1067-4136/05/3603- © 2005 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2005, pp. 143–149. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 3, 2005, pp. 163–170.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Kryazhimskii, Bolshakov.
Ecological systems belonging to different organiza-
tional levels constitute the subject of modern general
ecology. These systems are dynamic and open (i.e.,
they exchange substances, energy, and information
with their environment); all of them include living sub-
systems that interact with one another and with inani-
mate, i.e., inorganic subsystems (the abiotic environ-
ment). Living components play the leading active role
in ecological systems, performing the work that keeps
the entire system in a state far removed from “thermal
chaos.” This is why modern ecology distinguishes the
structural hierarchical levels of ecological systems
according to the organizational levels of their biologi-
cal subsystems, beginning from the individual level
This systemic hierarchy underlies the classiﬁcation
of the main branches of modern ecology (ﬁgure): eco-
logical physiology (factorial ecology, or outecology),
population ecology (demecology), ecology of commu-
nities (biocenology, or synecology), which is a subdivi-
sion of biogeocenology, and, ﬁnally, global ecology
(Bolshakov and Kryazhimskii, 2001).
In addition to this functional (or ecological) subdi-
vision of living systems, there is an older, evolutionary
taxonomic principle of the classiﬁcation of animate
matter on the earth. The two “dimensions” of life on
earth correspond to the scales of its change with time:
the ecological scale (rapid, “momentary” changes) and
the evolutionary scale (comparatively slow, irreversible
changes). The subdivision of life on earth according to
the main attribute of animate matter on which the clas-
siﬁcation is based corresponds to the two main
branches of life science: ecological and evolutionary
taxonomic. There is no need to explain that neither
branch can exist without the other: they are combined
in evolutionary ecology.
The evolutionary taxonomic subdivision of animate
matter allows us to consider “the ecology of plants” and
“the ecology of fungi” or, e.g., “the ecology of the
wolf” and “the ecology of the frog
we consider the ecology of an individual taxon (e.g., a
Superorganismal Systems in Human Ecology
F. V. Kryazhimskii and V. N. Bolshakov
Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Vos’mogo Marta 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144 Russia
Received December 17, 2004
—Comparison of the current approaches to human ecology shows a contradiction between certain
views on the subject and the methodology of its analysis. The notion of human ecology as the ecology of the
is being developed in terms of modern general ecology and should be considered at all
organizational levels, from individual to global. Material and spiritual cultures, which are the main adaptations
of human beings represent a continuation of the general trend of living matter towards progressive evolution
and are accompanied by an increase in orderliness related to the intensiﬁcation of energy consumption. This
superindividual adaptation determines the human capacity for occupying new ecological niches without chang-
ing the hereditary background. Therefore, consideration of
at the superorganismal level is of spe-
cial importance in human ecology. Analysis of this issue shows that the functional patterns of systems belonging
to this level have certain characteristics in common with those of the population systems of other species.
: ecological systems, humans, adaptation, superorganismal systems, regulation.
A simpliﬁed scheme of the structural organization levels of
biological systems and the sciences by which they are studied.
systems of organs