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What is an ecosystem: definition for children

Planet Earth is very special, because thanks to its environmental conditions, such as the climate or the presence of oxygen (O2) in our atmosphere, we can live in an impressively diverse environment and with many different species of organisms. The fact that there are beings with such different characteristics throughout our planet is due to the fact that they have been adapting and evolving throughout these thousands of years, in the face of factors such as changes in temperatures, rainfall or the availability of food that they had the places where they lived.

That is why, in order to have a better understanding of how the ecological relationships between living organisms and their environment really work, man created a concept called an ecosystem. In this way, environments such as forests, meadows, deserts, rivers, seas and lakes, are easier to study and it is easier to understand how they work. Thus, these ecosystems are defined as a natural environment formed by living beings, the environment in which they inhabit, and the relationships that exist between them. As we firmly believe that it is vital to educate the little ones about aspects of the environment and the planet in general, this AgroCorrn article will explain in more detail what ecosystems are with definition for children., what types are there, how are their organisms classified and what we must do to protect and maintain them.

  1. What is an ecosystem and how does it work – explanation for children
  2. What types of ecosystem are there
  3. How organisms in an ecosystem are classified

What is an ecosystem and how does it work – explanation for children

The concept of ecosystem is really important to understand the functioning of our natural environment. The definition of ecosystem for children , explained very simply, is that it is a place in nature formed by a specific or specific space and the beings that inhabit it. It could therefore be said that these systems are made up of two main elements, living organisms ( biotic beings or factors ) and physical space ( abiotic elements or factors).). The first are all those living beings that inhabit an environment, whether they are microorganisms, plants, fish, birds or any animal, such as us, humans. The latter constitute the physical environment, which is made up of components such as energy, heat, light, air, minerals, the availability of water and soils. These abiotic factors, despite not having life by themselves, are those that condition the life of biotic organisms, in addition to causing them to develop with characteristics in accordance with the environment in which they are. Obviously, each ecosystem has its characteristics, its climate, humidity, availability of water and food, etc. and the organisms that live there live according to them.

It should be mentioned that ecosystems can have a great variety of sizes and are present all around us, from a temporary pool produced by rain, to the Amazon Rainforest of South America or the great Sahara desert.

We recommend that you also read this other article about How an ecosystem works to learn more details. Here is a simple definition for children about the main types of ecosystems : terrestrial, aquatic and mixed.

What types of ecosystem are there

After explaining what an ecosystem is in summary and in a simple way, we will see that these are the main types of natural ecosystems :

Terrestrial ecosystems

They are those in which living beings that live in the ground and subsoil. Many of them are places that we know or have seen many times, such as forests, jungles, deserts, grasslands, tundra or savanna. The organisms that inhabit them have developed very varied physical peculiarities among themselves, since there are a large number of factors that condition them more or less depending on their location.

The terrestrial ecosystems are distributed throughout the world, obviously on land or close to it, and encompass a wide variety of species. Although it is one of the most biologically diverse habitats, it depends on many elements, mainly the availability of water and light, the climate, and the altitude and latitude.

Aquatic ecosystems

The aquatic ecosystems are those places where the living components are active in the water, either salt and freshwater seas and oceans or as in rivers and lakes.

As the organisms that have developed in this type of system are in permanent contact with water, their physical peculiarities are not as varied as in terrestrial ecosystems, but rather they share many characteristics adapted to the aqueous environment.

These types of ecosystem are present in a large part of our planet, since water covers around 70% of the earth’s surface. These types of habitats are richer than we think, since, even if light, oxygen or other parameters are more limited, they are nothing more than factors that produce an adaptation and at the same time diversification of a large number of species.

Mixed ecosystems

They are places where living beings live in intermediate areas and have characteristics from the two types of ecosystems explained above. A good example is the coasts and wetlands.

They are usually considered as a transition zone, that is, it is not permanent. The species that live there can use, for example, as a place to lay their eggs or to reproduce. Learn more about What is a mixed ecosystem in this other AgroCorrn article.

Here you can learn more about the Types of ecosystems , in the images below you can see some examples in the same order (terrestrial, aquatic and mixed) and a video on this topic to discover more.

How organisms in an ecosystem are classified

In an ecosystem there are a large number of organisms with many different functions . They establish relationships between them at different levels, either between beings of the same species or between several (below you can see an image of the energy flow in ecosystems or, what is the same, the trophic pyramid, which relates to living beings according to diet, life cycles and other factors to take into account in the development of ecosystems). That is why the individuals that live in these ecosystems can be classified into the 3 categories of organisms in the following ecosystems .


They are autotrophic organisms, that is, they are capable of generating their own food from simple substances with the help of sunlight. They are the basis of the food chain.

The producers in terrestrial systems is vegetation, that is, plants, and in aquatic systems are algae and some types of bacteria such as cyanobacteria. Here you can learn more about Producer Organisms: what they are and examples .


They are heterotrophic organisms, which means that they do not have the ability to make their own food, so they feed on other beings. They can be classified into:

  • Primary consumers or herbivores : their diet is based on producing organisms. Examples: grasshoppers, cows, rabbits, horses, etc. Here we tell you more about Primary Consumers .
  • Secondary consumers or carnivores : their food is based on herbivorous beings. Examples: cats, owls, frogs, etc. In this other post you will see information about secondary consumers .
  • Tertiary and quaternary consumers or supercarnivores : they feed on herbivorous and carnivorous organisms and have hardly any predators. Examples: sharks, eagles, seals, hyenas, etc. In these links you will be able to learn more about Tertiary Consumers and about Quaternary Consumers .


These are organisms that feed on decomposing organic matter from other living things, such as dry leaves, animal carcasses, dead tree trunks, or excrement. Some examples of decomposing organisms are fungi and bacteria.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is an ecosystem: definition for children , 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.

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