To facilitate the study of our planet Earth, we usually divide it into layers. One of these layers is where life develops and we call it the biosphere. This layer, in turn, is subdivided into other layers that we know as sublayers and each one has its name.
If you want to know everything about this vital layer of our planet, then keep reading because in this AgroCorrn article we will see, with simple definitions and images, what the biosphere is, its layers and its characteristics .
What is the biosphere – definition
Biosphere, also known as field of life , is the zone where the Earth life thrives and containing the materials move and move in cycles, always driven by the energy of the sun . The biosphere is the layer of the earth’s crust that occupies a greater surface area and in which water, air and soil interact with each other with the help of energy from the Sun. In other words, the biosphere comprises the part of the geosphere composed of living organisms that interact with each other and with their environment. Therefore, the biosphere is the layer that surrounds the terrestrial globe and that includes air, water (fresh and salt) and soil.
As we have already indicated, the primary source of energy that makes possible the dynamic functioning of the ecosystems that develop in the biosphere is the Sun. This solar energy is absorbed by algae and plants and transformed into chemical energy during the photosynthesis process and stored in the form of glucose and starch, which are subsequently consumed by animals and metabolized for energy. This energy is used by animals in their biological processes.
In addition, the biosphere is a layer that has remained stable for millions of years, and this has allowed it to give way to the evolution of life forms , as we know them today. However, since the biosphere is made up of biological populations and their physical environment, any transformative effects will reverberate on both.
Characteristics of the biosphere
Some of the main characteristics of the biosphere are:
- It encompasses everything that is alive or has been alive. Therefore, if something has life, it is part of the biosphere.
- The biosphere is as old as the first living organism and is estimated to be about 3.5 billion years old.
- It is estimated that this layer extends from 10 km above sea level, up to 10 km below the ground and 7 km below the ocean depths.
- Only life within the biosphere is known.
- Solar energy is your primary source of energy.
- The life of the biosphere is interrelated. Thus, if an area is damaged, every living being is being affected.
- The microorganisms are in charge of breaking down matter so that it can be used by higher organisms.
- The products and wastes of certain animals and plants are used by others for their food.
Layers of the biosphere
The biosphere is subdivided, in turn, into the different layers of the Earth where life exists . The layers of the biosphere are:
The lithosphere comprises the terrestrial zone of the biosphere. This area provides the sustenance and minerals necessary to sustain life. Bacteria even large mammals live in this layer.
In this other post from AgroCorrn we tell you what the lithosphere is with a simple definition .
This is the aquatic part of the biosphere. Unlike others, all its portions are compatible with life. Almost all taxonomic groups of plants and animals inhabit the aquatic environment
This layer extends up to 2,000 meters above the earth’s surface. Birds and other forms of life inhabit it. The atmosphere also plays a very important role in the configuration of the biosphere, since its lower regions contain the essential gases for the respiration of plants and animals, it deflects solar radiation and establishes the climatic patterns.
Here you can learn more about the Atmosphere and its layers .
Levels of the biosphere – its components
The different levels or components of the biosphere are:
- Biomes: they are the great ecological areas with their flora and fauna. They are defined by abiotic factors such as climate, geology, vegetation, soils or relief. It can host various ecosystems.
- Ecosystem: includes all living things that inhabit a given area and interact with each other and with non-living elements. Find out more about What is an ecosystem here.
- Community: group or association of populations that inhabit a geographical area in a given period. Learn more with this other post by AgroCorrn about Ecological Community: definition and characteristics .
- Population: group of individuals of the same species that inhabit a geographic area in a given period of time.
- Organism – An individual life form, such as an animal, bacterium, or plant.
Actually, any place where life develops is an example of a biosphere . Thus we have the continents, reefs, oceans or even the garden of a house.
Thus, to give a simple example of a part of the Earth’s biosphere, in an ocean we have a perfectly organized biosphere where trophic interactions are established that allow and maintain life and its evolution over time.
Biosphere: function and importance
The function of the biosphere is to provide a favorable environment for all species of terrestrial life and is important because:
- Provides organic matter.
- It allows life on Earth.
- Clean the environment of toxins.
- Provides raw material and food.
- It allows to form food chains.
- Provides pharmaceutical compounds.
- It can be used to investigate contamination.
Degradation of the biosphere
The land, sea or air are often compromised when human beings deplete or pollute their resources , releasing chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Thus, activities such as waste of resources, pollution or deforestation contribute to degrading the biosphere or, in other words , deteriorating the environment .
Here we explain more about this topic, as we give a simple definition of environmental deterioration, its causes and characteristics .
What are Biosphere Reserves
The Biosphere Reserves entities seeking solutions for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of coastal areas and terrestrial ecosystems. These entities are internationally recognized and under the control of the states to which they belong. Until 2016, there were about 670 biosphere reserves spread over 120 countries.