Structure of Ecosystems

What is the structure of an Ecosystem?

A living being is consistently in the condition of an ideal offset with the earth. The environment indeed implies the surroundings. Creatures and conditions are two non-distinct elements. Living beings cooperate with the physical conditions available in their living spaces

The structure of an ecosystem can be simplified into soil, nutrients, plants, and animals.

Nature alludes to the things and conditions around the creatures which directly or indirectly impact the life and advancement of the life forms and their populaces. As indicated by Woodbury (1954), the Ecosystem is a complex system where the environment, plants and creatures are considered as one fascinating unit, the materials and vitality of one going all through the others. 

The idea of the ecosystem was first advanced by A.G. Tansley (1935). The Ecosystem is the primary environmental unit. It has both structure and capacity. The structure is identified by a variety of assorted species. The more complex the structure, the more prominent is the assorted variety of species in the Ecosystem. The elements of the Ecosystem are identified with the progression of energy and the burning of materials through auxiliary parts of the Ecosystem. 

Structure of the Ecosystem: 

The structure of an ecosystem is fundamentally a depiction of the living beings in a specific living space. It additionally provides data concerning the scope of climatic conditions prevailing in the region. 

From the structure perspective, all ecosystems comprise the following essential components: 

1. Abiotic  

2. Biotic  

1. Abiotic Components: 

Biological connections are shown in physicochemical conditions. The abiotic part of the ecosystem incorporates fundamental inorganic components and substances, for example, soil, water, oxygen, calcium carbonates, phosphates and an assortment of original substances (side-effects of natural exercises or demise). 

It additionally incorporates such physical components and fixings as dampness, wind currents and sun-based radiation. The sun is the prime source of energy necessary for productivity and energy flow in the Ecosystem. The measure of non-living factors, for example, carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, that are available at some random time, is known as the standing state or standing amount.

2. Biotic Components: 

The biotic parts incorporate every single living life form present in the ecological framework. 

From a sustenance perspective, the biotic parts can be grouped in two essential parts: 

(I) Autotrophic and 

(ii) Heterotrophic  

The autotrophic parts incorporate every green plant, which fixes the energy of the sun and produces nourishment from inorganic substances. The heterotrophic parts incorporate non-green plants and all creatures, which take nourishment from autotrophs. 

Biotic segments of an ecosystem can be classified under the following three headings: 

1. Producers (Autotrophic segments), 

2. Consumers, and 

3. Decomposers or reducers and transformers 

The measure of biomass in an ecosystem is known as standing yield, which is typically described as new weight, dry weight or as free energy as far as calories/metre. 

Producers (Autotrophic components): 

The producers are the autotrophic components—mainly green plants. They utilize the energy of the sun in the photosynthetic process whereby carbon dioxide is absorbed, and light energy is changed into chemical energy. Light energy is captured and converts water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds. Oxygen is released as a side-effect of photosynthesis. 

This is a source of life for every single living thing. Green growth such as hydrophytes in a lake, grasses in a field and trees in the backwoods are examples of producers. Chemosynthetic microbes and carotenoid-bearing purple microorganisms likewise absorb CO2 with the energy of daylight to produce their own food. 

The term producer is misleading because, in an energy setting, they produce sugar and not energy. Since they change over or transduce energy into a synthetic structure, E.J. Kormondy proposes the terms ‘converters’ or ‘transducers.’ However, the term producer is more broadly used. 

Consumers: 

Those living individuals in the ecosystem who consume the nourishment generated by producers are called consumers. Under this classification, they include a wide range of creatures that are found in an ecosystem. 

There are various classes or classifications of consumers, for example, 

(a) Consumers of the first request or essential consumers, 

(b) Consumers of the subsequent request or optional consumers, 

(c) Consumers of the third request or tertiary consumers, and 

(d) Decomposers and transformers: parasites, foragers and saprophytes. 

(a) Primary consumers: 

These are herbivorous creatures that rely on producers or green plants for their nourishment. Insects, rodents, rabbits, deer, dairy animals, wild ox, and goats are natural herbivores in the ecosystem. Small shellfish, molluscs, and so forth in the oceanic living space. Elton (1939) identified herbivores as “key industry creatures.” Herbivores are the central source of nourishment for carnivores. 

(b) Secondary consumers: 

These are carnivores and omnivores. Carnivores eat animal matter, and omnivores eat both animal and plant matter. Instances of optional consumers are sparrows, crows, foxes, wolves, hounds, felines, and snakes. 

(c) Tertiary consumers: 

These are the top carnivores that pursue other carnivores, omnivores and herbivores. Lions, tigers, eagles and vultures are considered tertiary or top consumers. 

(d) Other consumers:

Decomposers include parasites, foragers and saprobes and are additional consumers. Decomposers are plants and creatures that break down the living tissue of various plants and creatures. Saprophytes use dead and decaying matter from creatures and plants as their nourishment. 

Read more about Ecosystem Processes

Decomposers and transformers: 

Decomposers and transformers are the living parts of the ecosystem such as parasites and microbes. Decomposers break down organic substances from producers and consumers recycling them back into the Ecosystem. The primary natural substances are then broken down by another microscopic organism, the transformers, which change these original substances into chemical structures that can be reused by producers or green plants. The decomposers and transformers play a significant role in maintaining the dynamics of the ecosystem. 

The capacity of the Ecosystem: 

An ecosystem is a discrete auxiliary, utilitarian and life-supporting natural framework comprising biotic and abiotic segments in a living space. The biotic part of the ecosystem incorporates living beings. Plants, creatures and microorganisms in the abiotic segment incorporate inorganic issues and energy. 

Abiotic parts provide the framework for the union and propagation of natural segments (cellular material). The union and propagation processes include energy input, which originates from the sun as light or sunlight-based energy. 

In this way, in any ecosystem, we have the accompanying useful segments: 

(I) Inorganic constituents (air, water and mineral salts) 

(ii) Organisms (plants, creatures and microorganisms), and 

(iii) Energy input which enters from outside (the sun). 

These three cooperate in an ecological framework. Inorganic constituents combine into natural structures like green plants (essential producers) through photosynthesis, and the sun-based energy used in the process. Green plants become the source of energy for reestablishment (herbivores), which in turn become sources of energy for flesh-eating creatures (carnivores). Numerous creatures develop, increasing their body weight, and their energy is an intricate natural compound used as nourishment. 

They are known as optional producers. All living beings, whether plants or creatures in an ecosystem, have a positive life expectancy after which they die off. The dead matter from plants and creatures nourish saprophytic microorganisms, for example, microscopic organisms, growths and numerous different creatures. The saprophytes decay the natural structure and break the complex atoms and free the inorganic parts into their final condition.

These creatures are known as decomposers. During the process of deterioration of natural atoms, the energy which kept the inorganic segments bound together as fundamental particles are freed and dispersed into the earth as warm energy.  

Supplements are extracted from the substrate, saved in the tissues of the plants and creatures, recycled from one to the next, discharged by disintegration into the soil, water and air and later reused. The ecosystems working in various living spaces, for example, deserts, woodlands, meadows and oceans, are reliant on each other. The vitality and supplements of one ecosystem may find their way into another with the goal that eventually all pieces of the earth are interrelated, each involving a part of the entire framework that keeps the biosphere functioning. 

Along these lines, the chief activities of the ecosystem are as follows: 

(1) Reception of energy of the sun, 

(2) Manufacture of natural materials from inorganic substances by producers, 

(3) Consumption of producers by purchasers and further elaboration of expended materials; and 

(4) After the demise of producers and consumers, complex natural substances are debased, lastly changed over by decomposers and converters into structures appropriate for reutilization by producers. 

The chief activities of the ecosystem don’t only include the creation, development and processing of living segments, but also impact the abiotic components of the system. At present, it is evident that there is a movement of both energy and supplements from producers to customers, finally to decomposers and transformers. Currently, there is an effective decrease of vitality; however, the supplementary part is not reduced, and it shows cycling from abiotic to biotic and vice versa. 

The progression of vitality is unidirectional. The two biological processes—energy stream and mineral cycling, which include connection among biotic and abiotic segments, lie at the core of ecosystem elements. The chief movement and parts of the ecosystem are illustrated in the above figure.

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Cite/Link to This Article

  • "Structure of Ecosystems". Geography Revision. Accessed on August 19, 2022. https://geography-revision.co.uk/a-level/human/structure-of-ecosystems/.

  • "Structure of Ecosystems". Geography Revision, https://geography-revision.co.uk/a-level/human/structure-of-ecosystems/. Accessed 19 August, 2022.

  • Structure of Ecosystems. Geography Revision. Retrieved from https://geography-revision.co.uk/a-level/human/structure-of-ecosystems/.