What is ecosystem?

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An Ecosystem in a nutshell, refers to a system where various individual organisms react or interact with their natural environment. In an ecosystem different organisms interact with each other and co-exist in their common physical environment. The ecosystem ensures the survival and living of these organisms and the exchange of nutrients within the system enable it to be self-confined. However, ecosystems may also include man made elements and are not necessarily all biological or naturally occurring. Each component of a physical environment, both biological and man made are involved in an ecosystem.

What does the ecosystem consists of?

The ecosystem consists of both biotic and abiotic components. The biotic components consist of living organisms such as microbes, bacteria, animals, humans and plants as well as their by-products which consist of waste and man made creations. On the contrary, the abiotic components of the ecosystem although integral, are beyond the control of living organisms. These components include the climate, sunlight, air, water and soil. The working of the ecosystem depends on the harmonic come existence of biotic and abiotic components. The harmony between the two components is crucial for the healthy existence of an ecosystem, as both of these components affect each other. The biotic sector thriving in an ecosystem generally involve different categories of organisms that coexist together including herbivores, carnivores, omnivores and other decomposer organisms which help in recycling nutrients and elements. These decomposer classes mostly include saprophytes that feed on dead and decaying matter and help in the process of recycling nutrients from the dead organisms. These saprophytes include protozoans, bacteria and fungi. These organisms feed on dead and decaying organisms by secreting enzymes that break down the chemicals in the object. These saprophytes are further utilized as food for other organisms which further helps in the process of decomposition and recycling. The final stage of decomposition occurs with the absorption of nutrient-poor residue by plants.

Examples of ecosystem

An ecosystem can be as small as pond or as large as an ocean but the fundamental of its working depends on the transition and consumption of energy. For example, solar energy is utilized by plants to make chemical energy which is further transferred into organisms that feel on these plants. The constant recycling of energy ensures the healthy working of an ecosystem. The productivity of an ecosystem can be diversified into two categories: primary and secondary. The primary productivity of an ecosystem depends on the rate at which organic matter produced is produced during photosynthesis. In a broader point of view, the productivity of an ecosystem is largely dependent on a variety of factors such as rainfall, sunlight, temperature and availability of nutrients. These factors unsure the production of organic matter that is utilized by the living organisms in an ecosystem. The total amount of organic matter present at any given point in an ecosystem is known as biomass.

Further functioning of the ecosystem

An ecosystem also functions with a food chain, which serves as an integral part in the survival of living organisms in it. The food chain includes autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms. Organisms that produce their own food for their sustenance are known as autotrophic organisms. On the contrary organisms that depend on their environment and other organisms for their food are known as heterotrophic organisms. A food chain consists of organisms belonging to both of these categories. These organisms are further classified into steps in which one step follows the other. For example: the producers (plants) are consumed by primary consumers (herbivores) and primary consumers are further consumed by secondary consumers (carnivores) and so on. The cycle goes on till the nutrients of decomposed matter are utilized by plants, where the cycle begins all over again. The food chain exists in all ecosystems and is crucial for the existence of all living organisms thay thrive in it.

Behaviour of organisms

The behaviour of organisms that reside in an ecosystem determines its health. A healthy ecosystem is where the biotic and abiotic coexist without affecting each other in a negative way. In this era, humans have claimed the top stop at the food chain and evolved to utilize every component of the ecosystem, often affecting it in a negative way. Exhausting of environmental and animal resources have majorly effected the ecosystem. These problems are brought on by factors like overpopulation, deforestation, wastage and lack of sustainable resources.

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