Ecology And Environment

What Makes an Ecosystem



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"What Makes an Ecosystem"
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Components of an Ecosystem-
An ecosystem is made up of living and non living things. The living things in an ecosystem are referred to as the biotic factors whereas the nonliving things are the abiotic factors. The abiotic factors include the sun, air, soil, water, and nutrients. Anything that you might consider as the environment can usually be categorized as an abiotic factor. The abiotic factors are important because they influence what kind of life can exist within a particular area. For instance, you wouldn't expect to find the same fish or plants in a lake as in the ocean. Fish that survive well in the ocean's saltwater are not well suited to the fresh water of a lake. Similarly, you would see different trees in a forest in Eastern Canada than in a forest in South America. The nutrients, sunlight, rainfall in each forest play a role determining what kinds of trees can grow. The many different abiotic factors limit the types of plants and animals that can survive in an ecosystem.
The biotic factors are any plant, animal, or microorganism that live in the ecosystem. There are potentially thousands of different living things in any given ecosystem. However, the biotic factors in an ecosystem can be classified into two main groups, producers and consumers. Producers, or autotrophs ("auto" means own, and "trough" means food), are named so because they produce their own food. Most producers are green plants. Green plants make their own food by capturing the energy from the sun and converting it into sugar by a process called photosynthesis.
All other organisms are consumers or heterotrophs ("hetero" means other). Consumers must eat other organisms to obtain energy. Based on what they eat, consumers can be classified into several different categories:
- Herbivores are the vegetarians of the natural world; these animals eat plants
only. Rabbits, elephants, caterpillars, and whales are examples of herbivores.
- Carnivores are meat eaters and feed exclusively on other animals. Eagles,lions,
and some species of sharks are carnivores.
- Omnivores have a different diet of both plants and animals. Some examples of
omnivores are bears, foxes, and pigs.
- Scavengers feed on larger dead organisms. When you see flies on a dead animal,
this is an example of a scavenger getting its food. Hyenas and vultures are
other examples of scavengers.
- Detritivores feed on smaller dead organisms and waste. Earthworms, crabs, and
beetles are detritivores.
- Decomposers are a type of detritivore that break down any remaining dead
organisms or waste, releasing nutrients back into the system. These recyclers
of the ecosystem include bacteria and fungi.

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