odum’s advice on how to manage a blended family was to be sure to keep talking; Elizabeth’s was to hold back on discipline and new rules.

InHoward earned his Ph. His dissertation was titled The Biogeochemistry of Strontium: With Discussion on the Ecological Integration of Elements. This step took him from his early interest in ornithology and brought him into the emerging field of systems ecology.

He made a meteorological “analysis of the global circulation of strontium, [and] anticipated in the late s the view of the earth as one great ecosystem. While at Yale, Howard began his lifelong collaborations with his brother Eugene. Inthey published the first English-language textbook on systems ecology, Fundamentals of Ecology. Howard wrote the chapter on energeticswhich introduced his energy circuit language.

They continued to collaborate in research as well as writing for the rest of their lives. For Howard, his energy systems language which he called “energese” was itself a collaborative tool.

During this time, he became aware of the interplay of ecological-energetic and economic forces. That year he moved to the University of Florida, where he taught at the Environmental Engineering Sciences Department, founded and directed the Center for Environmental Policy, and founded the University’s Center for Wetlands in It was the first center of its kind in the world that is still in operation today.

Odum continued this work for 26 years until his retirement in In the ss Odum was also chairman of the International Biological Program ‘s Tropical Biome planning committee. He was supported by large contracts with the United States Atomic Energy Commissionresulting in participation by nearly scientists, who conducted radiation studies of a tropical rainforest [5] His featured project at University of Florida in the s was on recycling treated sewage into cypress swamps.

This was one of the first projects to explore the now widespread approach of using wetlands as water quality improvement ecosystems. This is one of his most important contributions to the beginnings of the field of ecological engineering. Charles A S Hall has described Odum one of the most innovative and important thinkers of our time. The only higher education institute to award honorary degrees to both Odum brothers was The Ohio State University, which honored H.


Odum’s contributions to this field have been recognised by the Mars Society.

They named their experimental station the “H. Odum greenhouse”, at the suggestion of his former student Patrick Kangas. Kangas and his student, David Blersch, made significant contributions ecolkgia the design of the waste water recycling system on the station. Work done at these institutions continues to evolve and propagate the Odum’s concept of emergy.

Nixon [University of Rhode Island] are among a cadre of former students who have been recognized internationally for their contributions to ecological engineering, ecological economics, ecosystem science, wetland ecology, estuarine ecology, ecological modeling, and related fields. Odum left a large legacy in many fields associated with ecology, systems, and energetics.

According to Hallp. Odum also wrote on radiation ecology, systems ecologyunified science, and the microcosm.

Howard T. Odum

He was one of the first to discuss the use of ecosystems for life-support function ecoligia space travel. In his Ph. Odum gave libri novel definition of ecology as the study of large entities ecosystems at the “natural level of integration”. However another of his aims was to make predictive generalizations about ecosystems, such as the whole world for example. For Odum, as a large entity, the world constituted a revolving cycle with high stability.

Howard T. Odum – Wikipedia

It was the presence of stability which, Odum believed, enabled him to talk about the teleology of such systems. Moreover, at the time of writing his thesis, Odum felt that the principle of natural selection was more than empiricalbecause it had a teleological, that is a “stability over time” component.

And as an ecologist ecologgia in the behavior and function of large entities over time, Odum therefore sought to give a more general statement of natural selection so that it was equally applicable to large entities as it was to small entities traditionally studied in biology.

Hence Odum also had the aim of extending the scope and generality of natural selection, to include large entities such as the world. This extension relied on the definition librk an entity as a combination of properties that have some stability with time.

In writing a history of the ecosystem dde, Golley noted that Odum tended to think in the form of analogies, and gave the example, “if the world is a heat oddum, then Odum used an analog of electrical energy networks to model the energy flow pathways of ecosystems.

Electron flow in the electrical network represented the flow of material e. In the s Odum introduced his electrical circuit diagrams of ecosystems to the Ecological Society of America.

He claimed that energy was driven through ecological systems by an “ecoforce” analogous to the role of voltage in electrical circuits.

Howard T. Odum – Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

Odum developed an analogue of Ohm’s Law which aimed to be a representation of energy flows through ecosystems. Kangas states that Odum then also concluded that as thermodynamic systems, ecosystems should also obey the force-flux law.

In this simulation, Odum attempted to derive an ecological analog for ecologix voltage. Voltage, or driving force, is related to something we have measured for years, the biomassin pounds per acre. The analogous concept required is the biomass activity, that is, the thermodynamic thrust, which may be linear. Exactly what this is in nature is still uncertain, as it is a new concept. Such a consideration led Odum to ask two important odumm questions: For example, what is a diode in nature?

One needs a diode to allow biomass to accumulate after the voltage of the sun has gone down. Otherwise the circuit reverses. Higher organisms like fish are diodes. Silver Springs is a common type of spring-fed stream in Floridawith a constant temperature and chemical composition.

Odum started with an overall model and in his early work used a diagramming methodology very similar to the Sankey diagrams used in chemical process engineering. In this model energy and matter flows through an ecosystem: Squares represent biotic pools and ovals are fluxes or energy or nutrients from the system. Started from that overall model Odum “mapped in detail all the flow routes to and from the stream.


He measured the energy input of sun and rain, and of all organic matter – even those of the bread the tourists threw to the ducks and fish – libr then measured the energy that gradually left the spring. In this way he was able to establish the stream’s energy budget”. Around Odum directed studies into radioecology [26] which included the effects of radiation on the tropical rainforest at El Verde, Puerto Rico Odum and Pidgeonand the coral reefs and ocean ecology at Eniwetok atoll.

Apparently the atoll was sufficiently radioactive that upon their arrival the Odums were able to produce an autoradiographic image of a coral head by placing it ce photographic paper. They were exploring the implications of the laws of thermodynamics when used in these new settings. From this view, biogeochemical cycles are driven by radiant energy. He classified water bodies based on their P-R ratios, this separated autotrophic from heterotrophic ecosystems: Odum was measuring the community as a system, not adding up the metabolism of the components as Lindeman and llibro others had done”.

Hutchinson who expressed the view that if a community were an organism then it must have a form of metabolism. Odum attempted to go beyond the reporting of mere ratios, a move which resulted in the first serious disagreement in systems energetics.

In a controversial move, Odum, together with Richard Pinkerton at the time physicist at the University of Floridawas motivated by Alfred J. Lotka ‘s articles on the energetics of evolution, and subsequently proposed the theory that natural systems tend to operate at an efficiency that produces the maximum power output, not the maximum efficiency.

Further to this Odum also mooted two more additional thermodynamic laws see Energeticsbut there is far from consensus in the scientific community about these proposals, and many scientists have never heard of H. Odum or his views. By the llbro of the s Odum’s electronic circuit ecological oxum models were replaced by a more general set of energy symbols.

When combined to form systems diagrams, these symbols were considered by Odum and others to be the language of the macroscope which could portray generalized patterns of energy flow: Kitching claimed that the language was a direct result of working with analogue computers, and reflected an electrical engineer’s approach to the problem of system representation: If one is building a model of energy flow then certainly the Odum system should be given serious consideration In taking an energy-based view of hierarchical organization Odum also developed further the systems ecology understanding of energy quality.

In the s in the latter part of his career H. Odum together with David M.

Scienceman developed the ideas of emergyas a specific use of the term Embodied energy. Some consider the concept of “emergy”, sometimes briefly defined as “energy memory”, as one of Odum’s more significant contributions.

However the concept is neither free from controversy nor without its critics. Odum looked at osum systems as having oudm formed by the use of various forms of energy in the past: The unit of emergy past available energy use is the emjoule, as distinguished from joules used for available energy remaining now.

However this principle has only been demonstrated in a few experiments [38] and is not widely recognized in the scientific community.