What is Ecology?
Ecology is the study of the associations and interactions of the organisms and the environment in general. The living place or dwelling place of any organism is known as habitat. Inside every habitat there are variations or micro habitats.
Inside every given habitat, we would notice physical or abiotic environment as well as living organisms or biotic factors. There is interaction and interdependence between organisms in a given habitat.
The word ecology is derived from two Greek words: oikos which means ‘house’ or place of abode and logos which means to discuss or study. Literally, ecology means the study of organism ‘at home’ in their natural environment.
What is an ecosystem?
Ecosystem is a term used to represent a whole community of organisms and its environment as a unit. In other words, it consists of the community of organisms (biotic factors) plus the associated physical environment (abiotic factors). It is usually self sufficient and can be permanent or temporary.
Ecosystems means living organism that exist together in a symbiotic relationship with their environment. Living organisms in an ecosystem fight with one another over who would turn into the most successful at reproducing and surviving in a particular niche, or environment.
There are two major components of the ecosystem: abiotic components and biotic components.
The abiotic components of any ecosystem are the physical properties of the environment; the biotic components are the living organisms that live a particular ecosystem.
What are the components of an ecosystem
- Biotic Components of the Ecosystem:
The biotic components of an ecosystem are the living organisms that live in an ecosystem. These living organisms in an ecosystem assist in the transfer and cycle of energy inside any given ecosystem.
They are classified based on the source of energy requirement of their body. Producers like plants manufacture their own energy without consuming other living organisms; plants obtain their energy through the process of photosynthesis with the energy for the reaction obtained from sunlight.
Consumers can be seen on the subsequent level of the food chain.
There are three major types of consumers: herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. Herbivores feed on plants; carnivores get their food by eating other living organisms whether carnivores or herbivores, and omnivores are animals that possess the ability to digest both plant and animal tissue.
Therefore, the biotic components of the ecosystem which is composed of the plants, animals and microbes work together and are reliant on the abiotic factors.
- Abiotic Components of the Ecosystem:
Abiotic components are and ecological factor that acts of living components during any part of their life. Abiotic factors are the factors that are either physical or chemical factors that are the characteristic of the environment under study.
A lot of ecological studies have been conducted on the significance or importance of the main abiotic factors which control the physical and biological components in an ecosystem at different ranges of time and space.
Abiotic factors are the non-living components of a habitat. The abiotic factors in an ecosystem are grouped into soil (edaphic), air, topography, meteorology, availability of water and quality of water.
The meteorological factors are temperature, wind, sun, humidity and precipitation. The activities and growth of plants and animals are a result of many of these abiotic factors.
Abiotic facotrs are the non-living components of the ecosystem. The chemical, geological factors like soil, minerals, rocks and physical factors like temperature, wind, water, sunlight are defined as abiotic factors.
The abiotic factors affect the ecosystem and play a very important role in the biology of the ecosystem. The abiotic facts factors as well include average humidity, topography and natural disturbances, light, acidity, radiation, and every organic and inorganic components of the ecosystem.
The quantity of the abiotic components available in the ecosystem is referred to as ‘the standing stage’.
Abiotic components of an ecosystem therefore are made up of the nonorganic aspects of the environment that decides the living things that can survive in that particular ecosystem.
Temperature of an ecosystem differs by latitude; locations close to the equator are hotter than locations that are closed to the poles or the temperate zones. Humidity regulates and determines the amount of water and moisture in the air and soil, which, in turn, influence rainfall.
Topography is the layout of the land in relation to its elevation. For instance, according to the University of Wisconsin, land situated in the rain shadow of a mountain will experience less precipitation of rainfall.
Natural disturbances include things like tsunamis, lightning storms, hurricanes and wild fires.
An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in addition to the nonliving components of their environment like air, water and mineral soil, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are known to be linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows.
Since ecosystems are defined by the complex of interactions among living organisms, and between the organisms and their surrounding environment, they can be of whichever size but normally comprises specific, restricted spaces even though a few scientists are of the opinion that the whole world is an ecosystem.
An ecosystem is made up of the biological community that takes place in some locality, and the physical as well as chemical factors that make up its non-living or abiotic environment. There are a lot of examples of ecosystems like a pond, a forest, an estuary or grassland.
The boundaries are not limited in an objective manner, though a few times they appear obvious, just like the shoreline of an undersized pond. Normally, the boundaries of an ecosystem are selected for practical reasons which have to do with the objectives of that specific study.
The study of ecosystems mostly consists of the study of a few processes that connect the living, or biotic components to the non-living, or abiotic, components. Energy transformations and bio-geochemical cycling are the major processes that comprise the field of ecosystem ecology.
As discussed earlier, ecology is generally defined as the interactions of living organisms with one another and with the environment where they live. Ecology can be studied at the level of the individual, the population, the community, and the ecosystem.
Studies of ecology on the basis of individuals are mainly in terms of physiology, reproduction, development or behavior, and studies of ecology on the basis of populations are normally focused on the habitat and resource requirements of individual species, their group behaviors, population growth, and factors that limit their abundance or leads to their extinction.
Studies of ecology on the basis of communities investigates the way populations of a lot of species interact with one another, like predators and their prey, or competitors that contribute to common needs or resources.
In ecosystem ecology all of this is put together and try to comprehend the way the entire system operates. This means that, instead of worrying majorly about specific species, a focus is rather directed towards the main functional aspects of the system.
These functional aspects include things like the amount of energy that is generated through the process of photosynthesis, how energy or materials flow along the various steps of a food chain, or things that controls the rate of decomposition of materials or the rate at which nutrients are recycled in the system.
Habitually, biological communities are made up of the “functional groupings” illustrated on the table above.
A functional group is a biological class composed of organisms that carry out majorly the same type of function in the system; for example, all of the photosynthetic plants or primary producers constitute a functional group.
Belonging to a functional group does not rely immensely on who the real players (species) are rather on what function they carry out in the ecosystem.
Organism and Environment
Each and every one of living organisms possesses its particular surrounding medium of environment with which it constantly interacts and remains totally adapted.
The surroundings or the localities in which a lot of plants and animals naturally occur are referred to as habitats.
The word habitat means living or dwelling place. Habitat of an organism is a part of the total environment of the region and it ought to offer the residing organism food, shelter and climatic conditions that are appropriate for the survival of the organism as well as its reproduction and thriving.
The term microhabitat refers to a small region or area within a particular habitat with particular features that go well with a few organisms better than others. The term microhabitat is as well used for a smaller and immediate habitat of an organism.
The Ecosystem is the basic unit of ecological study. It means a self-sustaining system in which living organisms and their non-living environment interact to exchange energy and materials.
All systems function to form the biosphere, that part of the earth which supports life, and is made up of the atmosphere, bodies of water and soil to a depth of lots of feet.
Ecologists normally study communities which are systems (like a pond, marsh, forest or selfcontained aquarium. Within the ecosystem, water and materials are constantly being recycled.
Energy, which comes from sunlight is very essential for life and is used by green plants to manufacture sugars via photosynthesis. The process of photosynthesis produces fuel that keeps the whole living world sustained.
Habitat and Niche
Habitat is the place where a living organism lives. For instance, the habitat of waternet (an algae) is a calm pond, while a robin’s habitat may be a suburban garden. Habitat requirements are complicated not simple. The requirements are appropriate food, shelter, water and space.
Physical factors like light, heat and moisture ought not to go beyond the organism’s limit of tolerance. Over the years, plants and animals have developed adaptations like periods of dormancy, hibernation, cyst formation and changes in body structure, which allow them to live through unfavorable times and circumstances.
Niche can be defined as the role of an organism in its habitat. This composed of every aspect of its structure, behavior and activities. For instance, the biological niche of an owl might be defined as a nocturnal, carnivorous, predatory bird.
Some organisms occupy a lot of various niches during their life histories. For instance, a mosquito in the larval stage of life lives in shallow water habitats as a primary consumer, but occupies a completely different habitat and niche as an adult.
The biotic community is the living part of an ecosystem, and can be defined as a group of plant and animal populations living together (interacting with one another) in a specific habitat. Organisms are connected in food chains, and all the food chains of a community constitute a food web.
Every organism in the community occupies a specific niche. The main multifaceted communities have the majorities of niches occupied and, consequently, are more dissimilar.
Complex communities normally are the main stable, due to the fact that they are least likely to be affected by change.
In some communities, one or many species may be dominant. Dominant species are normally plants. These plants are the majorly common, convert the most energy, regulate the climate for the other organisms, and frequently make available the main source of food and shelter.
Communities like an oak/hickory forest, are frequently named after the dominant species.