The Living World
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An Overview of Ecosystems

What is an Ecosystem?

An ecosystem is a natural environment that includes both flora and fauna. The flora and fauna live in the environment, interact with each other and interact with the bacteria present in the ecosystem. These are all considered the biotic or living components of the ecosystem.

However, there are also abiotic or non-living components. The abiotic components of an ecosystem are what keep the ecosystem functioning, such as climate, soil and water.

The biotic elements of an ecosystem have a relationship with the abiotic elements and changing one will lead to a change in the other. Ecosystems are delicate balancing acts that require maintenance and careful management to avoid damaging them beyond repair.

To find out more about the relationship between abiotic and biotic components click here.

Ecosystems are not one size; they can be small or very large environments, varying from a family’s garden to the Amazon rainforest.

To find out more about the scale of ecosystems, click here.

Ecosystems also come in different forms or types and fall into two categories: terrestrial and aquatic. Terrestrial means it is found on the land, while aquatic ecosystems are found in bodies of water.

For further categorisation, ecosystems are divided into biomes – each biome has different levels of biodiversity and climatic conditions. Also, each biome has its own defining characteristics.

Ecosystems are necessary features of our planet. All living organisms, including flora and fauna, find their home within an ecosystem and the byproducts of fully functioning biomes benefit the whole planet.. For example, they produce oxygen and store carbon.

It is our responsibility to look after our ecosystems and protect them from natural disasters, as well as man-made destruction.

Key Terms

FloraThe collective plant life that is found in a particular region, habitat or time period
FaunaThe animal life in a particular region, habitat or time period
BacteriaMicroorganisms that usually have one cell (unicellular). Some can cause illness or disease and they are present in all habitats across the planet
BiodiversityThe variety of animal and plant life in a given area
BiomesGroups of ecosystems around the world with certain characteristics

Ecosystems Revision Guide

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