Biocenosis / biotopes

Biosphere: Earth cover inhabited by living organisms and transformed by them.

The term has lost it’s “bio” component as at present there are more man-made material on Earth than live matter; the process is accelerating, making the use of the term inappropriate and announcing the death of the biosphere.

Ecosystem: a biological system (biogeocenosis), consisting of a community of living organisms (biocenosis), their habitat (biotope), interacting as a system, with its own metabolism and energy exchange.

The term is at present been applied to any environment, not only natural.

Most of the natural ecosystems of the Earth are in positive feedback, very little resilience left.

Biome : community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in.

Biocenosis : interacting organisms living together in a habitat (biotope).

Biotope: area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living place for a specific assemblage of plants and animals.

Biodiversity: diversity of living nature. Biodiversity Convention: variability of among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are parts of; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. 

Earth cycle: Biodiversity ➜ specialisation ➜ extinction. About 50 % of species disappear at each major crisis (Permian extinction - 96 % of species). Each crisis is a reset of biodiversity.

Gaia: the hypothesis that the living and nonliving components of earth function as a single system in such a way that the living component regulates and maintains conditions (such as the temperature of the ocean or composition of the atmosphere) so as to be suitable for life. F.e. coral may use a Gaia-like feedback mechanism to regulate the amount of sunlight it receives.

The terms “biocenosis” and “biotope”, the connection biotope-biocenosis and “network of biotopes” seem to be best adapted to the needs of the project

The network of biotopes under the project consist of approximately 1800 ha broadly divided into the following categories:

  1. The valley floor (approx. 480 ha), which includes:

    -  about 100 ha wetlands

    -  250 ha of pines (Pinus ponderosa and Pinus contorta) planted under Conaf (National Forest Corporation of Chile) projects in 2004 and 2005;

    - 40 ha rock collapse (the result of a glacier lake outburst flood in 2001) ;

•   Ancient lake terraces (25 ha) ;

•   Steep slopes (450 ha) ;

  1.   Higher areas – a mixture of small lakes, wetlands, pockets of forest, and exposed and heavily eroded areas.

       The major problems are results of the fires in the mid 20th century, followed by grazing by sheep and cattle, and logging.  There is heavy erosion in some areas, and total soil loss in some of the higher areas and slopes.  Invasive species such as rosa mosqueta, magellan barberry (calafate) and other woody shrubs are present in areas where cattle and sheep were previously present. In most areas forests were devastated, that resulted in loss of habitat for native fauna. The ecological community is changing into a shrub steppe with exotic species.

        The location is bounded by rivers, by a lake and a glacier. It is adjacent to the San Rafael National Park and located close to the Northern Patagonian icefield.  It hosts a wide variety of birds, and there is a noticeable increase in the numbers of water birds there on a seasonal basis.  Fauna is more limited, although native foxes and small animals (mainly rodents) can be found.  There are signs of the presence of pumas, foxes and other native animals, such as dwarf armadillos and bats. Wetlands host a variety of amphibians. Removal of unnecessary fences is allowing free movement of other native animals, in particular herbivores, such as huemules (South Andean deer) that are found in adjacent areas. Ecological shifts led to domination of the biotopes by herbivores.


    The key biotope of the project is the forest, a complex and rich ecosystem, in particular the very few remaining old trees. Without the influence of humans, the entire Earth would have been covered by forest, except where the ground is swampy or too dry.                                                                                                                                             Native forest cadastre, Conaf.

The project is using the concepts of the biosphere theory in its original understanding, and approach the biocenosis as a whole, without dissecting the infinite complexity of interlinkages of Nature and of the living matter:


Half of living matter on Earth has vanished since we arrived.pdf

The biomass distribution on Earth.pdf

Берегите эти земли, эти воды

даже малую былиночку любя.

Берегите всех зверей внутри природы,

Убивайте лишь зверей внутри себя.

                                    Е. Евтушенко

Save these lands, these waters

Loving any little ounce of life.

Save all nature beasts from slaughters

Slaughter only beasts who in you rife.

                                            E. Yevtushenko

                                            Russian poet

Project’s translation


A novel ecosystem, reconstructed after the annihilating deliberate fires of 1939, and subsequent years of sheep and cattle overgrazing, grown on the base of the vanished soil cover and crossed biotic and abiotic thresholds. In ecological terms the landscape is not attractive: a lot of open space, and “nature abhors a vacuum”. But it is the only possible: a natural ecosystem is the most complex thing and the best, since it has been selected by evolution from many options. In social terms the ecosystem is not favourable in economic perspective.

The region’s colonisation in the first part of the XX century greatly contributed to the loss of the biodiversity of Earth ecosystems. The valley can be described as a “anthropogenically destroyed ecological zone”, its ecosystem integrity was seriously undermined. It illustrates the future of areas burnt globally in 2019 - 2020. In geological terms it is a young valley, with fewer endemic species, the vegetation had no time. 

As Patagonia is and has been generally a poor biotope and multi-species ecosystems can respond as single super-organism to selective pressure, the continued present human pressure is highly detrimental to this novel ecosystem.

As ecosystems and species in those are moving toward the poles at an average rate of about 8 inches (20 cm) per hour, or 11 miles (17.6 km) per decade, and upward at an average rate of about 40 feet (12.2 meters) per decade due to climate change, the future of the development of the local biocenosis is difficult to predict. Crop pests are moving polewards at a rate of 2,7 km a year (based on 50 years studies).


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