What are Some of the Major Ecosystems?

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Image of an ecosystem

An ecosystem has both living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) parts. Organisms such as plants and animals are the living parts. Physical elements such as soil, sunlight, and water are the nonliving parts. Earth’s many ecosystems can be found on land or in water. An ecosystem consists of the biological community that occurs in some locale, and the physical and chemical factors that make up its non-living or abiotic environment. There are many examples of  node:3877,title="ecosystems"] -- a pond, a forest, an estuary, grassland. The margins are not fixed in any intentional way, even if sometimes they seem obvious, as with the shoreline of a small pond. Commonly, the boundaries of an ecosystem are chosen for practical reasons having to do with the goals of the particular study. There are hundreds of ecosystems on the planet, divided into primary categories (i.e., desert) and numerous subcategories (i.e., Western You do not have access to view this node Desert).


What is the process of Eco-system?

  • Open system: Energy enters the biological system as light energy, or photons, is transformed into chemical energy in organic molecules by cellular processes including photosynthesis and respiration, and ultimately is converted to heat energy. This energy is dissipated, meaning it is lost to the system as heat; once it is lost it cannot be recycled. Without the continued input of solar energy, biological systems would quickly shut down. Thus the earth is an open system with respect to energy.
  • Closed system: Elements such as carbon, nitrogen, or phosphorus enter living organisms in a variety of ways. Plants obtain elements from the surrounding atmosphere, water, or soils. Animals may also obtain elements directly from the physical environment, but usually they obtain these mainly as a consequence of consuming other organisms. Sometimes, due to excretion or decomposition, they are returned to an inorganic state. Often bacteria complete this process, through the process called “decomposition or mineralization”. During decomposition these materials are not destroyed or lost, so the earth is a closed system with respect to elements.



What are Earth's major land ecosystems?

Earth’s major land ecosystems include tundra, forests, grasslands, and deserts.

  • Tundra ecosystems are cold and dry and can be found in the far northern parts of Earth. Only small, hardy plants survive in the tundra. Animals in the tundra include caribou, weasels, and foxes.
  • Taiga, the Canadian and Siberian coniferous forest ecosystems can be found in many different climates such as cold, temperate, and tropical. Forests contain a rich variety of plant and animal life.
  • Grasslands are found in mostly dry climates which include most of Asia and North America and the deep subterranean ecosystem, which extends 2-4 miles beneath the surface of the Earth and is primarily populated by bacteria. The grasslands are also known as the “Subsurface Lithoautotrophic Microbial Ecosystem” and is one of the least studied ecosystems on Earth, despite being one of the largest. Some grasslands have scattered trees and large animals like zebra and elephants, and some contain grasses and flowers and smaller animals such as jackrabbits and coyotes.
  • Desert ecosystems get very little rainfall and can either have a cool or a very hot climate. Deserts may contain hardy plants, such as cactuses and shrubs, and a variety of animals such as rabbits, rats, owls, and snakes. The North American desert biome includes several different vegetation types or plant communities. Shadscale scrub, a California plant community dominated by low-growing species of saltbush.



What are the various Water Ecosystems?

Earth also has several types of water ecosystems, including rivers, lakes, and oceans. Coral reefs and the deep ocean are two instances of ocean ecosystems.

  • Coral reef ecosystems are found in some shallow parts of the ocean. Small animals called coral polyps live in them, and after they die, their skeletons become part of the reef.
  • Photic zone, surface layer of a body of water (within 200 m of the surface): The photic zone is the surface layer of a body of water. In the photic zone, enough light is present for organisms to photosynthesize. In the ocean, around 90% of the life can be found in the photic zone.
  • Deep sea ecosystems are cold and dark with a very high water pressure. However, tube worms and many species of fish survive here.
  • The abyssal plain (the ocean floors): The deepest part of the ocean is known as the abyssal plain. Because the abyssal plain is so deep, it is difficult to explore, since it presents some unique challenges including extreme pressures. As a result, much of the abyssal plain has not been mapped or extensively studied, and is considered the great unknown of the Earth; some scientists hypothesize that more knowledge about Mars is available than about the abyssal plain.



What are the Ecosystems of the Tropical rainforest?

The tropical rain forest contains tall trees draped with epiphytes and vines. In Costa Rica, this vine is known as "monkey ladder”, and actual forms arboreal access roads for monkeys high in the rain forest canopy. Along the edge of the forest where there is enormous sunlight, the sea heart vines completely cover their support trees. Often, ecosystems are distinct in terms of the vegetation, which serve as the core of the ecosystem and which everything else eats, either directly (consumers) or indirectly (predators). Close to the equator, some major ecosystems defined by vegetation are tropical rainforest, subtropical rainforest, coniferous forest, grasslands, taiga, and tundra. These are intermixed with mountainous and desert ecosystems, each with their own unique flora and fauna. There are also a number of human major ecosystems, such as croplands and cities. The most important terrestrial major ecosystem is rainforest – rainforests contain more than half of all biodiversity, maybe as much as 80%. Unfortunately, rainforests are also one of the fastest-disappearing ecosystems, destroyed by land clearing for agriculture. Unless this land clearing is aggressively halted, rainforests could disappear by 2100 or earlier. Majority of the planet can also be considered as human-influenced ecosystems, as humans are so numerous and intervene in nature.

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