Use of Thermodynamic Orientors to Assess the Efficiency of Ecosystems: A Case Study in the Lagoon of Venice
So-called orientors have been introduced at the interface between ecology and thermodynamics. Two have been chosen here to compare the characteristics of five ecological systems: exergy, which is related to the degree of organization of a system and represents the biogeochemical energy of a system, and emergy, which is defined as the total amount of solar energy directly or indirectly required to generate a product or a service. They represent two complementary aspects of a system: the actual state and the past work needed to reach that state. The ratio of exergy to the emergy flow indicates the efficiency of an ecosystem in producing or maintaining its organization.The main system under study is a portion of the Venice Lagoon, which is used as a fish farming basin. Four other aquatic ecosystems were considered for comparison. Results show that the ecosystem within the Venice Lagoon is the one with the highest efficiency in transforming the available inputs in organization of the system. This fact is due to human intervention, which is very limited but also very effective.