The savanna is an example of an ecosystem. The economic principles of an ecosystem include the primary producers, which are the plants. They fix solar energy and, using carbon dioxide and water, synthesize complex food materials. Energy is necessary in order for any ecosystem to have an existence. It is essential for all life. Herbivores feed on the plants and carnivores feed on the herbivores. Decomposers feed on dead animals. Charts can be drawn up of the participants of an ecosystem in this way.
Here is an example for a food chain or food web for the savanna. The plants that are found here are trues, bushes, roots and grasses. Giraffes, elephants and eland eat the trees. The eland also eat bushes. So do steenbok and birds. Baboons and rodents eat roots and grasses are eating by a range of mammals, including zebra, as well as locusts. Baboons also eat locusts and beetles. Lions eat the eland, zebra, steenbok and gazelle. Hunting dogs have a similar diet. Other participants in the drama of the savanna are hyena, dung beetles, flies, cheetah and vultures.
The ten percent rule of food chains says that each participant in a food chain will obtain 10% of the energy available from its food. For example, herbivores obtain 10% of the energy from the herbs they eat. This is why food chains do not just keep going and going. There's not enough energy available from preying on a carnivore, like a fox.
The regions that ecologists divide the earth into are called biomes. On land, the biomes are categorised by the pattern of natural vegetation. Rainforests house some of the most complex ecosystems on the planet. Conditions have been stable here so that the ecosystems have had the opportunity to mature. The earth could be divided into ten biomes - evergreen trees and shrubs, coniferous forest, deciduous forest, temperate rain forest, monsoon forest, tropical rain forest, thorn forest, grassland and savanna, arid scrub and desert, and alpine tundra and ice.
There is an energy balance to the ecosystem community so that the decimation of one or more species can totally change the ecosystem. A simple ecosystem consisting of lichens, mosses and weed species may start up in a newly changed environment. Their function is to add humus and nutrients to the soil, provide shelter from the sun and wind and increase hospitality of the area. Hardier organisms will survive in the area at first, and then gradually more organisms will move into the area. As the ecosystem matures, the mix of species may change as the early colonisers die out.