Up until now, I’ve associated ecosystems with a bottom up perspective-the physical and chemical factors in primary productions. Whether it be the amount of sunlight available to plants, the temperature of the ecosystem, or maybe the nutrients in the soil, I’ve generally removed the consumer for the equation of controlling plant growth. When we narrow the scope of our discussion to plant growth, I’ve always failed to realize a consumer’s impact. Perhaps I’ve seen pollution as a consumer influence,waste management being my contribution to controlling an ecosystem. However, understanding ecology through a top down lens is something new to me.
Silliman’s article challenged this conventional idea of looking at our ecosystems through a bottom up perspective. Surprisingly, the top down idea controls the salt marsh communities. Through his experiment, he manipulated the consumer densities in the salt marshes, thus showing that the high plant production in salt marshes was a result of a trophic cascade lens.
What I found fascinating from Silliman’s article was that he posed a hypothesis, contrary to popular belief. Not only did he dare to present the idea, he believes that his findings supersede what was once believed with regard to plant growth. If only Silliman’s experiment were publicized more, it can have a profound effect. I am sure that I am not a minority in asserting that my effect on controlling an ecosystem is minimal. Perhaps with more publicity of his findings, others will acknowledge and recognize their consumer influence on our ecosystems, and moreover, reevaluate their actions with regard to ecology.