ISSN 10674136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2011, Vol. 42, No. 6, pp. 485–492. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2011.
Original Russian Text © T.I. Moiseenko, 2011, published in Ekologiya, 2011, No. 6, pp. 441–448.
Pollution of the environment is becoming a factor
that rapidly changes living conditions on the planet.
Aquatic ecosystems, among other components of the
environment, are especially affected by human activi
ties. Transformation of drainage basins, transboundary
flows, direct discharge of industrial and municipal
wastewaters, and random runoff lead to changes in
biogeochemical cycles of elements in the catchment
area–water body system and the appearance of toxic
components in the aquatic environment, which even
tually alter living conditions for aquatic organisms.
Toxic pollution of waters is one of the most dangerous
phenomena of the present times. Understanding the
mechanisms of the structural and functional transfor
mation of aquatic ecosystems under anthropogenic
pollution, which is based on the unity and interaction
of all ecosystem components, is an important problem
in modern ecology.
The main feature of living organisms is the ability
to survive and reproduce within the limits evolution
arily established for particular species (populations)
and provided with the energy resources of their niches
and supported by the whole structure of the ecosystem
in which these organisms exist. The influence of a
destabilizing factor, such as toxic pollution, leads to
changes in the ecosystem, with their pattern depend
ing on a number of direct, indirect, and feedback con
nections. Apparently, these changes are controlled by
the ecological mechanisms maintaining ecosystem’s
integrity (Shvarts, 1980; Odum, 1986; Alimov, 2000),
on the one hand, and by the thermodynamic mecha
nisms of energy ordering and entropy minimization in
living systems, on the other hand (Prigogine and
Stengers, 2008; Galimov, 2009).
The purpose of this study is to formulate the con
cept of mechanism maintaining stability of aquatic
ecosystems and of their variation under conditions of
anthropogenic toxic pollution, and selforganization
(regeneration) after decrease in pollution level in
terms of the basic theoretical principles of ecology and
“Mechanism” is understood here as a system of
causeandeffect relationships in the chain of ecosys
tem transformations. This term is usually applied to
processes that take place mainly at the organismic
level and is rarely used at the levels of populations and
communities. Nevertheless, an insight into the inter
connections of processes in suparorganismal systems
is often more important for ecology than revealing
individual disturbances in organisms included in the
community (Filenko et al., 2005).
This study is based on the results of numerous
investigations on aquatic ecosystems altered under the
impact of toxic pollution (
, 1982; Shindler,
1987; Cairns, 1990; Pratt and Cairns, 1996; Chesser
and Sugg, 1996;
Filenko et al., 2005; etc.), as well as on data obtained
in the most recent period characterized by a decrease
in anthropogenic pressure on water bodies (Cairns,
2005; Moiseenko, 2009; Moiseenko et al., 2009).
Although the main examples are taken from studies of
aquatic ecosystems, they can help in understanding
disturbances in terrestrial ecosystems.
Stability of Aquatic Ecosystems and Their Variation
under Conditions of Toxic Pollution
T. I. Moiseenko
Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Kosygina 19, Moscow, 119991 Russia
Received September 9, 2010
—The development of concepts concerning the stability of aquatic ecosystem and their variation
under conditions of toxic pollution and after its reduction is considered. General trends in ecosystem trans
formation are explained in terms of theoretical ecology and thermodynamic mechanisms of energy ordering
in living systems. Basic symptoms of disorganization in ecosystems under extreme loads and of their regen
erative selforganization are discussed. It is shown that the development of a new modification of an aquatic
ecosystem after a decrease in toxic pollution complies with the pattern of ecosystem succession: from a nat
ural ecosystem, via the critical stage, to its more stable but structurally different modification.
: aquatic ecosystems, toxic pollution, stability, reorganization mechanisms, regeneration.