An ecosystem is a system in which all the living organisms interact with all the nonliving components in an environment. The interaction between the biotic and abiotic components takes place through different nutrients cycles and energy flows. Ecosystems are affected by different internal factors like decomposition, evolution, shading, etc., and external factors like climate and topography of an environment. The main energy in an ecosystem is entered through the process of photosynthesis. The plants are then consumed by animals, which help in the decomposition of the organic matter and help out the nutrient cycles which convert nutrients into biomass that are used by the plants and other microbes.
The study that deals with abiotic and biotic components, their interactions, and different energy flows and nutrient cycles between them is known as ecology. The ecosystems can be studied at an exceedingly small scale and also on a very large scale. To make things easy, there exist levels of organisation of these ecosystems. These are known as the levels of ecological organisation that goes from the smallest level to the largest level- species, population, community, ecosystem, biomes, and biosphere.
Level 1 or the Species: In level one, a group of individuals are genetically related to each other and can breed to produce an offspring of their own kind. This group of individuals is known as species. If an individual cannot produce an offspring that is genetically related to each other, that means, the individual does not belong to the same species, in biology, the latter or second part of any living organism’s name is its species name like for us Homo Sapiens, Sapiens is our species name.
Level 2 or the Population: Organisms that belong to the same species may group together and interact with each other in the same environment. Groups of the same species in an environment, in the biological terms, are known as population, like the sapiens living together to form the human population in a place.
Level 3 or the Community: Community is understood as the total population of living organisms, including groups of different species and not just the same. It accounts for the interaction between groups of living organisms belonging to different species groups in the same environment.
Level 4 or the Ecosystem: This level is a system where all biotic (living component) factors in an environment interact with abiotic (non-living components) factors. In other words, all populations interact with abiotic components of the same environment. This level of ecological organisation is known as an ecosystem.
Level 5 or the Biome: Biome is a biological word to denote a larger habitat. It is a much larger community of plants and animals of a distinct region. Flora and fauna of this distinct region complement each other and grow in a similar condition. A very fine example of one of the biomes in the world is the desert biome. In this biome, animals like camels and plants like cactus live and grow under the same hot and dry conditions.
Level 6 or the Biosphere: Biosphere, also known as the ecosphere, is the largest level of ecological organization. It is used to describe the layer of earth sustaining life. It, in other words, is the sum total of various ecosystems together. It is the total part of the earth that sustains life and has the required conditions to breed life as well. It is this biosphere that is further divided into the atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere.
Species is a smaller scale of organization of individuals that are genetically similar or related to each other while the population is a larger scale of organization of groups of similar species.
Organisms that belong to the same species, form groups, and interact together in the same environment make the level of the population, whereas the total living population in an environment in the community. The main population and community difference between the two is that the former has groups of the same species, while the latter has groups of different species, too, making it larger than the former.
1. Are Ecology and Environmentalism the Same and One Thing? What is a Biosphere? And What are its Various Types?
No, ecology and environmentalism are quite different from each other. Ecology is the study of different life processes, interactions, and adaptation of biotic components and abiotic components in an environment. It also deals with the process of development of different ecosystems, the flow of energy and materials among different living organisms. On the other hand, environmentalism is more philosophical in nature. It tries to study different ideologies, view-points, and environment or social movements for environmental protection and conservation.
A biosphere is best understood as the sum of all ecosystems on the surface of the earth. It is divided into three categories- the lithosphere, that is the life on land, hydrosphere, that is the life on the water, the atmosphere, that is the life in the air.
2. Define Population and Community. What is the Difference Between Species and the Community?
Organisms that belong to the same species, form groups, and interact together in the same environment make the level of the population whereas a community has groups of different species living together in an environment.
Species are the group of individuals that are genetically related to each other. They breed to give birth to offspring of their kind like the human species.
A community is a group of different species living together in an environment. The main difference between the two is that one is smaller as it does not involve other species, and the other is larger and involves groups of different species in an environment.