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Keywords:

  • ecological analogy;
  • food web;
  • industrial ecology (IE);
  • industrial ecosystem;
  • industrial symbiosis (IS);
  • metaphor

Summary

The ecological metaphor of industrial ecology is a proven conceptual tool, having spawned an entire field of interdisciplinary research that explores the intimate linkages between industry and its underlying natural systems. Besides its name and a number of borrowed concepts, however, industrial ecology has no formal relationship with the ecological sciences. This study explores the potential for further interdisciplinary collaboration by testing whether some of the same quantitative analysis techniques used in community ecology research can have meaning in an industrial context. Specifically, we applied the ecological concepts of connectance and diversity to an analysis of Burnside Industrial Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our results demonstrate that these ecological tools show promise for use in industrial ecology. We discuss the meaning of connectance and diversity concepts in an industrial context and suggest next steps for future studies. We hope that this research will help to lay the groundwork of an ecologically inspired tool kit for analyzing industrial ecosystems.