An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life. Ecosystems contain biotic or living, parts, as well as abiotic factors, or nonliving parts. Biotic factors include plants, animals, and other organisms. Abiotic factors include rocks, temperature, and humidity.
Every factor in an ecosystem depends on every other factor, either directly or indirectly. A change in the temperature of an ecosystem will often affect what plants will grow there, for instance. Animals that depend on plants for food and shelter will have to adapt to the changes, move to another ecosystem, or perish.
Ecosystems can be very large or very small. Tide pools, the ponds left by the ocean as the tide goes out, are complete, tiny ecosystems. Tide pools contain seaweed, a kind of algae, which uses photosynthesis to create food. Herbivores such as abalone eat the seaweed. Carnivores such as sea stars eat other animals in the tide pool, such as clams or mussels. Tide pools depend on the changing level of ocean water. Some organisms, such as seaweed, thrive in an aquatic environment, when the tide is in and the pool is full. Other organisms, such as hermit crabs, cannot live underwater and depend on the shallow pools left by low tides. In this way, the biotic parts of the ecosystem depend on abiotic factors.
The whole surface of Earth is a series of connected ecosystems. Ecosystems are often connected in a larger biome. Biomes are large sections of land, sea, or atmosphere. Forests, ponds, reefs, and tundra are all types of biomes, for example. They're organized very generally, based on the types of plants and animals that live in them. Within each forest, each pond, each reef, or each section of tundra, you'll find many different ecosystems.
The biome of the Sahara Desert, for instance, includes a wide variety of ecosystems. The arid climate and hot weather characterize the biome. Within the Sahara are oasis ecosystems, which have date palm trees, freshwater, and animals such as crocodiles. The Sahara also has dune ecosystems, with the changing landscape determined by the wind. Organisms in these ecosystems, such as snakes or scorpions, must be able to survive in sand dunes for long periods of time. The Sahara even includes a marine environment, where the Atlantic Ocean creates cool fogs on the Northwest African coast. Shrubs and animals that feed on small trees, such as goats, live in this Sahara ecosystem.
Even similar-sounding biomes could have completely different ecosystems. The biome of the Sahara Desert, for instance, is very different from the biome of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and China. The Gobi is a cold desert, with frequent snowfall and freezing temperatures. Unlike the Sahara, the Gobi has ecosystems based not in sand, but kilometers of bare rock. Some grasses are able to grow in the cold, dry climate. As a result, these Gobi ecosystems have grazing animals such as gazelles and even takhi, an endangered species of wild horse.
Even the cold desert ecosystems of the Gobi are distinct from the freezing desert ecosystems of Antarctica. Antarcticas thick ice sheet covers a continent made almost entirely of dry, bare rock. Only a few mosses grow in this desert ecosystem, supporting only a few birds, such as skuas.
Threats to Ecosystems
For thousands of years, people have interacted with ecosystems. Many cultures developed around nearby ecosystems. Many Native American tribes of North Americas Great Plains developed a complex lifestyle based on the native plants and animals of plains ecosystems, for instance. Bison, a large grazing animal native to the Great Plains, became the most important biotic factor in many Plains Indians cultures, such as the Lakota or Kiowa. Bison are sometimes mistakenly called buffalo. These tribes used buffalo hides for shelter and clothing, buffalo meat for food, and buffalo horn for tools. The tallgrass prairie of the Great Plains supported bison herds, which tribes followed throughout the year.
As human populations have grown, however, people have overtaken many ecosystems. The tallgrass prairie of the Great Plains, for instance, became farmland. As the ecosystem shrunk, fewer bison could survive. Today, a few herds survive in protected ecosystems such as Yellowstone National Park.
In the tropical rain forest ecosystems surrounding the Amazon River in South America, a similar situation is taking place. The Amazon rain forest includes hundreds of ecosystems, including canopies, understories, and forest floors. These ecosystems support vast food webs.
Canopies are ecosystems at the top of the rainforest, where tall, thin trees such as figs grow in search of sunlight. Canopy ecosystems also include other plants, called epiphytes, which grow directly on branches. Understory ecosystems exist under the canopy. They are darker and more humid than canopies. Animals such as monkeys live in understory ecosystems, eating fruits from trees as well as smaller animals like beetles. Forest floor ecosystems support a wide variety of flowers, which are fed on by insects like butterflies. Butterflies, in turn, provide food for animals such as spiders in forest floor ecosystems.
Human activity threatens all these rain forest ecosystems in the Amazon. Thousands of acres of land are cleared for farmland, housing, and industry. Countries of the Amazon rain forest, such as Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador, are underdeveloped. Cutting down trees to make room for crops such as soy and corn benefits many poor farmers. These resources give them a reliable source of income and food. Children may be able to attend school, and families are able to afford better health care.
However, the destruction of rain forest ecosystems has its costs. Many modern medicines have been developed from rain forest plants. Curare, a muscle relaxant, and quinine, used to treat malaria, are just two of these medicines. Many scientists worry that destroying the rain forest ecosystem may prevent more medicines from being developed.
The rain forest ecosystems also make poor farmland. Unlike the rich soils of the Great Plains, where people destroyed the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, Amazon rain forest soil is thin and has few nutrients. Only a few seasons of crops may grow before all the nutrients are absorbed. The farmer or agribusiness must move on to the next patch of land, leaving an empty ecosystem behind.
Ecosystems can recover from destruction, however. The delicate coral reef ecosystems in the South Pacific are at risk due to rising ocean temperatures and decreased salinity. Corals bleach, or lose their bright colors, in water that is too warm. They die in water that isnt salty enough. Without the reef structure, the ecosystem collapses. Organisms such as algae, plants such as seagrass, and animals such as fish, snakes, and shrimp disappear.
Most coral reef ecosystems will bounce back from collapse. As ocean temperature cools and retains more salt, the brightly colored corals return. Slowly, they build reefs. Algae, plants, and animals also return.
Individual people, cultures, and governments are working to preserve ecosystems that are important to them. The government of Ecuador, for instance, recognizes ecosystem rights in the countrys constitution. The so-called Rights of Nature says Nature or Pachamama [Earth], where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution. Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public bodies. Ecuador is home not only to rain forest ecosystems, but also river ecosystems and the remarkable ecosystems on the Galapagos Islands.
- Need to monitor Chinas role in Indian ecosystem - The Tribune India - May 15th, 2020
- Sharp and the 8K Ecosystem - Display Daily - May 15th, 2020
- Huawei Partners With Carmakers to Build 5G-Enabled Automobile Ecosystem - Caixin Global - May 15th, 2020
- Cyberbank Group Expand New Cloud-Based Digital Asset Solutions - Yahoo Finance - May 15th, 2020
- Key drivers changing the banking ecosystem landscape - FinTech Magazine - The FinTech & InsurTech Platform - May 15th, 2020
- Articles - The power of the ecosystem - Actuarial Post - May 15th, 2020
- Mobile Phone Insurance Ecosystem Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 15th, 2020
- Atari Teams Up with Arkane Network to Integrate the Atari Token Across Digital Entertainment Ecosystem - GlobeNewswire - May 15th, 2020
- How Coronavirus Is Impacting The V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) Communications Ecosystem: 2019 2030 3w Market News Reports - 3rd Watch News - May 15th, 2020
- Microsoft announces definitive agreement to acquire Metaswitch Networks, expanding approach to empower operators and partner with network equipment... - May 15th, 2020
- Privacy And Information Are The New Cloud Currency And Google Owns The Mint - Forbes - May 15th, 2020
- Impact of COVID-19 on the World's Cybersecurity Industry, Major Verticals, Regions and Key Vendors (2019-2021): Optimistic/as-is/Pessimistic Scenarios... - May 15th, 2020
- Is Ethereum 2.0 really the next big wave in the crypto-ecosystem? - AMBCrypto - May 15th, 2020
- Review of Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System - Resilience - May 11th, 2020
- Analysis: Hellish reality of modern information ecosystem presents particular danger during pandemic - CNN - May 11th, 2020
- MOXY Is A Non-Partisan Online Ecosystem To Inform And Engage You In Politics - Android Headlines - May 11th, 2020
- Humio Joins the IBM Edge Ecosystem to Bring Real-Time Insights to Organizations Deploying Edge Computing - DevOps.com - May 11th, 2020
- Square Still Represents a Very Attractive Investment - TheStreet - May 11th, 2020
- Pakistan is one of the fastest emerging startup ecosystem in Asia, McKinsey & Co - Technology Times Pakistan - May 11th, 2020
- Revealed: Plants Molecular Alarm System That Protects Them From Predators - SciTechDaily - May 11th, 2020
- The Rise of the Modern Tech Ecosystem | Sponsored Content | Tech-Talk Webinar, On-Demand - eMarketer - April 26th, 2020
- UAE- Formula One paying teams to protect 'ecosystem' - MENAFN.COM - April 26th, 2020
- How Facebook is logging into the Reliance Jio ecosystem - Economic Times - April 26th, 2020
- Interactive Graphic: Salafi Jihadi Ecosystem In The Sahel - Critical Threats Project - April 26th, 2020
- What will it take for the micro-entrepreneurial ecosystem to survive the crisis that has been amplified by COV - YourStory - April 26th, 2020
- The federal IT service provider of Germany relies on Cloudogu EcoSystem - PR Web - April 26th, 2020
- Treehouse Village overnights available this summer at Metroparks Toledos Oak Openings Preserve - cleveland.com - April 26th, 2020
- Apple Pay outage preventing some users from paying their Apple Card bill and more - 9to5Mac - April 26th, 2020
- Why Cash App Can Drive Square's Valuation Much Higher - Seeking Alpha - April 26th, 2020
- COVID-19 has positive impact on Thailand's ecosystem - Pattaya Mail - April 26th, 2020
- Pasadenas mayor reflects on the pandemics strictures - The Pasadena Star-News - April 26th, 2020
- One in 3 death certificates were wrong before coronavirus. It's about to get even worse. - USA TODAY - April 26th, 2020
- RT-Thread RTOS Creates a New Model of the Real-Time Operating System - IT News Online - April 26th, 2020
- COVID-19 Impact on the Global Industrial Robotics Market - Expected to Grow at a CAGR of 10.4% During 2020-2025; Down by ~3% on the Pre-COVID-19... - April 26th, 2020
- The Extinction Crisis Devastating San Francisco Bay - The Nation - April 26th, 2020
- How Coronavirus Is Impacting The SDN, NFV & Network Virtualization Ecosystem: 2017 2030 - Cole of Duty - April 26th, 2020
- Education Ecosystem with Unified Technology Market Countries Analysis Report 2020 by Industry Size, Share, Growth Rate and Revenue - Latest Herald - April 26th, 2020
- Potential Impact of COVID-19 on Research Report prospects the HetNet Ecosystem Market - Jewish Life News - April 26th, 2020
- The Coming Ecosystem Collapse Is Already Here for Coral - The New Republic - April 17th, 2020
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's Ecosystems - EcoWatch - April 17th, 2020
- A new venture studio is aiming to foster the development of the Algorand ecosystem - CryptoSlate - April 17th, 2020
- Ethereum Tops DApp Ecosystem in Q1 Followed by Tron and EOS: DappRadar Report - Bitcoin Exchange Guide - April 17th, 2020
- New report reveals a growing and diverse VR/AR ecosystem in B.C., but challenges loom - BCBusiness - April 17th, 2020
- Meet the businesses collaborating for the good of the SME ecosystem | News - Speciality Food - April 17th, 2020
- Coronavirus pandemic will hit the tech startup ecosystem hard but there is hope - SiliconANGLE - April 2nd, 2020
- Hardware Threats to an IoT Ecosystem - IoT For All - April 2nd, 2020
- Mozilla to extend Coil support in the Firefox Reality ecosystem - Neowin - April 2nd, 2020
- Secure Technology Alliance Publishes White Paper on Mobile Driver's Licenses and Emerging Ecosystem - GlobeNewswire - April 2nd, 2020
- Plague is a significant source of mortality in pumas in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem - Outbreak News Today - April 2nd, 2020
- How to EcoSystem-ize Your PCs & Laptops to Reduce Carbon Footprint and Boost Productivity - News & Features - April 2nd, 2020
- In Other Waters review - PC Gamer - April 2nd, 2020
- The startup ecosystem gets its ACT together, sets up fund to help fight COVID-19 - Moneycontrol - April 2nd, 2020
- Mobile accessory brand juice creates its own global ecosystem - Packaging News - April 2nd, 2020
- Paradigm Is Biggest Winner of MakerDAO Lending Systems MKR Governance Tokens, to Cover $4.5 Million of Undercollaterized Debt - Crowdfund Insider - April 2nd, 2020
- CSP Cloud-native Technology Adoption & K8s Ecosystem Report 2020 - CSPs' 5G Success Will Depend on Having a Low-Cost, Fast-to-Deploy and Scalable... - April 2nd, 2020
- AUSABLE WATER WISE: Ecosystem engineers of the river channel | News, Sports, Jobs - Lake Placid News - April 2nd, 2020
- Rebooting The Global Economy After Coronavirus: Physical Scarcity To Digital Abundance - Forbes - April 2nd, 2020
- Bitcoin (BTC) Ecosystem Healthier than 2014 and BitMEX Research Explains Why - U.Today - April 2nd, 2020
- CDFW Awards $37 Million for Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration, Protection and Scientific Study Projects - CDFW News - March 26th, 2020
- Here's how healthcare can build effective ecosystem for innovation, entrepreneurship - India Today - March 26th, 2020
- Neo Foundation unlocks 1.66 million NEO to fund development of ecosystem - NEO News Today - March 26th, 2020
- Sony expands its Smart Agriculture Solution ecosystem - Successful Farming - March 26th, 2020
- Madrid: A city turning eco-fictions into eco-futures through systems innovation - Daily Planet` - March 26th, 2020
- Pablo Escobar's Cocaine Hippos Are Filling Ecosystem Roles in Colombia That Have Been Vacant for Thousands of - Gizmodo - March 26th, 2020
- On The Bench Moves Swiftly to Support the HubSpot Business Ecosystem Putting its Commercial Activity on Hold in the Wake of Coronavirus Disruption -... - March 26th, 2020
- Certain Individual Fish Contribute Far More to Ecosystem Health than Others, Research Shows - Earth Island Journal - March 26th, 2020
- Investing in the Airport Ecosystem: Prospects and Risks - JD Supra - March 26th, 2020
- Breaking Down The Disinformation Ecosystem Around Coronavirus - Newsy - March 26th, 2020
- Duff & Phelps analyses impact of Covid-19 on the value of IPL ecosystem - Best Media Info - March 26th, 2020
- Jack Liu on how Bitcoin SV is changing the payments ecosystem - CoinGeek - March 26th, 2020
- Deepwater Horizon and the Rise of the Omics - Eos - March 26th, 2020
- Tracking app to thermal camera, Indian startup ecosystem is coming together to fight Covid 19 - Economic Times - March 26th, 2020
- Initiative to foster growth of Bangladeshs impact ecosystem launched - The Financial Express BD - March 21st, 2020
- HTC Conducts Its First Virtual "VIVE Ecosystem Conference" (VEC) fully in VR Allowing Global Attendees to Join Virtual Sessions - PRNewswire - March 21st, 2020
- Heres A Look Inside HTCs In-VR Vive Conference, Running This Week - UploadVR - March 21st, 2020
- Navigating the sustainability ecosystem - Recycling Today - March 21st, 2020
- [Startup Bharat] CrAdLE is mentoring entrepreneurs to grow the ecosystem in Gujarat - YourStory - March 21st, 2020
- UTEP partners with City Accelerator to provide insights on El Paso Minority Business Ecosystem - El Paso Herald-Post - March 21st, 2020
- Singapore Emerges as the "Food Tech Ecosystem" of Asia - vegconomist - the vegan business magazine - March 21st, 2020
- IPL cancellation may lead to ecosystem value reducing by $700 mn to $1 bn: Duff & Phelps - TelevisionPost - March 21st, 2020