An ecosystem is a system or a functional unit in the environment where living and nonliving components interact with each other. Thus, it can be defined as a community of living organisms and nonliving components living in conjunction with each other in the environment. The non-living components of the ecosystem include water, soil, atmosphere, temperature, etc. while living organisms have an internal hierarchy within an ecosystem.
Within the living organisms are the producers, the consumers, and the decomposers. Their interactions with each other give rise to the food chain within an ecosystem. The ecosystem exists on the basis of the linking within the food chains and complex food webs. The non-living components support the living components by providing essential materials that are required for survival. This includes energy, air, water, etc. which are ultimately acquired as a result of various biological cycles.
Characteristics of the Ecosystem
Energy flow and nutrient cycles link the living components of the ecosystem to the non-living components.
The energy flows unidirectionally or in one direction in the ecosystem.
Energy enters it through the process of photosynthesis. Animals feed on plants and one another, thus aiding the movement of energy and matter through the system. The decomposers then break down the organic matter and release carbon and nutrients back to the ecosystem. So that it can be used up again by plants in their simpler forms to utilize for the process of photosynthesis.
Abiotic factors like climate, topography, etc. influence the biotic components of the ecosystem.
Ecological pyramids are another important factor in the ecosystem. An ecological pyramid gives the graphical representation of the number, energy, and biomass of the successive trophic levels of an ecosystem.
Every part of the environment with its exclusive flora and fauna has an ecosystem of its own. Examples of the same are- Aquatic Ecosystem, Desert Ecosystem, etc.
What is a Biome?
Biomes are a community of living organisms that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. They are formed as a result of the living organism’s response to the physical climate. A particular zone on Earth can be termed as a biome which is identified by a large-scale climate and vegetation characteristics.
Biomes are generally identified and named after the life form that exists in it, for instance, grassland, coral reef, tropical rain forests, etc.
Due to the similarity in the patterns of natural selection Species in different parts of a biome may appear similar in behavior and appearance.
Examples of biomes – Tundra, temperate evergreens, etc.
Difference Between Ecosystem and Biomes
Points to Remember
An ecosystem is smaller than a biome because a biome is distributed throughout the Earth.
A biome is strongly influenced by its physical factors like climatic conditions such as snow, temperature, rainfall, etc. but an ecosystem is not.
A biome is also influenced by latitude which an ecosystem is independent of.
In biome, the living components or all the organisms may not necessarily interact with each other.
In an ecosystem, the interaction between various living components or organisms Is the basis of its numerous food webs and energy flow.