This book had its genesis at an encounter with the title ‘Unity in Diversity. A Conference on Ecology after the Legacy of Ramon Margalef’, organised on a team basis by three Spanish scientific societies, the Spanish Association of Terrestrial Ecology (AEET), the Iberian Limnological Association (AIL, formerly AEL) and the Spanish Society of Ethology (SEE), hosted by CosmoCaixa, The Science Museum of the “la Caixa” Foundation, in Barcelona, and sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Science, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Fundación Biodiversidad.
The name of the event sought to encapsulate Margalef’s central contribution and to stimulate discussion about the current state of ecology and its ability to mount a cohesive response to the challenges of global change and environmental crisis. Ecology, as a science of synthesis, sets out to explain the functioning of ecological systems by integrating knowledge drawn, in the main, from other sciences. Besides biology, ecology interacts with sciences like physics, in particular thermodynamics, which offers an explanatory framework for ecosystem functioning, mathematics, which gives us the tools to translate ecological theories into manageable expressions, and chemistry, which helps us to understand biogeochemical cycles and the matter and energy transformations at work in ecosystemic processes.