What is an Ecosystem?
An ecosystem can be described as the product of interactions between a particular area’s biotic and abiotic components. Each ecosystem is formed by multiple components and has unique importance. Hence, the ecosystem varies from region to region due to variations in components.
However, the concept of ecosystem, its formation, importance, and its types is broad, and one cannot understand the topic accurately in brief. Therefore, this Ecosystem study material has been curated to give a more profound and complete concept of the ecosystem.
An ecosystem is a fundamental component of nature. It is defined as the space of life formed by the weather, environmental features, and biotic & abiotic components of a place. Numerous unique ecosystems regulate living at a place in the world, and almost every ecosystem is interdependent. Moreover, the ecosystem of any place is a distinctive habitat in itself, and any specific living creatures cannot sustain in all ecosystems.
The concept of the ecosystem was first described and named by an English botanist, Sir Arthur G.Tansley, in 1935.
Formation of Ecosystem
The ecosystem consists of two major components – Biotic and Abiotic. Factors such as climate, topography, and geography of the area also influence the two components and further result in the variation. Besides, several ecological processes bind all these components and factors and form an ecosystem. Let us read in detail about them:
Biotic components are the class of all living creatures, from producers to consumers to decomposers. All human beings, animals, birds, plants and trees, or any other living bacteria or organisms can be called the ecosystem’s biotic components. All biotic components rely on abiotic components of the ecosystem for their survival.
All naturally available resources or occurring factors are abiotic components. Elements such as sunlight, air, gases, sand, minerals, rocks, landscapes are abiotic components of the ecosystem. These abiotic components are the driving factors of the ecosystem. Biotic factors sustain and evolve on the basis of abiotic components.
Biotic and abiotic factors can form an ecosystem only when they are all together. Without their union, the formation of the ecosystem is not possible. Some binding factors attach these components and help the ecosystem evolve and sustain. Nutrient cycles and energy flows are critical and interlinking factors.
Types of Ecosystems
There are mainly three ecosystems – Terrestrial, Aquatic, and Artificial ecosystems. Except for the artificial ecosystem, all ecosystems occur naturally.
Terrestrial ecosystems can be developed only on land. It can not be found in water bodies. Deserts, forests, plateaus, and mountains are areas where we can see terrestrial ecosystems. Terrestrial ecosystems comprise numerous variations; some of the variations are the grassland ecosystem, desert ecosystem, and forest ecosystem.
Aquatic ecosystems are found in water bodies such as oceans, lakes, ponds, etc. The marine, lotic, and lentic ecosystems can be classified as aquatic ecosystems.
As the name suggests, artificial ecosystems are man-made ecosystems. These ecosystems are generally arranged by humans for different purposes. Zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens are some examples of artificial ecosystems.
Importance of Ecosystem
An ecosystem plays a crucial role in any habitat. Every biotic factor relies on the ecosystem for all its needs: water, food, sunlight, etc. Hence, crop rotation, afforestation, conservation of natural resources, and wildlife play vital roles in an ecosystem. A stable and prosperous ecosystem offers maximum growth to all the components and factors.
Natural occurring processes of the ecosystem which create the interaction and interlinking between organisms are called ‘ecological processes’. These processes are the unbreakable chain that attaches all components of the ecosystem and promotes regulation. Some general ecological processes are energy flow and biochemical & nutrient cycling.
- Energy Flow – The energy transfer from one organism to another can be termed energy flow. Food chains and webs, where power flows downwards from upper trophic levels, are examples of energy flows
- Biochemical & nutrient cycling – These cycles are responsible for transferring the energies, nutrients, and chemicals from any surroundings (living or nonliving) to living organisms. The water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle are some major types of nutrient cycles
In a nutshell, an ecosystem is one of the prime components of nature and an element of ecology. The ecosystem’s processes and other aspects are necessities of our nature. We have discussed all significant aspects of an ecosystem, namely formation, types, importance, and several examples for a better understanding.