A new understanding of the consequences of how ecosystem elements are interconnected is emerging from the development and application of Ecological Network Analysis. The relative importance of indirect effects is central to this understanding, and the ratio of indirect flow to direct flow (I/D) is one indicator of their importance. Two methods have been proposed for calculating this indicator. The unit approach shows what would happen if each system member had a unit input or output, while the realized technique determines the ratio using the observed system inputs or outputs. When using the unit method, the input oriented and output oriented ratios can be different, potentially leading to conflicting results. However, we show that the input and output oriented I/D ratios are identical using the realized method when the system is at steady state. This work is a step in the maturation of Ecological Network Analysis that will let it be more readily testable empirically and ultimately more useful for environmental assessment and management.Comment: 13 pages, 1 figure, 1 tabl
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