The pathogenic. These relationships, the authors state,

Thepurpose of the journal article written by Allen and Hoekstra in 1990 is to proposea new scheme for organizing ecological hierarchies that takes into accountscale, in terms of time and space.  The conventionalecological classification system develops in a linear fashion and progressesfrom cell (level 1) to biosphere (level 8).

 The authors argue that this system is too strict in its organization.  It does not account for relationships thatare more complicated, containing multiple overlaps and levels.  For example, one could consider a cow(organism, level 2) and then, beyond that, a herd (population, level 3) andthen all species living in the field (community, level 4).  However, this clear-cut system does notconsider the microbiome of the cow, the millions of bacterial species residingin its intestines.  One could see thebacterial cell as the cell (level 1), which has its own ecosystem (level 5)inside the gut of a cow (organism, level 2).

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 The conventional system does not easily allow for multiple overlappingrelationships, such as those between host and microbe, be that mutualistic orpathogenic.  These relationships, theauthors state, do not fit within the classic organizational system where thelevels proceed linearly.  The authorsmention that the difficulty in organizing relationships is not only what makesecology complicated but also what makes it so exciting.  In order to address limitations in theconventional system, Allen and Hoekstra propose a scaled adaptation thatmodifies the conventional system.  Thisallows ecologists to view the conventional levels of organism, population,community, ecosystem, landscape, and biome, all at the same time.

  By simultaneous observation at a specificscale, ecologists can better depict the interconnected relationships betweenbiological systems. The proposed organizational system does not have a linearorganization, instead it relates the conventional system to a scaled system. 


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