Ecosystem is the environment where biotic/ living things live and interact with nonliving things/abiotic factors such as coral reef, forest, grassland, farm etc. In 1935, the word “ecosystem” was invented by a British ecologist Sir Arthur George Tansley, who depicted natural system in “constant interchange” among their biotic and abiotic parts.
- Biotic parts such as plants, animals and bacteria etc.
- Abiotic parts such as the soil, air, water etc.
Ecology is a branch of science that was developed by scientist to make the study easier about the relationship between biotic things and their physical environment which is the abiotic factors – and ecosystem is part of the concept of ecology in an organized view of nature.
Biosphere is the earth’s zone of air, water and soil that has the capability in supporting life. This zone reaches about 10 km into the atmosphere and down to the lowest ocean floor. In simpler term, the biosphere is the surface of the hierarchy on earth where living environment and organism thrive. It contains various categories of biotic communities known as biomes that is described by their overbearing vegetation such as deserts, tropical rainforest and grasslands. The biomes are in turn composed of various ecosystems.
Ecosystem has processes which sustain ecological balance:
- The cyclic flow of materials from abiotic environment to the biosphere and then back to the abiotic environment.
- Upholding the equilibrium of interaction inside food webs.
These processes must be maintained in the ecosystem; any interference with these cycles disrupts and affects ecological balance. Below are some of the reasons and causes of ecological imbalance in the living world.
Ecology is the science of the study of ecosystems. Ecological balance has been defined by various online dictionaries as "a state of dynamic equilibrium within a community of organisms in which genetic, species and ecosystem diversity remain relatively stable, subject to gradual changes through natural succession." and "A stable balance in the numbers of each species in an ecosystem."
The most important point being that the natural balance in an ecosystem is maintained. This balance may be disturbed due to the introduction of new species, the sudden death of some species, natural hazards or man-made causes. In this field trip we will explore how human population and development affects the ecological balance.
Take time to explore this site as your gateway to the world of ecology. It has interesting articles and facts. There are features such as the Environmental Timeline that shows how there were different concerns about the environment throughout history.
The environmental impact of war is an interesting article on how preparation of war and warfare leads to environmental losses.
The carpet bombing of the lush green forests during the Vietnam war led to the loss of habitat of many species. Special features on population and the environment show how population has increased from the industrial age and how it will affect the environment. There are additional resources for higher classes.
In the name of development, we remove trees and vegetation, change how we use land, and keep expanding paved areas. All these not only affect the soil ecology, but also the water balance. Increased urbanization also requires more water to feed the city's population and industry, often requiring deeper and deeper wells to be drilled or water to be moved from even more distant locations.
Increase of pavement area not lonely lessens the amount of water vapour that transpires back from the vegetation but also contributes to groundwater pollution if the salt used to melt road ice were allowed to runoff into the natural drainage system.
Visit this site for a detailed look at water as a precious resource and how human development affects water and its ecosystem. It is dedicated to Water Day.
To understand how human population and increased developmental activities affect the ecosystem, there are live examples all over the world. Armenia is one such example of what is happening to the ecosystem because of increased population and developmental activities. Over the last 1,000 years human impacts on the land have increased, mainly through deforestation and increased use of pastures.
Such problems have intensified over recent years with unprecedented population growth and urbanisation since 1920, resulting in increased human impacts not only on individual species, but also on whole ecosystems. Read the article on this site and you will consciously become aware of what unchecked industrial development and urbanization could do to your region.
The fast pace of development has led to many unwanted results. Exotic species get destroyed faster than we can discover them and ancient ecosystems are getting disturbed in our scientific explorations. Find out about amazing facts on human impact on oceans, toxins, and much more as you explore this site for environmental education on the web.
It is designed primarily for kids, but the features and articles are good reading for any grade. There are also handy tips on what you can do to help protect the environment and ideas on how you can start an ecology club in your neighbourhood. Visit the resources given on the Ecology and great Links pages to know more about this science.