The Heartbeat of Ecosystems

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Science  15 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6087, pp. 1393-1394
DOI: 10.1126/science.1223250

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People generally equate health with a long and active life, but when it comes to ecosystems there is no agreement on what it means to be healthy. On page 1438 of this issue, Woodward et al. (1) show that different conclusions on the health of stream ecosystems can be reached depending on which combinations of metrics are used to assess them. The work points to an urgent need for a general framework for assessing ecosystem health.