1 1 Ecology and Environmental or Ecosystem Health Joanna Burger introduction The public, scientists, managers, and public policy makers are interested in maintaining healthy ecosystems, both for ecosystem protection and for the benefits they provide society, including goods and services, medicinal products, and religious and cultural benefits. Ecosystems, whether natural, degraded, or developed, have always faced biological, physical, chemical, and radiological stressors, but many of these have increased in magnitude and frequency since the Industrial Revolution. Industrialization, including the development of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction during and after the Second World War, has led to massive habitat destruc- tion and extensive contamination of the land and water around factories. Although species assemblages and communities have adapted or adjusted to these stressors, the cumulative effect has ranged from minor to devastat- ing. In some cases, however, the chemical and physical stressors caused by industrial or military development have resulted in protection of eco- systems that were minimally affected, such as around many of the Depart- ments of Defense and Energy sites in the United States, where large tracts of undisturbed buffer lands were maintained.1 This chapter examines the features that are important to maintaining healthy ecosystems, ecosystem disruptions (natural and anthropogenic), recovery and resiliency, and the effect of ecosystem disruptions on human health. Though entire books can be written about ecology2 and each of
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