Ecology is the study of relationships among organisms and their environment. Consideration of these relationships usually begins with focus on individuals or populations of a single species and subsequently broadens to include communities of organisms and, eventually, ecosystems.
Conceptually, the foundation of IPM is ecological. Ideal IPM programs are those that fully embrace ecosystem structure and processes in time and space. In reality, ecological complexity increases dramatically with each step from population to community to ecosystem. Such complexity challenges the realization of ideal IPM programs.
One approach that has been taken toward recognition of the ecological foundation of IPM, especially in developing countries, accentuates the pest-suppressing properties inherent in natural ecosystems as primary building blocks for the construct of human-designed ecosystems. After system construction based on ecological principles, the intent is to minimize human intervention to the greatest extent possible while still maintaining pest populations within tolerable levels.
Another approach, common in developed countries, takes as its starting point an existing ecosystem constructed by humans and aims at reducing negative impact in a succession of steps used in the management of pests. Such an approach usually commences with a focus on the ecology of a single-species population and may expand to consideration of structures and processes associated with communities and ecosystems.
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