cology online is the digital extension of collaborative research in the ecological sciences.

The past ten years have born witness to a revolution in information technologies, opening new doors for research, education, and results dissemination. Likewise, the ecological sciences have evolved into a diverse set of sub-disciplines; each with some of their own languages, techniques, and professional cultures.

But a recent call for a "system perspective" in ecological thought and conservation practice demands a holistic component for these somewhat fractured fields. The system perspective is one in which all ecological components (human, animal, plant, microbial, physical, mathematical {random: etc.}) are considered interconnected and equally important. An ecosystem approach recognizes that the study of our diverse biological world demands a multi-scale approach from a diverse array of experts.

When we seek to understand the role and importance of biological diversity, describe the ecological impacts of human extraction or abuse, or forcast the future of endangered species, there are many chairs at the table. No particular field of study is dominant in attempting to make projections or decisions. Much like a weather team, the specific system factoids are assembled, their interactions considered, projections are produced, and due caution in their interpretation is invoked. At best actual confidence intervals are placed around our projections of system performance. At worst our inability to make realistic projections is highlighted, and future research goals are outlined.

Understanding ecological relationships across and between diverse habitats and scales is the very back bone of system's thought, and requires extensive collaboration and communication both within and between sub-disciplines in the ecological sciences. This site is dedicated to the integration of Internet technologies with the study and preservation of our natural world. Our goals are to facilitate ecological research, conservation biology, and environmental education using remote sensing and information dissemination via the Internet. We strive to make EcologyOnline a central holding place of unique ecological information and expertise. A place to discover new collaborators and new techniques, to uncover the professional news of the day, or to discover tools for public education. But our project is only just now in the making.

For the moment EcologyOnline and its visitors are a sounding board for trial projects. In this version, our first attempt, we are monitoring the Biosphere2 fish community, discussing the cichlids of Lake Victoria, and educating the scientific, fishing, and public sectors of California about the current status of research and conservation of nearshore fisheries resources.

At this time our focus is, admittedly, aquatic. Our lab's strengths lie primarily in the ecology, systematics, and conservation of aquatic organisms. But we plan to take EcologyOnline far beyond the limitations of our personal expertise. Please take a moment and explore this site. We hope it will give you some flavor as to our hopes and goals for this venture. We look forward to your comments and to meeting new friends and collaborators in this digital experiment.

In the near future we would like to develop a database of ecological experts, and one of Internet resources in the ecological sciences. We plan to consult with several laboratories and educational institutions in conducting research over the Internet and allowing the world to share in this process.

Thank you for your initial interest and future support. Please stop in often and watch as our digital community evolves.