1. Thermodynamics as a method: A problem of statistical description.
1.1 Literary introduction. 1.2 Ontic openness. 1.3 The scope of this volume.
2. The laws of classical thermodynamics and their application to ecology.
2.1 Introduction. 2.2 Matter and energy in mechanics and thermodynamics. Energy conservation as the first law of thermodynamics. Fundamental Gibbs Equation. 2.3 Entropy and the second law of thermodynamics: Nernst's theorem. 2.4 Maximal work which the system can perform on its environment. Characteristic functions or thermodynamic potentials. 2.5 Chemical equilibrium, chemical affinity and standard energies of biochemical reactions. Function of dissipation. 2.6 Illustrations of thermodynamics in ecology. 2.7 Ecosystem as a biochemical reactor. 2.8 Summary of the important ecological issues.
3. Second and third law of thermodynamics in open systems.
3.1 Open systems and their energy balance. 3.2 The second law of thermodynamics interpreted for open systems. 3.3 Prigogine's theorem and the evolutionary criterion by Glansdorff-Prigogine. 3.4 The third law of thermodynamics applied on open systems. 3.5 Thermodynamics of living organisms. 3.6 Quantification of openness and allometric principles. 3.7 The temperature range needed for life processes. 3.8 Natural conditions for life.
4. Entropy, probability and information.
4.1 Entropy and probability. 4.2 Entropy and information. 4.3 The system as a text and its information entropy. 4.4 Diversity of biological communities. 4.5 Simple statistical models of biological communities. 4.6 Information analysis of the global vegetation pattern. 4.7 Diversity of the biosphere. 4.8 Information and evolutionary paradigm: Selection of information. 4.9 Genetic information contained in an organism: Hierarchy of information and its redundancy.