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What is the definition of "ecosystem"?

A:

Quick Answer

The definition of ecosystem is a system that is formed by a community of organisms interacting with their environment. Both living and nonliving things within a particular area make up the ecosystem.

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In nature, ecosystems can range in size from small ponds or a tree to larger areas like a desert. Everything in that area, from water and soil to animals and plants, make up an ecosystem. Even climate, light and air play important roles. If there is not enough light or the right nutrients in the soil to support plant life, the plants can die. This can cause a chain reaction that kills animals and destroys the ecosystem.

Natural disasters, changes in climate and human interactions can cause problems in an ecosystem. Because of this, healthy ecosystems are home to many different species. This helps protect the ecosystem from significant damage in the event something bad happens.

Ecosystems are formed of producers, consumers and decomposers. Producers, like green plants, make their own food. This allows animals to eat the plants to get their energy and other animals to get energy from eating other consumers. Decomposers are the plants and animals that help break down other plants and animals when they die. This helps to put nutrients into the soil that help future generations of plants to grow and start the cycle over.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the ecological significance of interdependence?

    A:

    Interdependence is a significant relationship among species in an ecosystem that helps to prevent overpopulation of particular species to ensure the survival of each species as a whole. The interdependent relationship among species in an ecosystem implies that each species' existence depends upon other species' existence. For example, a carnivore depends on the existence of herbivore prey in order to survive, herbivores depend on plant life for survival and plant life depends on microorganisms within the soil to thrive.

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  • Q:

    What is a natural ecosystem?

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    A natural ecosystem is an ecosystem that occurs as it would without the influence of human beings. The term “ecosystem” refers to all of the plants, animals, fungi, protozoans, bacteria and other organisms that live in the same area. All of these distinct species share highly interconnected lives and, in many ways, function as one unit.

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  • Q:

    What are some major dynamic processes that can take place in ecosystems?

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    Some of the dynamic processes that can occur within an ecosystem are flooding, temperature changes, vegetation growth, invasions by non-native species and human intervention. In riparian ecosystems, such as floodplains, the role of human intervention can be significant as man-made structures such as levees, dikes and dams alter the course of water flows and flood pulses. Hydrologic alterations are an example of how changes made to an ecosystem carry the potential to disrupt critical nutrient cycling, change seed dispersal patterns and hamper the establishment and growth of vital plant communities.

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  • Q:

    What are the nonliving parts of an ecosystem called?

    A:

    Nonliving parts of an ecosystem are called abiotic components or abiotic factors. These include parts of the ecosystem that are non-living but still affect it. Examples include water, soil, air, temperature and sunlight.

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