I was perusing the net today and came across this really cool story from Wired Magazine's online edition. It's about a Harvard University biologist who studies the tiny ecosystems of the carnivorous pitcher plant -- so named because of its shape and for the fact that it holds rainwater.
Here's the deal... Studying an ecosystem is difficult for a litany of reasons, ranging from the unethical to the impractical. Scientists can observe to their hearts content, but actually making changes to the ecosystem to see what happens is another matter. We've set up things to replicate nature, like the biosphere project in Arizona, and that's worked to some degree. But you can't do any better than working in nature itself.