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What is an ecosystem?

Biology | 7-14 yrs | Interactive, Learning Pod, Reading Pod

In an ecosystem, each organism has its role to play. A forest has trees, herbivorous animals, carnivorous animals, birds, reptiles and insects.

How ecosystem works?

We know that the lions feast on deer, zebras and other small animals. We also know that humans are fond of hunting lions and tigers; though hunting has been banned by law, some poachers are still out there killing lions and tigers illegally.

What will happen if we take out lions and tigers completely from the forest ecosystem?

The population of the herbivorous animals will multiply in leaps and bounds and they will plunder the grasslands for food. The lack or absence of vegetation will result in soil erosion, lowering down the quality and fertility of the soil which will eventually affect us.

How non living things affect an ecosystem?

It is not just the presence or absence of the living organisms that affects the functioning of the ecosystem, but the abiotic or the non-living factors also play an important role in the ecosystem.

Industrialization and excessive use of fossil fuels for energy has resulted in serious environmental threats like global warming, ozone hole and pollution. Because of human intervention, our environment has changed, our climate has changed. Any disturbance or disruption to an ecosystem can be fatal to all organisms within the ecosystem.

Codependency in ecosystem

All the members of an ecosystem share a unique relationship with each other and depend on one another in order to get energy to survive. The energy flow in an ecosystem starts with the sun. Plants use the sun’s energy in the process of photosynthesis for manufacturing their food. These plants are eaten by herbivorous animals and the sun’s energy, in form of carbohydrates, flows from the plants to these animals.

When the herbivorous animals become food for the carnivorous animals, the energy of the sun stored in their bodies gets transferred to the carnivorous animals. The carnivorous animals may again be eaten by larger animals and when this happens, another energy transfer takes place. This pattern continues until the living organism dies and it is time for the bacterial decomposers to do their work.

Food chain in ecosystem

This ‘who eats whom’ list that also shows the path of transfer of sun’s energy in an ecosystem is known as a food chain. In an ecosystem, multiple food chains may exist. A collection of several complex food chains is known as a food web.