Setting the stage -- Ideas of stability and equilibrium in ecological thought -- Evolution and ecology -- Spatio-temporal organization -- (Spatio)Temporal organization in simple communities -- On how to delineate the structure of ecological networks -- Attempt at a synthesis and some speculations. Publisher description: How do ecosystems combine function and adaptability despite comprising large ensembles of individual populations that are not subject to any central control? This question is addressed in The Dynamic Nature of Ecosystems by replacing the prevailing static view of the balance of nature with a more dynamic perspective. It argues that it is the trade-off between the irregular, chaotic dynamics at the population level and the spatio-temporal organization of the system as a whole, that shapes ecological systems. Such a trade-off is mediated by the effects of positive feedback that link populations across time and space. By rejecting a purely mechanistic perception, this volume sets out to develop a new framework within which the dynamic nature and organization of ecosystems can be understood. Such a perspective leads to emphasizing uncertainty as an essential part of ecological systems instead of viewing it as an obstacle impeding quantitative evaluations and predictions. It is suggested in the book that it may be impossible to consider this issue solely from within the natural sciences, and indeed a collaborative effort by empirical and theoretical ecologists, resource managers, and social scientists may be needed in order to develop adequate concepts along these lines of reasoning, for tackling the pressing environmental problems facing humankind today.