In thermodynamics, ecological thermodynamics or “ecology thermodynamics” is the application of thermodynamics principles and laws, particularly exergy, emergy, energy flow, and entropy, to the study of the states and evolutions of ecosystems.

The use of the concept of energy in the study of ecology came into use in the early 1950s through the works of Americans ecologist Howard Odum and his brother zoologist Eugene Odum. [1] In 1953, the Odum brothers, particularly Eugene, wrote the world’s first textbook in ecology, Fundamentals of Ecology, in which they introduced the first two laws of thermodynamics for application in ecology. [2] Through their writings the Odums introduced a number of non-rigorous thermodynamic conjectures, such as emergy, embodied energy, the maximum power principle, energese or "energy systems language", among others. [3]

The more general application of thermodynamics to the study of ecosystems began to emerge in the early 1970s. Pioneers in this developing field include American ecologist Danish chemical engineer Sven Jorgenson, American chemical engineer Robert Ulanowicz, American ecologists James Kay and Eric Schneider, and Italian nuclear scientist Corrado Giannantoni, among others.

1. Jorgensen, Sven E. and Kay, James. (2001). Thermodynamics and Ecological Modeling. CRC Press.
2. Odum, Eugene P. (1953). Fundamentals of Ecology, (pgs. 43-45). Saunders.
3. Mansson, B.A. and McGlade, J.M. (1993). “Ecology, Thermodynamics, and Odum’s Conjectures” (Abs), Oecologia, 93, pgs. 582-96.

Further reading
Odum, Howard, T. and Elisabeth, Odum, C. (1976). Energy Basis for Man and Nature. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
● Ulanowicz, Robert E. (1986). Growth and Development - Ecosystems Phenomenology. New York: toExcell Press.
● Peet, John. (1992). Energy and the Ecological Economics of Sustainability. Washington D.C.: Island Press.
● Giannantoni, Corrado. (2002). The Maximum Em-Power Principle as the Basis for Thermodynamics of Quality. Servizi Grafici Editoriali Publishers.
● Jorgensen, Sven E. and Svirezhev, Yuri M. (2004). Towards a Thermodynamic Theory for Ecological Systems. New York: Elsevier.
● Schneider, Eric D. and Sagan, Dorion. (2005). Into the Cool - Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
● Tollner, Ernest W. and Kazanci, Caner. (2007). “Defining an Ecological Thermodynamics using Discrete Simulation Approaches” (Abs), Ecological Modeling, Vol. 208, Issue 1, Oct., pgs. 68-79.
● Liao, Wenjie, Heijungs, Reinout, and Huppes, Gjalt. (2012). “Thermodynamic Analysis of Human-environmental Systems: A Review Focused on Industrial Ecology” (abs), Ecological Modelling, 228(Mar):76-88.

External links
About: Thermodynamics and Ecology – James Kay.

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