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What is an Ecosystem? Ecosystem Structure, Type and Stability

What is an ecosystem?

No organism can survive in isolation. In order to survive, every living thing has to depend on other living things and various elements of its environment.

That is why nature has divided and distributed every element of the environment in a beautiful and proper place so that different organisms in the same environment can build a life with them and with the help of different elements of the environment.


Ecosystem (Source Wikimedia Commons)

When we look at the environment around us, we see two kinds of objects here.


1. Biotic components

2. Abiotic components

The close relationship between these two types of components of the environment is simply the ecosystem.

That is to say, the ecosystem is the way in which the living organisms of an environment interact with each other and with different elements of the environment.

In detail, "An ecosystem is a natural unit of organic, inorganic matter and various organisms in a particular region Where different organisms form a way of life by interacting with each other and with the organic and inorganic elements around them”.

The term "Ecosystem" was first coined in 1935 by the British environmentalist Arthur Tansley.

Components of the ecosystem

Ecosystems are basically made up of two Components. These two components form the ecosystem through the exchange of energy with each other.

Components of the ecosystem

                                                 Components of the ecosystem

01. Abiotic Components:

Those who do not have life are abiotic Components. The abiotic components of the environment have no life but directly or indirectly play a role in life. When we classify abiotic components we find three types of elements in an environment.

i. Inorganic Element:

Various gaseous elements and chemical elements are Inorganic Elements.  Such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, calcium, sulfur, phosphorus, amino acids, humic acid.

ii. Organic matter:

We can simply call organic matter humorous. Organic matter is dead plants and animals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc. These form the initial chain of energy flow between abiotic and biotic elements in the form of biochemical structures.

iii. Physical Element:

Physical elements are the elements related to the climate, topography, and soil of a region.

  • Climate:

We know that the average weather of a place for more than 30 years (wind, heat, rainfall, etc) is called climate. So the elements of climate are light, heat, rainfall, and humidity.

  • Geo-nature

Geo-nature is the nature of a particular area of ​​land and its natural objects, structural elements, layout, changes, etc. Such as the direction of the mountains and valleys of the region, the slope or steep condition, plateau, continental shelf, lake, etc.

  • Soil related Element:

The soil composition of a region, soil chemical composition, soil quality, etc.

2. Biotic Components:

The living elements of an environment are biotic components. Simply, those who have lives that's are biotic components. Such as human, animal, bird, plant, microorganism, etc. Living Organisms are further divided into three groups based on their functional position.

A. Producer:

The producer is called autotrophs. (In Greek, autos = self, trophy = nutrition). All those components of an environment that are not dependent on any other element for food are called producers, meaning they are self-sufficient. All green plants and blue-green algae act as food producers in the ecosystem. They convert sunlight and chemical energy into bioenergy. Such as- small and microscopic phytoplankton or plant particles, algae green plants, etc. All kinds of animals depend on this producer indirectly or directly for food.

B. Consumers

Consumers are called heterotrophs. (In Greek, heteros = other, trophy = nutrition). All these elements of the ecosystem are indirectly or directly dependent on the producer for survival. Simply those who cannot make their own food are the consumers  Basically, all types of animals belong to the consumer's category.

Consumers can be divided into three categories based on food habits and location in each environment.

A. Primary or first-level consumers

All herbivores that take food directly from the producer are called primary or first level consumers. Such as grasshoppers, chickens, cows, goats, deer, elephants, etc.

B. Secondary or second-level consumers

All types of carnivores depend on primary consumers for food. Such as frogs, foxes, tigers, etc.

C. Tertiary or third level consumers

Tertiary or tertiary consumers are those who depend on primary and secondary consumers for food. They are also carnivores. Such as- humans, tigers, peacocks, etc.

Subtraction or Decomposer:

Separators are called saprophytes (in Greek, sapros = rotten ). Separators are those who survive by eating the dead cells of living matter. They decompose the dead cell tissue of living matter, absorb some of it by themselves, and break down the complex compounds of the rest into simple organic compounds and return them to the environment, called dissociation.

Structure of the ecosystem:

Structure of an Ecosystem
Structure of an Ecosystem 

An ecosystem is a functional unit of life where all living things in a region and all the other elements of their environment interact together to form a stable structure. In an Ecosystem, the producer produces their own food with the help of sunlight and other soil elements. The producer is again eaten by the consumers and the dead part of the eater is returned to the soil by the nutrients. In this way, an ecosystem remains stable. And all the elements of the environment play a role in keeping the ecosystem stable.

If we look at the ecosystem of the garden, we will see. In a garden, we will see different plants, animals such as bees, butterflies, earthworms, frogs, and birds. They depend on each other and at the same time on abiotic elements like soil, air, water.

For example, earthworms get nutrients from the soil and they help keep the soil fertile. This fertility of the soil helps in the growth of grass and trees. Birds, bees, and butterflies get food from garden plants. Again they help to keep the ecosystem stable by helping pollinate the trees. Certain types of bacteria that live in the soil feed on dead parts of birds or plants and replenish nutrients in the soil

How the ecosystem stays stable

Structure of an Ecosystem and Stability

An ecosystem is a stable state consisting of all the elements of an environment. Therefore, the role of all the elements is important to keep the ecosystem stable. If there is a shortage of any material for any reason, it affects the entire ecosystem.

The thing can be explained with the help of an example.

The tiger is the highest consumer of a forest ecosystem. If for some reason the number of tigers decreases then the number of secondary eater deer will increase. If the number of deer increases, the number of producers will decrease. So it turns out that the loss of any one element of the environment affects the entire ecosystem.

An ecosystem is build-up of all the elements of an environment and is in a stable state. And the stability of the ecosystem is essential for maintaining the balance of the environment.

As an example of an ecosystem, we will explain The ecosystem of a pond here.

A pond ecosystem

Like others, a pond ecosystem has two elements.

01. Abiotic Components 

In a pond ecosystem, Abiotic components are composed of organic and inorganic elements. Oxygen dissolved in water, carbon dioxide, humerus, phosphorus, sunlight, water temperature, air pressure, airflow, water depth, dead organic, etc. Sunlight is the main source of energy for a pond's ecosystem. etc.

03. Biotic Components

Biotic elements can be divided into three main parts.

 A) Producer:

The main producers of the pond ecosystem are algae, floating aquatic plants, Azolla, Hydrala, Nymphaea, Jussiaea, etc. These plants convert sunlight into chemical energy in the process of photosynthesis and take it in the form of food. This chemical energy stored in the form of food is carried throughout the organism and the oxygen produced in photosynthesis is used for the survival of all living things.

B) Consumers

Depending on the location of the food chain and the diet, the presence of three types of consumers can be seen in the ecosystem of the pond.

Primary consumers

They feed directly on the producer. The primary eater of a pond is the tadpole larvae of other aquatic animals that feed on green plants and algae. Also mosquito larvae, zooplankton, small fish that cannot make their own food use the producer directly as food.

Secondary consumers

The secondary consumers of a pond are those who take the primary consumers as food. Such as frogs, big fish, water snakes, crabs are secondary customers.

Tertiary or the highest consumers

Being the tertiary or the highest eater who uses secondary consumers as food. Such as- helicopter catfish, big snake, osprey, etc.


C) Decomposer

When an aquatic plant or animal dies, large numbers of bacteria and fungi attack their carcasses and convert complex organic matter into simple inorganic compounds. Some of these inorganic substances they take as a food and the rest return to the soil as organic matter. This organic material or humerus is again used by green plants for making food.

Types of Ecosystems:

Different regions of the world are different. Somewhere the blue sea and somewhere the desert. Where there are beautiful hills and where there is vast grassland. As a result, different ecosystems have developed in different parts of the world due to environmental differences. When we go to describe the ecosystem of a particular region, we see many types of ecosystems, big and small, but when we go to explain the ecosystem of the whole world, we see four types of ecosystems.

What are the four types of ecosystems?

The ecosystem is divided into four types based on the geographical conditions of the whole world.

01. Terrestrial ecosystem
02. Freshwater ecosystem
03. Marine ecosystems
04. Artificial ecosystem

The first three are naturally formed and the fourth is man-made. Ecosystems can be of different sizes. The largest ecosystem is the seawater ecosystem and the smallest ecosystem is the aquarium ecosystem.

01. Terrestrial  ecosystem:

One-fourth of the earth are land. And the ecosystem that has developed in this land is the land ecosystem. Again, the size, shape, temperature, and geographical location of all the landmasses of the world are not the same. The ecosystems of different regions of the world are also different. The ecosystem of the land can be divided into three parts considering all aspects.

i.   Grassland
ii.  Desert
iii. Forest
iv. Tundra

02. Freshwater ecosystem

The freshwater ecosystem can be further divided into two parts.

  • Lentic ecosystem:  For example ponds, lakes, heart ecosystems
  • lotic Ecosystem:  For example, the river water ecosystem.

03. Marine or  Oceanic Ecosystem

Three-quarters of the earth is occupied by different types of seas and oceans. Whose water is salty. And so this saltwater marine ecosystem is the largest ecosystem in the world.

04. Artificial ecosystem

Man-made ecosystems are called artificial ecosystems. Humans' activity form and control such ecosystems for their own needs. Such as- the ecosystem of the paddy field, the ecosystem of an aquarium, the ecosystem of a garden, or park.

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