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Ecosystem: The Functioning Community of Plant And Animal Life


An ecosystem relates to the specific environment that contains a specific diversity of plant and animal life. The ecosystem must include the living and non living influences, from flora, fauna and fungi to the influences of their surroundings. Things such as humidity, elevation, salinity, and drainage will impact on the conditions of the living organisms right down to bacteria.

The study of an individual ecosystem will involve the interaction between all the species that inhabit the area, even if they only move through the area on a seasonal basis. The physiognomic-ecological classification system has been implemented to identify ecosystems in order to help protect them. The classification system takes into account all the living organisms and how they interact with the non living organisms and the overall environmental conditions the ecosystem exists within.

The living organisms in an ecosystem will include the larger animals, mammals, insects, plants, and fungi right through to the smallest bacteria and moulds. The environment and non living aspect of an ecosystem include the landscape, from the formation and types of rocks, soils, underlying water table, climate, elevation, exposure and location.

In the study of an ecosystem the number and condition of the living organisms will help in forming a classification for the type of ecosystem. The location of the landscape will also effect the ecosystems classification. There are many types of ecosystem. A desert landscape with its flora and fauna, the marine environment and the mountain landscape all are individual ecosystems. Human interaction will effect an ecosystem and must be taken into account in the protection of any fragile ecosystem.

As with any environmental factors effecting life on earth, studies of any given ecosystem will include the life cycle of the trees, grasses, fungi and moulds. Each living species within the ecosystem must be taken into account. To study an ecosystem the interaction between species and their environment and the unique conditions must be explored. Every ecosystem has a climate, culture, environmental impact and symbiotic relationship between living and non living organisms. It is this relationship and the number and diversity of the life forms involved that give an ecosystem its unique value in our world.

An ecosystem exists within its own parameters but outside influence can impact upon the species and landforms involved. Changing climate conditions, human encroachment, flood famine and fire can all alter a specific ecosystems balance and sustainability.

An ecosystem may vary from one side of a mountain to the other, from one part of a stream to another. Any change in soil type, drainage, salinity or even human encroachment can change the whole ecosystem. They are delicate and balanced in nature, and many will not stand the impact of change.


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