This volume comprises the proceedings of the International Workshop on Eco- logical Goal Functions, held at the Schleswig-Holstein Cultural Center of Salzau, August 30 -September 4, 1996. The conference - first in a series - intended to be convened at Salzau at 1 -2 year intervals to address various aspects of theo- retical and application-oriented ecology, was initiated, organized and carried out under the auspices of the Ecology Center of the Kiel University. It featured key- note addresses, invited lectures, submitted papers, and posters. 32 contributions written by authors from eight countries, were selected to be presented in this book. From the very rich discussions of the workshop, some general characteristics emerged which might become important for a deeper understanding of the nature of evolving systems or, in other words, systems with a history, described by variables with a high degree of interdependence. These characteristics include the following: Speaking of 'goal functions' is a convenient 'fa~on de parler', since a logical analysis of the formal structure of teleological and causal explanations shows that both are analogous with regard to the inherent structural typology and the basic mode of explanation. Teleological interpretations introduce motives or objectives of actors into the set of 'antecedens' conditions relevant for system evolution, and are consequently a subset of causal interpretations.