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While some ecologists were studying the dynamics of communities and populaces, others were concerned through energy budgets. In 1920 August Thienemann, a Gerguy freshwater biologist, introduced the concept of trophic, or feeding, levels (see trophic level), by which the energy of food is transferred with a series of organisms, from green plants (the producers) as much as a number of levels of animals (the consumers). An English pet ecologist, Charles Elton (1927), even more arisen this strategy with the concept of environmental niches and pyramids of numbers. In the 1930s, Amerideserve to freshwater biologists Edward Birge and also Chancey Juday, in measuring the power budgets of lakes, emerged the concept of major performance, the price at which food power is generated, or resolved, by photosynthesis. In 1942 Raymond L. Lindeman of the USA arisen the trophic-dynamic idea of ecology, which details the circulation of energy with the ecodevice. Quantified area studies of energy flow with ecounits were further occurred by the brothers Eugene Odum and Howard Odum of the United States; similar beforehand job-related on the cycling of nutrients was done by J.D. Ovington of England also and Australia. (See area ecology: Trophic pyramids and also the flow of energy; biosphere: The flow of energy and nutrient cycling.)

The examine of both energy circulation and also nutrient cycling was stimulated by the development of brand-new products and techniques—radioisotope tracers, microcalorimetry, computer science, and also used mathematics—that permitted ecologists to label, track, and also measure the activity of particular nutrients and energy via ecodevices. These contemporary approaches (view below Methods in ecology) encouraged a new phase in the advancement of ecology—systems ecology, which is concerned through the structure and also function of ecodevices.