Importance of Ecosystem

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Ecosystem explains how energy and matter are circulated or moved through different environments that include biotic and abiotic factors. An interactive stable system or community formed as a result of various organisms interacting with each other and the non-living components of the environment is called an ecosystem. Let’s understand further about the importance of ecosystems.

What is the Importance of Ecosystems?

The major points that include the role of ecosystems in the universe include the following-

  • It is important for ecological processes and regulation of the energy flow, supporting life systems and providing stability.

  • It is essential for an utmost important process called nutrient cycling where nutrients in the form of energy and matter are exchanged between biotic and abiotic components.

  • It is helpful in maintaining a proper balance among different trophic levels in the ecosystem. 

  • The ecosystem allows the recycling of minerals in the biosphere. The biosphere is briefly explained further in the article.

  • It produces plenty of organic compounds that help in exchanging energy among different various levels of organisms. 

  • It flourishes people with food, fiber, paper, timber and medicines; it also provides renewable and non renewable sources of energy.

Why is the Ecosystem So Important?

The importance of ecosystem can be understood with the following points and all the terms and factors associated with it.

  • The conservation of matter and energy takes place in ecosystems and the energy flowing through the system is balanced as it flows from one organism to another and the matter is recycled.

  • Different ecosystems interacting with each other is called the biosphere. Therefore, we can say the biosphere is the sum of all worldwide ecosystems and is also known as the ecosphere.

  • An ecosystem comprises:

  1. A community

  2. Biotic component

  3. Abiotic component

Let us Understand all of these Terms Briefly

A community is created when living and nonliving components in an environment are in conjunction with each other. It means those interact as a system where nutrient cycles and energy flows are involved. The linking of these components, i.e. biotic and abiotic components respectively, form an ecosystem. 

Biotic factors or components comprise plants, animals and microorganisms whereas abiotic components include sunlight, wind, soil, climate, air, minerals, temperature, altitude, turbidity and pH. 

  • Now, the question arises: How and where does the energy is produced and flow back that highly contributes to the importance of an ecosystem? The answer to this question can be explained in the following steps:

Primary Production- The energy enters the system through photosynthesis which is the process of synthesizing food by autotrophic plants. This is the primary reason why are plants important to the ecosystem.

Energy Flow- By feeding on these plants as well as on other animals, the animals here have an important role in the movement of energy and matter throughout the system. Additionally, they also contribute to the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present in the system. 

Decomposition and Nutrient Cycling- Now, it's time to know how energy circulates back to the atmosphere. The answer is decomposers that release carbon to the environment and facilitate nutrient cycling i.e. they convert nutrients present in the dead biomass back to the atmosphere in the form that plants and other microbes can readily use it. 

  • Numerous living organisms are found in the ecosystem which is broadly categorized as terrestrial (land) ecosystems and aquatic (water) ecosystems. The aquatic ecosystem includes marine, freshwater, oceans, ponds, and rivers whereas terrestrial ecosystems include terrestrial biomes which are savannas, deserts, tropical rain forests, deciduous forests and tundra.

  • Ecologists find it interesting to trace the movement of energy and matter through ecosystems. In this system, multiple food webs i.e. networks of organisms feeding on each other and biogeochemical cycles i.e. the pathways for chemical elements are highly involved. The various organisms tend to adapt to the environment in search of food and need for energy in a particular ecosystem. 

  • It can be said that the entry of energy in the ecosystem is in the form of light (sunlight during photosynthesis) and the exit of energy is in the form of heat. Unlike matter, energy cannot be recycled in ecosystems and is a one-way flow and therefore it is said that energy flow is unidirectional in an ecosystem. When energy transfers from one organism to another or to the environment, it is converted to heat (but this form of energy cannot be used by living organisms as such).

  • Why is the Ecosystem so Important? The biodiversity of an ecosystem is important because it stabilises the whole system where life is present. When any severe impact is there for a particular species on the ecosystem, the other several plant species performing similar functions can help the survival of the plants and ecosystem sustenance. Therefore, it is important that a variety of organisms interact with each other to help sustain lives in an ecosystem.

  • We should take care that any of the human activities do not disturb the ecological balance in the ecosystem. It should not be pushed to a point where the ecosystem reaches a zone that is no longer resilient. It may result in the permanent alteration or loss of a particular ecosystem. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Purpose of an Ecosystem?

Ecosystem helps in balancing the energy and matter flowing or transferring from one organism to another. It also involves abiotic factors that are non living components like sunlight, wind, temperature, pH, soil, etc. Living components include plants, animals and microorganisms in an ecosystem. The importance of an ecosystem allows-

  • Providing habitat to wild animals and plants.

  • Supporting various food webs/food chains.

  • Regulating essential processes in ecology and supporting lives.

  • Recycling nutrients between biotic and abiotic factors.

  • Maintain the flow of energy with the help of the carbon cycle, water cycle, nitrogen cycle and oxygen cycle.

2. State the Importance of Pond Ecosystem.

The great significance of the pond ecosystem lies in the fact that it provides habitat for scarce species living in water and also supports biodiversity. It supports a variety of organisms more than that of freshwater ecosystems. 

3. Why are Plants Important to the Ecosystem?

Plants are the primary living organisms that act as producers of energy in the presence of sunlight in an ecosystem. Energy production starts with plants which then goes to animals and other microorganisms.