Discovering and understanding the functioning of the planet’s ecosystems is one of the most difficult and at the same time surprising tasks that human beings have carried out during practically the entire history of our evolution. Through observations, scientific analyzes linked to physiology, chemistry, physics and biology, as well as through global ecological studies, it has been possible to know in detail the composition and functioning of ecosystems. In these complex systems of communications networks and flows of matter and energy, life develops, so knowing and conserving them will be of vital importance to ensure life on Earth as we know it.
If you want to get to know the surprising world of ecology up close, continue reading this AgroCorrn article in which you will learn how an ecosystem works .
- What is an ecosystem
- How an ecosystem works – relationships, flows, succession and equilibrium
- Components of an ecosystem
- How an ecosystem works: balance and imbalance
What is an ecosystem
Ecosystems are defined as biological systems in which we include all the interactions and relationships that exist between living beings and the habitat or environment in which they live. It was the ecologist Roy Clapham who, in 1930, defined the concept of ecosystem, with the aim of being able to better define those interactions that exist naturally and spontaneously between the communities of living beings and the different habitats of the planet.
Thus, it is possible to differentiate a great variety of ecosystems, according to the type of habitat and the biotic factors and the abiotic factors that constitute them, so that both in terrestrial, aquatic and mixed environments, it is possible to differentiate natural ecosystems full of life. Learn more about this topic with these other articles on What is an ecosystem and Natural ecosystem: what is it, characteristics and examples .
To continue expanding the information related to ecosystems and their functioning, in the next sections we will see in detail how an ecosystem works exactly and what are the main components that make it up.
How an ecosystem works – relationships, flows, succession and equilibrium
To understand how an ecosystem works, it is necessary to attend to what type of ecological relationships exist in them and what are the components that constitute it.
To first understand how are ecological relationships that occur within ecosystems, it is important to highlight the role played by biological communities of living beings (or biocenosis of the ecosystem ), which interact with each other in order to ensure their reproduction, survival and evolution, within the given environment (or biotope ) in which they live.
How an ecosystem works: relationships and balance
In this way, ecosystems function as a complex system of networks in which such interspecific relationships (between individuals of the same species) and intraspecific relationships (between individuals of different species and communities) determine the evolution and balance of the ecosystem. like an everything.
To understand more about the relationships in ecosystems, we recommend that, apart from reading the specific articles on interspecific and intraspecific relationships , you also take a look at this other post on the trophic relationships of ecosystems: definition and examples .
How an ecosystem works: flows and succession
The multiple relationships of organisms, as well as the constant flows of matter and energy are creating an ecological succession in the communities of living beings, as well as the development of different components of the ecosystem and the maintenance of an optimal balance of the same, as long as there are no external disturbances that alter it. Biodiversity and the apparent chaos of energy and matter that characterizes ecosystems actually follow a whole series of laws of nature of great complexity and amazing precision.
Expand the concept of Ecological Succession: definition, stages and examples with this other post from Green Ecology.
Components of an ecosystem
Now that we know more about what an ecosystem is and how it works in general, let’s see in more detail what are the main components of an ecosystem mentioned above. Within any ecosystem it is possible to differentiate a series of structural components, as well as functional components.
The structural components of an ecosystem
They are represented by those abiotic components (elements without life, of a physical and chemical nature) and by biotic components (living beings). The soil, climate, temperature, humidity, latitude, altitude, sunlight and wind are some of the most representative abiotic components, which together constitute the habitat or natural space in which living beings are found.
Instead, the biodiversity of flora, fauna and microorganisms would be part of the biotic components or living beings of the ecosystem. To better study their characteristics and behaviors, it is possible to group them into populations and communities, being possible to characterize communities of specific living beings for an ecosystem, which do not appear in a different ecosystem.
The functional components of an ecosystem
These are represented by the flows of energy and matter , which can be differentiated into different cycles, such as complex nutrient cycles, the water cycle and the carbon cycle, as well as food chains and food webs .
Both types of main components (structural and functional) are those that allow and maintain the interrelationships between living beings and their environment or environment in which they live.
How an ecosystem works: balance and imbalance
Now that we have seen how an ecosystem works, we can better understand the concept of an ecosystem in equilibrium or that of ecological equilibrium.
When it is said that there is ecological equilibrium or that an ecosystem is in equilibrium, we mean that this part of the planet manages to maintain the laws of nature in an optimal way, which implies that there is an adequate balance between the different components of the ecosystem (structural and functional). Therefore, in an ecosystem in equilibrium, the abiotic elements, the biotic elements, the flows of matter and energy, etc., are all in harmony, allowing the whole or the biological system to function correctly for all the elements , all of which benefit in their set.
On the other hand, when there is an element that goes beyond natural measures, there is an ecological imbalance or an imbalance in the ecosystem. For example, if a species disappears, if an area is destroyed, if a polluting element enters, etc., in this way, the balance of the ecosystem is broken.
We recommend that, if you want to find out more about how an ecosystem works, you also read these other Green Ecology articles on What is ecological balance , Ecosystem in balance: what it is and how it is maintained and Ecological imbalance: what it is, causes, consequences and examples .
If you want to read more articles similar to How an ecosystem works , we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category .
Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.