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Copyright © 2001 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance.

The following is the established format for referencing this article:
Duke, C. 2001. Levin has it right. Conservation Ecology 5(2): r6. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol5/iss2/resp6/

Response to Levin 2000. "Immune systems and ecosystems"

Levin Has It Right

Clifford Duke

The Environmental Company, Inc.

Published: December 11, 2001

"A principal difficulty, however, is defining what normative behavior is desirable" (Levin 2001).

Levin has it right. Furthermore, it is difficult to define the desirable composition of the system. For most organisms, the distinction between self and nonself is relatively clear, making allowances for such complications as gut flora. However, such a distinction is problematic at best for ecosystems; even defining an “invasive species” is a matter of human judgment. If a plant originates in New Hampshire and spreads to California, it may be considered invasive; but what if it spreads only to Vermont? The metaphor of immune systems in ecosystems, like that of the earth as an organism, is appealing, but overlooks important biological complexities.


Responses to this article are invited. If accepted for publication, your response will be hyperlinked to the article. To submit a comment, follow this link. To read comments already accepted, follow this link.


Levin, S. A. 2001. Immune systems and ecosystems. Conservation Ecology 5(1): 17. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/Journal/vol5/iss1/art17

Address of Correspondent:
Clifford Duke
The Environmental Company, Inc.
1611 N. Kent Street, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22209 USA
Phone: (703) 527-5703
Fax: (703) 527-5745

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