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Difference between biosphere, ecosphere and ecosystem

The terms biosphere, ecosphere and ecosystem refer to very similar concepts related to the environment. They are often confused, but the truth is that there are big differences between the three. In fact, they are closely related, but if we want to learn and know well what we are talking about when we refer to these terms in ecology or environmental issues, it is necessary to consult the definitions of each one and learn what they refer to in these areas.

To know the difference between biosphere, ecosphere and ecosystem , read the following AgroCorrn article.

You may also be interested in: Difference between climate and weather

What is the biosphere: definition and characteristics

The term biosphere was coined by the English geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914) and by the physicist Vladimir l. Vernadsky (1863-1945). It refers to one of the four layers of the planet (biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere).

In this layer, the biosphere, is where life lives and develops (from the Greek bios = life and sphaira = sphere). It is a very variable layer, since it encompasses the heights reached by some birds and the great sea depths of the Earth. Although, these examples are extreme and the layer of the Earth that is inhabited is somewhat narrower, since the level of oxygen and the temperature in the highest layers of the atmosphere is low and in the greater sea depths it is also low.

Except in the biosphere , until now, no life has been found in any other region of the Universe. The life in the biosphere of the Sun , directly or indirectly. Its energy is captured in the form of light by plants, protists or some bacteria, through the phenomenon of photosynthesis. Through this energy, photosynthetic organisms manage to transform CO2 into organic compounds such as sugars and expel O2. Other organisms depend on this photosynthesis process that we do not carry out and that we need O2, in addition to needing sunlight for other functions.

At the end of the 70s, ecosystems were found that were relatively independent from the Sun. They were the deep areas of the ocean where the water came out at extreme temperatures (approximately 400ºC) that was heated by the magma under the earth’s crust. Chemosynthetic bacteria develop around these hydrothermal vents, transforming sulfur compounds, which are then used as food by a large number of animal species, such as small crustaceans.

Ecosphere: definition and characteristics

Called ecosphere to the global ecosystem of the planet and includes living organisms that form the biosphere, the relations between them and with the environment that surrounds them . It could also be called a planetary ecosystem.

But studying this huge ecosystem is too complicated, so it is divided into a smaller ecosystem that is much easier to study. However, although we divide and classify ecosystems for study, nature is a whole, in which there is a relationship between all the ecosystems that make up the Earth.

Within the ecosphere, all living things are constantly interacting with each other, both directly and indirectly, where each group of organisms fulfills a function. For example, plants are responsible for releasing oxygen into the atmosphere that will be used by other animals (including humans).

Ecosystem: what it is and its characteristics

The ecosystem comprises the set of species that inhabit a given area and their interactions and with their inert environment (or abiotic factors ) through processes such as predation, parasitism, competition or symbiosis . In addition, living organisms establish a cycle within their ecosystem, so that when they die and disintegrate, they return in the form of energy and nutrients. All species within an ecosystem depend on the flow of matter and energy that is established in the ecosystem.

The living beings in an ecosystem depend on each other and we can divide them into producers (autotrophic organisms that produce their own food) and consumers (heterotrophic organisms that consume organic matter from other organisms). Consumers include primary (feed on plants), secondary (feed on herbivorous animals) and tertiary (feed on other carnivorous animals) and decomposing organisms (feed on dead organic matter).

However, the concept of ecosystem has not remained stable, but has varied since it was coined in the 1930s by the English botanists Roy Clapham (1904-1990) and Sir Arthur Tansley (1871-1955) and was applied, in at first, at units of different spatial scales, from a piece of degraded trunk, a region, a puddle or the entire biosphere, provided that there is life, relationships between them and the physical environment.

Subsequently, it has been given a more geographical focus and transformed into formations or different types of vegetation such as a scrub, a grassland or a pine forest. However, the limits between some types of vegetation or formations are not clear, so the concept of ecotones is used to define these limits.

Main difference between biosphere, ecosphere and ecosystem

After knowing better what each of these terms is, it is much easier to see what the difference is between biosphere, ecosphere and ecosystem . We can say in a summarized way that the biosphere is the part of our planet where there is life, the ecosphere is the ecosystem of the entire planet and an ecosystem is a place where different animal and plant species coexist interacting with each other as well as with its inert environment.

Therefore, the bisofera is the place where the ecosphere is and it is made up of a large number of ecosystems that interact with each other.

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