An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the system through photosynthesis and is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and microbes.
Ecosystems provide a variety of goods and services upon which people depend. Ecosystem goods include the “tangible, material products” of ecosystem processes such as water, food, fuel, construction material, and medicinal plants. Ecosystem services, on the other hand, are generally “improvements in the condition or location of things of value”. These include things like the maintenance of hydrological cycles, cleaning air and water, the maintenance of oxygen in the atmosphere, crop pollination and even things like beauty, inspiration and opportunities for research. Human activities such as soil loss, air and water pollution, habitat fragmentation, water diverting, fire suppression, imported species, and invasive species all have a negative impact on many ecosystems. These dangers have the potential to drastically alter the environment or to slowly disturb biotic processes and deteriorate abiotic conditions over time. The original ecology is said to have “collapsed” once it has lost its distinguishing characteristics. Restoring ecosystems can help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Origin and development of the term
The term “ecosystem” was first used in 1935 in a publication by British ecologist Arthur Tansley. The term was coined by Arthur Roy Clapham, who came up with the word at Tansley’s request. Tansley devised the concept to draw attention to the importance of transfers of materials between organisms and their environment.
Structure of the Ecosystem
The structure of an ecosystem is characterized by the organization of both biotic and abiotic components. This includes the distribution of energy in our environment. It also includes the climatic conditions prevailing in that particular environment.
The structure of an ecosystem can be split into two main components, namely:
- Biotic Components
- Abiotic Components
The biotic and abiotic components are interrelated in an ecosystem. It is an open system where the energy and components can flow throughout the boundaries.
Biotic components refer to all living Organisms in an ecosystem. Based on nutrition, biotic components can be categorized into;
- Producers include all autotrophs such as plants. They are called autotrophs as they can produce food through the process of photosynthesis. Consequently, all other organisms higher up on the food chain rely on producers for food.
- Consumers or heterotrophs are organisms that depend on other organisms for food. Consumers are further classified into primary consumers, secondary consumers and tertiary consumers.
- Primary consumers are always herbivores as they rely on producers for food.
- Secondary consumers depend on primary consumers for energy. They can either be carnivores or omnivores.
- Tertiary consumers are organisms that depend on secondary consumers for food. Tertiary consumers can also be carnivores or omnivores.
- Quaternary consumers are present in some food chains. These organisms prey on tertiary consumers for energy. Furthermore, they are usually at the top of a food chain as they have no natural predators.
- Decomposers also called reducers, include saprophytes such as fungi and bacteria. They directly thrive on the dead and decaying organic matter. Decomposers are essential for the ecosystem as they help in recycling nutrients to be reused by plants.
The ecosystem’s non-living components are known as abiotic components. It covers things like wind, height, turbidity, sunlight, water, soil, minerals, temperature, and nutrients.
An ecosystem’s main source of energy is the Sun. Light, humidity, temperature, gas, water, air, minerals, soil, geography, and varied ecosystems are more examples of abiotic components.
What Are The Type Of Ecosystem?
We have different types of Ecosystem based pn different cliomates, Habitats and Life forms. There are a lot of ecosystems but they generally fall ubder 2 categories generally:
- Aquatic Ecosystem
- Terrestrial Ecosystem.
Aquatic ecosystems refer to all such ecosystems with their main habitats on or within water bodies. The environment around their ecosystem determines the nature and traits of every living and non-living organism in the aquatic system. Interactions between creatures in these ecosystems and those in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are common.
The aquatic ecosystem is mainly sub-divided into the following types:
Salt content is typically used to describe marine Ecosystem. These habitats contain more salt than a freshwater ecosystem does. They are also regarded as the largest form of ecosystem on the planet. Normally, it covers every ocean and its constituent sections. Additionally, compared to freshwater environments, marine habitats support a higher diversity of flora and animals. Both marine and terrestrial habitats need this kind of ecology.
This ecosystem specifically consists of salt marshes, lagoons, coral reefs, estuaries, intertidal areas, mangrove forests, seafloor, and deep oceans. Some of the most productive habitats are believed to include salt marshes, mangrove forests, and sea-grass meadows. The majority of marine life around the world is known to find enough food and shelter on coral reefs.
The freshwater ecosystem is one of the essential ecosystems for humans and other organisms living on land. This is because this ecosystem is a source of drinking water. Additionally, it also helps in providing the necessary energy and water for transportation, recreation, etc.
Freshwater ecosystems mainly include lentic, lotic, and wetlands.
- Lentic: Water bodies that are moving slowly or are still in some places come under lentic. For example, ponds, lakes, pools, etc. Lakes are known as large water bodies and are surrounded by land.
- Lotic: Water bodies that are moving at a fast pace fall under a lotic. For example, streams and rivers.
- Wetlands: Environments characterized by soils saturated with water for a long time fall under wetlands.
The freshwater ecosystem is the smallest type of ecosystem among the major types of ecosystems. There is usually no salt content in the freshwater ecosystem. Besides, it consists of many insects, small fish, amphibians, and various plant species. Plants help provide oxygen through photosynthesis and also provide food for the organisms living in this ecosystem.
Terrestrial ecosystem refers to all such ecosystems which are mainly located on land. Although the presence of water in these ecosystems is measured, they are entirely land-based and exist on land. More specifically, a low and sufficiently needed amount of water is located in terrestrial ecosystems. The low amount of water separates these ecosystems from aquatic ecosystems. Besides, terrestrial ecosystems typically have temperature fluctuations in both seasonal and diurnal climates. It is also a specific factor that makes these ecosystems different from aquatic ecosystems in similar environments.
Furthermore, the availability of light is somewhat higher in terrestrial ecosystems than in aquatic ecosystems. The reason for this is that the climate in the land is relatively more transparent than water. Due to entirely different light availability and temperature in terrestrial ecosystems, they have diverse flora and fauna. Terrestrial ecosystems include various ecosystems distributed around different geological zones.
Terrestrial ecosystems are mainly classified into the following types:
The mountain ecosystem, as its name suggests, is characterized by mountainous regions with typically cold weather and little rainfall. These ecosystems feature a wide diversity of habitats where different animal and plant species can be discovered as a result of these climate changes. A harsh and chilly temperature prevails in mountainous locations at high altitudes. This explains why these habitats only support treeless alpine vegetation. The majority of animals in these habitats have tick fur coats to shield them from the cold.
On the lower slopes of the Alps, the trees are primarily conifers. Arctic mountain peaks are an example of a mountain ecosystem. The majority of the year, they are covered in snow.
A forest ecosystem is an ecosystem in which a variety of creatures coexist with abiotic elements of the environment. The vegetation and wildlife in this habitat are very diverse. This typically indicates that the forest ecosystem is home to a large number of living creatures that coexist with inert abiotic materials. Various species of plants, animals, microbes, and other organisms often make up the forest ecosystem.
As important carbon sinks, forests help to regulate and maintain the Erath’s average temperature. The entire ecological balance is affected by changes in the forest environment, and the entire ecosystem might also perish as a result of drastic changes or forest loss. Generally speaking, there are five types of forests: tropical deciduous, tropical evergreen, temperate deciduous, and Taig.
Around 17% of all desert lands are covered by desert ecosystems. These are regions with typical annual rainfall measurements of less than 25 mm. Sunlight is stronger in these habitats because there are fewer trees and more sand. This explains why these ecosystems have extremely little water availability and high temperatures. However, it gets really cold at night.
The vegetation and wildlife of the desert habitat are distinctive. Plants require little water to flourish, and they store as much of that water as they can in their leaves and stems. For instance, a variety of desert plant known as the spiny-leafed cactus may store water on its stem. Animals are similarly adapted to the state of desert habitats. Camels, reptiles, a wide variety of insects, and birds are among common creatures.
Ecosystems with a low tree population are referred to as grassland ecosystems. In these environments, grasses, shrubs, and plants predominate. Thus, together with legumes that often belong to the composite family, grasses make up the majority of the vegetation in these habitats.
Globally, grassland ecosystems are frequently found in both tropical and temperate climates, although they differ in important ways. Savanna grasslands and temperate grasslands are two examples of these habitats. Numerous grazing animals, insectivores, and herbivores call them home.
What Is The Effect Of Man On The Ecosystem
For every corn field you see, chances are good there was once a forest in its place. As our population continues to increase, humans create more and larger farms, which means removing the dwindling number of forests. Forests are also cleared for the lumber that we use to build our houses and to make room for new houses. About 18 million acres of trees are clear-cut every year for wood. This has devastating effects for the wildlife that once called those forests home. The biggest problem with deforestation is that it destroys the ecosystem.
Environmental scientists have been warning us for years that the ecosystem of the world is being impacted by the CO2 emissions that result from burning fossil fuels. The atmosphere’s increased CO2 content retains heat that would otherwise escape into space, raising the temperature of the planet as a whole. Ocean levels have increased as a result of the melting of Arctic ice and glaciers. In a cycle that is expected to result in ocean levels rising 1 to 4 feet by 2100, the loss of heat-reflecting ice and an increase in water, which absorbs heat, add to the rising temperatures.
- We can prevent energy by conservation of energy.
- Sustainable infrastructure is also an important measure to fight against global warming.
- Deforestation needs to be controlled to control Global warming.
- We need to minimize our consumption of food as if consumption is less it will generate lesser waste that should be disposed of.
- Save water to minimize carbon pollution as it takes much energy to pump, treat or heat water for usage.
- Create awareness about global warming.
Humans introduce undesired waste into the land, the water, and the air. The number of people without access to clean water is around 2.4 billion. The United States alone generates 147 tons of air pollution. In some nations, the lethal smog brought on by air pollution can completely block out the sun in a thick cloud. There aren’t many clean beaches to be found in the globe. Every year, over 300 million tons of plastic are produced by humans. In 2017, it was projected that 5 trillion bits of plastic contaminated the oceans, with more than 8 million tons of that plastic ending up there. Wildlife suffers greatly as a result of ocean garbage.
- It can be prevented by proper waste management and developing green chemistry.
- The population growth must be controlled.
- Planting of trees.
- Every Citizen should be imparted with responsbility of keeping the environment clean.
- Reduce the burning of fossil fuel to reduce global warming and air pollution.
When resources are taken away or altered, the land is no longer able to support the biological groups that are present there naturally. This frequently causes biodiversity loss and occasionally even the extinction of entire species.
Natural events like earthquakes, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions among others can occasionally ruin the habitats of living things. Human actions, however, often result in habitat loss or devastation that is irreversible and to which living things are unable to adapt. As a result, the ecosystem becomes unbalanced due to the decline in the populations of some species or the unchecked proliferation of others.
Habitat destruction can be classified into three categories:
- Destruction: This type of loss of habitats of species occurs when actions of the complete transformation of an ecosystem are carried out in a very short time.
- Degradation: This happens when human activities gradually impact the biotic or abiotic conditions of the habitat, causing the gradual loss of wild species.
- Fragmentation: This form of habitat loss occurs when artificial barriers are placed in an ecosystem that prevents the free movement of animals or exposes them to dangers for their survival
- Stop deforestation.
- Reduction in the amount of waste.
- introduction of fines against illegal dumping.
- Reduce the usage of Fertilizers and pesticide since it results in soil pollution.
- Create protected lands so as to preserve the natural habitats.
- Manage existing lands in a proper way