1Peter SABO, 1Ingrid TURISOVÁ, 2Martina ŠKODOVÁ, 3Leontína STRIEŽOVSKÁ, 4Zora SNOPKOVÁ


1Katedra biológie a ekológie, Fakulta prírodných vied UMB, Tajovského 40, 974 01 Banská Bystrica,
2Katedra geológie a geografie, Fakulta prírodných vied, Univerzita Mateja Bela, Banská Bystrica
3Katedra kvantitatívnych metód a informačných systémov, Ekonomická fakulta, UMB, Banská Bytrica
4Slovenský hydrometeorologický ústav, Banská Bystrica



The presented monography is an attempt to contribute to the methodology of  ecological complexity (EK) and ecological integrity (EI) assessment at the level of ecosystems and to verify and demonstrate the feasibility of this assessment in practice. As a part of its theoretical background is still rather new, the first chapter is devoted to the theoretical framework, with the emphasis on the theory of non-equilibrium thermodynamics of living systems and its significance. This includes also explanation of the EI concept and a short outline of the history and approaches to assess ecological integrity of ecosystems.

The second chapter presents a short review of starting points and available methodologies, which allowed us to build-up a new and holistic approach to ecological complexity and integrity assessment. This includes synthetic evaluation of the indicators of the functional and structural components of EK and EI. In the first case two indexes of solar energy dissipation and solar energy capture by individual ecosystems have been used, as well as two proxy indexes based on temperature of the ecosystem surface. The evaluation of the structural component puts together the assessments of the species diversity and the assessment of vegetation quality. The first one builds on both standard and less used indexes and the second one builds on indexes of vegetation hemeroby (indicated by vegetation synanthropisation and abundance of alien species), as well as nativeness and nature conservation value (indicated by representation of threatened and endemic species). Seven indexes forming this second group are original. Another added value of this chapter consists in systemic build-up of the synthetic indexes of complexity and integrity, which were built from the species diversity indexes with the input of all the other mentioned indexes.

To verify and demonstrate the feasibility of this approach we have realised experiments in six localities within the period 2009 – 2015, of which we have selected and presented here the results of applying the described methodology in two localities – one situated on the foothills of the Tematin hills in Považský Inovec Mts. and the second one on the terraces with non-forest vegetation in the mountain slopes above Štefanová settlement in Krivánska Fatra Mts. The most important chapters 3 and 4 are based on the selection of the results obtained in these localities. Chapter 4 includes some results which have been already published (which is denoted there) and new ones, developing the case further. Concerning indexes of solar energy dissipation and solar energy capture, these distinctly increase towards higher successive stages (demonstrated in Tematin hills) and towards more wet ecosystems (wetlands, demonstrated in Krivánska Fatra). This underlines the ecological importance of forests and wetlands, but also species rich meadows in a landscape and their distinctive role in mitigating impacts of climate change. Calculations of our original partial indexes of hemeroby and quality of vegetation demonstrated their feasibility and their value in describing horizontal structure of the community in a relatively simple way.

Finally, it should be said that final, synthetic indexes of EK and EI should be understood as a tentative attempt to express EK and EI in an integrated way, which combines such different areas as are solar energy dissipation and hemeroby and quality of vegetation. We stress that these synthetic indexes require further methodological discussion and calibration which may lead to their further improvements.

Keywords: non-equilibrium thermodynamics, ecological complexity, ecological integrity, energy dissipation, species diversity, vegetation hemeroby