An ecosystem is a geographical location in which plants, animals, and other species, as well as weather and topography, coexist to build a bubble of life. Ecosystems contain both biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) factors. Plants, animals, and other species are some examples of biotic factors, whereas rocks, temperature, and humidity account for examples of abiotic factors.
The entire Earth’s surface is a network of interconnected ecosystems. Ecosystems are frequently linked in a broader biome. Large portions of land, sea, or atmosphere are called biomes. Forests, ponds, reefs, and Tundra are all examples of biomes. They are classified broadly based on the plants and animals that inhabit them. There exist diverse habitats within each forest, pond, reef, or tundra region.
Ecosystems can be huge or extremely small. Tide pools, which are ponds left by the ocean as the tide recedes, are entire, miniature ecosystems. Tide pools contain seaweed, a type of algae that produces food through photosynthesis. Seaweed is eaten by herbivores such as abalone. Carnivores, like sea stars, devour other species in the tide pool like clams and mussels. Tide pools are affected by changes in the ocean’s water level. When the tide is in, and the pool is entire, some species thrive in an aquatic environment like seaweed. Hermit crabs, for example, cannot live underwater and therefore rely on the shallow pools left by low tides. As a result, the biotic components of the ecosystem are dependent on abiotic forces.
Ecosystems are broadly classified into two types:
- Natural Ecosystem: These are ecosystems that exist naturally and can endure without human interference. Forests, mountains, rivers, and other natural ecosystems are examples.
- Human-Made or Artificial Ecosystem: Artificial ecosystems are created when humans change an existing ecosystem to fulfill their needs or construct an ecosystem that mimics the natural environment.
Table of Contents
- Natural Ecosystems
- A. Terrestrial Ecosystem
- B. Aquatic Ecosystem
- 1. Marine ecosystems
- 2. Freshwater ecosystems
One of the primary distinctions between natural and artificial ecosystems is that the latter requires continual monitoring because it is not self-sustaining. Aquariums, farming fields, gardens, and dams are examples of this habitat type.
The natural ecosystem consists of living and nonliving species that interact as a unit via biological, physical, and chemical processes. Natural ecosystems are distinguished because they are entirely natural, with no influence from human activity. One of the defining features of this ecosystem is its self-sufficiency.
A forest, for example, contains both herbivores and carnivores. Herbivores eat plants such as grass, fruits, and seeds. Carnivores then devour them. When carnivores die, their bodies disintegrate into the soil, providing critical nutrients that aid in the growth of trees and grass, which herbivores consume. As a result, the natural cycle continues.
Natural ecosystems are classified into two types:
- Terrestrial Ecosystem
- Aquatic Ecosystem
A. Terrestrial Ecosystem
A terrestrial ecosystem is a collection of creatures on land and the interplay of biotic and abiotic components in a specific area. Tundra, taigas, temperate deciduous woods, tropical rainforests, grasslands, and deserts are examples of terrestrial ecosystems. The terrestrial ecosystem in a particular location is determined by the temperature range, average precipitation, soil type, and amount of light received.
The open space environment imposes several traits on these ecosystems, resulting in different types of adaptation in organisms, mainly because the climate directly impacts the terrestrial environment.
The most significant fluctuations are caused by elements such as temperature, storm effects, and humidity changes. All of this contributes to organisms’ adaptability in this environment. In terrestrial ecosystems, living beings develop in a medium of air. It has a low density, is sensitive to significant variations in temperature and climatic occurrences, and regulates organism adaptability.
These ecosystems form due to the emergence of terrestrial portions, which offer unique conditions for ecosystem development. Along with providing material support, the soil also serves as a water source and nutrients for primary producers, forming its ecosystem.
Atmospheric weather impacts the open space environment or changes in conditions and elements such as temperature, rainfall, and wind. Throughout the year, the climate fluctuates substantially in terms of time, latitude, and altitude, resulting in a wide range of unique environmental combinations.
This option encourages species diversification to suit the unique needs of various terrestrial settings. Because life evolved in the ocean, organisms must adapt various adaptation tactics to the open space environment.
Various terrestrial ecosystems are based on the specific climate and the flourishing flora and fauna. Let’s have a look at the most important ones:
- Temperate forest
- Tropical Rainforest
- Moor and Savanna Grassland
The details about these particular ecosystems are mentioned below.
1. Tundra Ecosystem
This biome is home to terrestrial ecosystems situated in the northernmost latitude of the Earth and some southern areas. The climatic conditions are extreme, with temperature levels close to or below 0ºC during most of the year. There lies a permanently frozen layer of soil that limits the possibility of vegetation development, which turns into moss, lichens, and some herbaceous species.
Inter-specific interaction within and between the trophic levels influences the framework of the tundra food webs. Herbivores can exert substantial top-down effects on tundra vegetation at the regional level, but predators frequently regulate small mammal herbivores and ground-nesting reproduction rates.
The Tundra is changing significantly due to global warming, which now refers to a broader set of patterns that scientists prefer to refer to as climate change.
Animals develop a variety of adaptations to help them live in this hostile environment. In the Tundra, animals require shelter and insulation. The feathers and hair of the animals here are thicker and warmer. Many of them have larger bodies with shorter arms, legs, and tails, which aids in heat retention and prevents heat loss. To keep themselves warm, many arctic birds have two coats of feathers. Many Tundra animals have fur-lined feet to help keep them warm. Bears, marmots, and arctic squirrels are among the Tundra species that hibernate for the winter, while others will burrow (lemmings, ermine). Many Tundra insects will spend their entire lives buried in the ground.
The consequences in this region are wide-ranging and somewhat unpredictable. Animals located further south, such as the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), migrate north onto the Tundra, which means that the red fox is now vying for food and territory with the Arctic fox, and the long-term consequence on the sensitive Arctic fox is uncertain.
Other tundra dwellers, such as the wolf spider (Lycosidae spp.), are becoming larger and more numerous. Shrubs are growing higher, contributing to a drop in the sensitive groups of lichen on which caribou and other species rely for sustenance. Lakes and ponds are drying up.
Examples of Animals found in the Tundra: Polar Bear, Brown Bear, Caribou, Wolverine, Moose, Lynx, Arctic Foxes, Snowy Owl, Red Foxes, Musk Oxen, Ptarmigans, Ermine
Tundra plants have evolved in several ways. They stay small, grow close together, and are low to the ground. Many of the plants in the biome have a waxy, hairy coating that protects them from the cold and wind. This covering also aids in the retention of heat and moisture and the protection of plant seeds, allowing for reproduction. Small leaves are shared among the plants, which aid in moisture retention. In the Tundra, only the top layer of soil thaws out; underneath that is permafrost. Therefore the plants’ root systems are very shallow.
Lichens and mosses can grow on a bare rock if given enough moisture. The majority of plants in the Tundra Biome are perennials that do not die in the winter and have extensive life cycles to compensate for the short growing season.
Tundra plants include the following:
Because Tundra means “without trees,” most plants in the Tundra are low-growing. Arctic Moss, Arctic Willow, Caribou Moss, Labrador Tea, Arctic Poppy, Cotton Grass, Lichens, and Moss are some plants found in the Arctic.
There are three regions associated with Tundra:
- Arctic Tundra
- Alpine Tundra
- Antarctic Tundra
The Arctic Tundra, situated in the northern hemisphere, is the world’s the North Pole. It covers over 20% of the Earth’s surface and is located between 55° and 70° North latitude. It’s bitterly cold and one of the world’s most sparsely populated locations.
The Alpine Tundra ecosystem is located on mountaintops where it is too cold for trees to thrive, especially at high altitudes.
Because the Antarctic is substantially colder than the arctic, it is not technically classified as Tundra. The annual average temperature might be as low as -70°F (-56°C), resulting in different ecosystems.
2. Taiga Ecosystem
Taiga is the Russian term meaning forest, and it is the world’s largest biome. It encircles Eurasia and North America. The taiga biome is near the planet’s top, slightly below the Tundra. Winters in the taiga are bitterly cold, with little snowfall. Summers are hot, wet, and humid. The taiga is densely forested with coniferous trees.
The taiga, popularly known as the boreal forest, spans around 17% of the planet’s geographical mass. As a result, we can consider it the world’s largest terrestrial biome. It is in the northern hemisphere, roughly between the latitudes of 50° N and 65° N. The term “Boreal forest” refers to the biome’s southernmost region, and “taiga” refers to the biome’s northernmost region, where it transitions to Tundra.
This ecosystem is figured prominently for its coniferous (evergreen coniferous) forests and numerous freshwater bodies such as rivers, lakes, bogs, fens, and marshes. Overall, soil fertility is relatively low, implying it is unsuitable for plant growth. Most nutrients are found in the upper layer of the soil, where organic matter resides.
The soil is moderately acidic because of the disintegration of evergreen needles when they fall to the ground and disintegrate. Winters in the boreal forest are frigid, and summers are pretty warm. Temperatures typically range from 21 °C in the summer to -54 °C in the winter. Precipitation is moderate, averaging 38–85 cm per year, and droughts are uncommon.
This biome’s vegetation is adjusted to a cold environment and has little nutrition supply. Most plants possess shallow root systems that collaborate with mycorrhizal fungus to get as many nutrients as possible from the organic materials in the soil. Southern boreal woods have a dense canopy of fully grown trees, commonly known as a closed canopy forest. Some shrubs and wildflowers grow in open areas known as clearings.
3. Temperate Forest
The Temperate forest ecosystem is a vital biome on the planet. Temperate forests are areas with heavy precipitation, humidity, and a wide diversity of deciduous trees known for shedding their leaves in the winter season.
Temperate forests have a wide variety of temperatures that correspond to the seasons. Temperature varies from hot in the summer, with peaks of 21 degrees Celcius, to extremely frigid in the winter, with lows of 10 degrees Celcius. Temperate forests receive an abundance of precipitation, typically between 75cm and 150cm each year. This precipitation consists of rain and snow.
Deciduous forest trees and plants have evolved particular adaptations to thrive in this ecosystem. Every year, deciduous trees lose their leaves and regrow them. During the summer, their broad green leaves collect sunlight and assist the trees in producing food via photosynthesis.
Temperate deciduous forest animals must adjust to shifting seasons and be able to withstand harsh winters and scorching summers. To avoid the cold, several animals hibernate or migrate throughout the winter. Animals that do not hibernate or migrate must have particular adaptations to deal with increased predator vulnerability during the winter. When the leaves fall, animals in this ecosystem have less cover to hide from predators.
The black bear is a species that thrives in the temperate deciduous forest environment. To keep warm in the winter, it possesses a thick coat comprised of multiple layers of fur. Black bears have large claws that aid in tree climbing, which is an essential adaptation since black bears frequently reside in urban areas.
Due to the lack of a sophisticated number of strata and the fact that the vegetation is seasonal, temperate rainforest biomes contain extremely few mammals compared to tropical rainforest biomes. During the summer, winged seeds and long-lasting wall nuts are prevalent among the ecosystem’s animal species. Fruits from rose trees, apple trees, gooseberries, Hawthorne, and other trees usually always ripen simultaneously (late summer) and are primarily utilized for fat storage.
In temperate rainforest biomes, there is a tremendous diversity of species. Frogs, turtles, insects, birds, spiders, and salamanders are among the animal species found here. This biome is home to cardinals, broad-winged hawks, pleated woodpeckers, and snowy owls. Porcupines, Raccoons, red foxes, opossums, white-tailed deer, etc., are among the mammals found in this biome.
4. Tropical Rainforest
All tropical rainforests share similar climatic conditions, precipitation, canopy structure, intricate symbiotic connections, and an incredible diversity of species. However, when compared by location or realm, not every tropical rainforest can claim the same precise features, and there are rarely obvious defining borders. Many may blend in with neighboring mangrove forests, wet forests, mountain forests, or tropical deciduous forests.
Temperature levels in these regions range from 20°C to 25°C daily. Tropical Rainforests receive the most rain of any biome in a single year. Rainfall ranges from 200 cm to 1000 cm each year on average.
Rainforests are referred to as “cradles of diversity.” Despite covering less than 5% of the Earth’s surface, they reproduce and support 50% of all living species. When it comes to species diversity, the value of rainforest is inconceivable.
Tropical rainforests are estimated to have covered up to 14% of the Earth’s land surface just a few thousand years ago. Today, it is estimated that these forests span less than 6% of the Earth’s land. More crucially, two-thirds of the world’s tropical rainforests are fragmented.
Tropical Rainforest is the world’s most ecologically diverse terrestrial ecosystem; the Amazon rainforest being the biggest. According to National Geographic, Around 40,000 plant species, approximately 1,300 bird species, 3,000 fish species, 427 animal species, and 2.5 million insect species call it home.
World Atlas reports Tropical rainforests are rich in biodiversity, with nearly 40% to 75% of all species on the planet living there. The jaguar, tapir, okapi, boa constrictor, African gray parrot, keel-billed toucan, crowned eagle, three-toed sloth, spider monkey, giant flying fox, king colobus, and other animals inhabit these jungles. The numerous strata of the tropical rainforest and some of the species that live in them are discussed in this article.
5. Moor and Savanna
A savanna, sometimes known as savannah, is a mixed woodland-grassland habitat distinguished by sufficiently spread trees such that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows enough light to touch the ground to sustain an uninterrupted herbaceous layer dominated by grasses.
Savannas are also distinguished by seasonal water availability. Most rainfall occurs during a single season; they are related to various biomes and are typically found in a transitional zone between forest and desert or grassland. Savanna spreads over 65% of Africa. Savannas cover roughly 20% of the Earth’s land surface.
Savannas grow in tropical regions 15° north to 30° south of the Equator. Temperatures rise from warm to hot throughout the year, although significant rainfall occurs only for a few months. The average annual rainfall varies from 80 to 150 cm (31 to 59 inches), yet it can be as low as 50 cm in some central continental areas (20 inches).
The dry season is generally longer than the wet season; however, it can range from 2 to 11 months. The average monthly temperature ranges between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius (50 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit) in the dry season and 20 and 30 degrees Celsius (68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the wet season.
Savanna biotas exhibit their derivation from regional biotas; thus, species vary among regions. Unlike those of Africa and Australia, the savannas of Asia and tropical America are best thought of as shrunken rainforests, with native biotas that have strong connections with those in wetter ecosystems nearer the Equator in the same regions. Trees in those savannas are often deciduous, with leaves that fall throughout the dry season. The African savanna biota is primarily a grassland collection of plants and animals with scattered trees.
- The savanna biome is South Africa’s most enormous, comprising 34.3 percent of the country (about 435 000 km2). It is made up of grasses, trees, and bushes. Savanna includes shrubland, bushveld, and woodland.
- The Kalahari in the north-west, the Lowveld in the north-east, and the KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape lowlands are all part of the savanna. It spreads from sea level to roughly 2000 meters above sea level.
- There are a lot of fires. After a fire, most plants can resprout.
- The Savanna Biome is home to around 5700 plant species. They include grasses (such as Rooigras) and trees like the Baobab, Mopane, Camel Thorn, and Knob Thorn.
- The Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Elephant, Giraffe, Plains Zebra, and countless birds are all found in the Savanna Biome. This region contains large game reserves such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Kruger National Park.
- In South Africa, the Savanna Biome is the epicenter of wildlife tourism and meat production (game, cattle, and goats).
6. Desert Ecosystem
Earth has an atmosphere, ecology, and a variety of land formations that are required for survival. Hence life is viable on only this planet of the entire solar system. Water covers 70% of the Earth, while land covers 30%. Deserts cover one-fifth of the Earth’s surface. Every continent on the planet contains a desert, and each one has its ecology, known as the Desert ecosystem.
Aridity is a characteristic shared by all deserts on the planet. Aridity refers to a lack of moisture or dryness. Deserts receive relatively little rainfall, resulting in aridity.
One of the significant characteristics of deserts is their lack of precipitation, which is also the cause of their dryness. Rainfall in deserts is seasonal and only lasts for a short time. A desert receives only 25-30 centimeters of yearly rainfall each year.
Temperatures are extreme. During the day and night, desert habitats face severe temperatures. The days are scorching hot, and the evenings can be bitterly chilly. It is the only feature of all desert ecosystems, whether hot or cold that they all lack precipitation.
In a desert ecosystem, wind velocity is usually very high, so deserts are subjected to high-intensity sandstorms/dust storms, resulting in massive dunes production. There is water scarcity due to less rainfall. Due to a lack of water, deserts are forced to endure drought for half of the year.
Humidity is relatively low during the daytime and comparatively high at night in a desert habitat. Deserts are arid areas where well-adapted flora and animals thrive. The main types of deserts include:
- Hot and dry deserts
- Semi-arid deserts
- Coastal deserts
- Cold deserts
Hot and dry deserts
These desert ecosystems feature hot and dry climatic conditions in the air and very little yearly rainfall. Central America, South Asia, North America, Africa, and Australia are all home to the hot desert habitat. Temperature swings are considerable, and the soil is hard and harsh.
This ecosystem is related to the Hot and Dry desert habitat. Rugged rocks, firm ground, and fewer dunes characterize this environment. The climate is not very hot and dry as it is in a desert ecosystem. The Great Basin ecology is a semi-arid desert ecosystem. Compared to a typical desert habitat, it receives a lot of rain.
The Atacama Desert located in Chile and the Namib Desert in Africa are good examples of Coastal desert ecosystems. Desert habitats like these are located near the coasts of large bodies of water like oceans and seas and are often influenced by ocean currents. Winter fog is frequent in this area. Because they are more friendly than other desert ecosystems, they have a greater diversity of plants and fauna.
This desert habitat receives a lot of rain in the winters and less in the summers and has cold winters with snowfall. The summer season in this part of the world is short, hot, and humid. Snow dunes commonly cover these areas. Greenland, Antarctica, and the Nearctic region all have desert ecosystems.
The desert ecosystem is the driest ecosystem on the planet, explaining why it has more miniature plants and biological diversity. It is an essential component of the terrestrial ecology where the desert plants and animals have perfected the skill of surviving in hostile environments. Rainfall and precipitation are almost non-existent in a desert ecosystem.
In a nutshell, a desert ecosystem is a population of living and non-living creatures that coexist and interact in what appears to be an abandoned habitat. A desert ecosystem results from the interaction of the environment’s biotic and abiotic components.
It is commonly seen as a waste and unproductive terrain. Though the literal definition of a desert (Desertus-Latin term) is waste, the truth is that a desert ecosystem, like other ecosystems, is an essential element of the world. They are a component of the Earth and contribute to maintaining a balance, despite being dry, receiving less rainfall, and having less biodiversity.
- The desert ecosystem is home to many plant and animal species. These plants have evolved to live in harsh conditions.
- It’s also significant because the bacteria in the sand operate as a carbon sink by storing carbon dioxide gas and preventing it from entering the atmosphere.
- Minerals, natural gas, and oil are abundant in this habitat. Also, look for strategies to save natural resources to protect the environment.
- Commonly, the desert habitat is used to produce salt.
- This type of environment is excellent for the preservation of historical artifacts. As a result, deserts play an essential role in archaeological discoveries.
- Deserts have unusual scenery and oasis, and people from all over the world are drawn to such natural formations because of their aesthetic splendor. As a result, deserts are popular tourist destinations.
- Sands in the desert can serve as a carbon sink. Scientists discovered that Cyanobacteria prevalent in Africa’s Kalahari desert aid in storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Overall, it is a vital aspect of the Earth that benefits plants, animals, humans, and the planet’s ecology. We must remember that while a desert ecosystem is parched and dry, it is alive with life and beauty.
7. Mountain Ecosystem
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) states that Mountains cover 24% of the total area on the planet. They are habitat to 12% of the world’s population, while another 14% of the population lives in close vicinity to them. They supply necessary commodities and services to a large section of humanity, particularly freshwater. Mountains are significant places of traditional ecological knowledge and critical biological and cultural diversity centers, and they influence climate on many scales. In other words, they supply a variety of ecological services worldwide.
The climate and ecosystems of mountains differ depending on altitude, landforms, biomes, bodies of water surrounding the mountain, and proximity to the Equator. Mountainous locations have several traits despite the diversity in climate, weather, and indigenous life. These characteristics include fast changes in weather and creatures, biodiversity, and fragility.
Every mountain ecosystems share the feature of high altitude, which rise swiftly from the surrounding landscape. Any rough gradient rising above 5,000 feet is considered mountainous terrain. The slope of a mountain distinguishes it from a plateau. While they are at elevations of 5,000 feet or more, they lack the severe rise of a mountainous landform.
Mountain animals must fight for survival every day against harsh climate circumstances. Yak, Brown bear, alpine cough, lammergeier, Tibetan sand fox, Chiru, Kiang, Tibetan Gazelle, Himalayan Marmot, and tahr are among the most prevalent animal species in the mountain habitat.
B. Aquatic Ecosystem
An aquatic ecosystem is a water-based habitat in which living species interact with both the physical and chemical characteristics of the environment. Aquatic organisms are living species whose food, shelter, reproduction, and other critical functions rely on a water-based habitat.
Aquatic ecosystems encompass more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and are found in a watery setting (aquatic environment). Bogs, Lakes, ponds, rivers, estuaries, and the open ocean are examples of aquatic ecosystems.
Water is essential in managing global-scale ecosystem processes in aquatic systems because it connects the atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere by moving material and allowing chemical reactions.
Water has distinct physicochemical properties that represent the quality of the water body. An aquatic ecosystem’s physicochemical properties dictate how well it functions and how long it can support living forms.
Sediments in aquatic environments are analogous to the soil in terrestrial ecosystems in that they provide substrate, nutrients, and a habitat for live aquatic resources. Sediments play an essential role in environmental food cycles and the two water quality dynamics.
The following points highlight critical elements of the aquatic ecosystem:
- They can be made with either freshwater or saltwater
- They are home to a wide range of aquatic species
- Algae and corals form up the majority of the vegetation
- They have a high level of biological diversity, making them the most prolific and prosperous ecosystems on the planet
- They, among other things, help control the hydrological cycle and act as a pollution filter.
There are two types of aquatic ecosystems. The salinity (saltiness) of the water in the environment is the primary distinction between these two types of aquatic ecosystems. The salt level in water significantly impacts the types of species that can live in a given aquatic environment.
There are two major categories of aquatic ecosystems, namely:
- Marine Ecosystem
- Freshwater Ecosystem
1. Marine ecosystems
Marine ecosystems are located in oceans and seas worldwide, and they provide habitat for a diverse range of specialized creatures, from microscopic plankton to massive whales. The great majority of aquatic ecosystems contain marine water (saltwater). Water depth, temperature, and light availability all significantly impact marine ecosystems.
Scientists classify marine ecosystems into several major groups, though there are differences depending on the source of what constitutes a marine ecosystem.
The number of marine ecosystems is a contentious issue. Although considerable debate exists, numerous marine ecosystems are widely accepted: estuaries, salt marshes, mangrove forests, coral reefs, the open ocean, and the deep sea.
With an average depth of roughly 4000 meters, the marine ecosystem encompasses 72 percent of the Earth’s surface. Rivers of freshwater finally empty into the sea. At different depths of the water or ocean, different species live.
The marine ecosystem plays a vital role in environmental preservation. Water plants, for example, assist in reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere in the same way that land plants do. Aquatic plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release it back into the atmosphere.
The marine environment is a nice blend of biotic and abiotic components that rely on one another for survival. It is a fascinating aspect of the environment that will pique your interest once you become acquainted.
- Marine Estuary Ecosystem
- Coral Reefs Ecosystem
- Open Marine Ecosystem
- Deep Marine Ecosystem
- Saltwater Wetland Marine Ecosystem,
- Marine Ecosystem of Mangroves
- Sandy Beach Marine Ecosystem
- Kelp Forest Marine Ecosystem
- Polar Marine Ecosystem
- Rocky Marine Ecosystem
Marine Estuary Ecosystem
An estuary marine ecosystem is near a river’s mouth, where it joins with seawater. This ecosystem’s salinity varies with the tides. The estuary ecology cannot support a diverse range of species.
The Estuary maritime ecosystem contains most of the species from the neighboring ecosystem. This habitat also functions as a nursery for numerous fish, shrimp, and other animals.
Coral reefs are marine habitats that we can find on the seafloor. This ecosystem is usually found in tropical waters and is one of the most prolific ecosystems. Coral reefs have a skeleton comprised of limestone or calcium carbonate.
Almost one-fourth of marine water species rely on the coral reef ecosystem for food and refuge. Coral reefs attract unique color fishes such as sponges, snails, seahorses, and occasionally giant animals like sharks and dolphins.
Open Marine Ecosystem
The open water surface is the first image that comes to mind when thinking of marine ecology. This open sea surface is the marine ecosystem; it is the ocean’s upper layer where sunlight may easily reach.
The open marine habitat is up to 150 meters beneath the ocean’s surface. Plankton, algae, whales, jellyfish, and other water species live in the open marine ecosystem.
Deep-Sea Marine Ecosystem
The deep-sea marine ecosystem is the ecology that exists deep within the waters at the ocean’s floor. Deep-sea marine habitat with numerous animal species inhabiting the seabed up to 1000 meters underwater.
Sunlight is one of the most challenging things to penetrate at the seafloor, yet, the species have adapted to this region’s marine habitat. Deep-sea marine habitats are home to various animal species, including squids, fishes, elephant seals, sperm whales, crabs, worms, and certain sharks.
Saltwater Wetland Marine Ecosystem
The saltwater wetland ecosystem includes the coastal areas of oceans and seas. Again, the saltwater wetland marine habitat is divided into two types: saltwater swamps and salt marshes.
Saltwater swamps are dominated by trees, whereas grasses dominate salt marshes. Amphibians, reptiles, some migratory birds, shellfishes, a few fishes, and other water species are commonly found in saltwater wetland ecosystems.
Marine Ecosystem of Mangroves
A mangrove is a form of saltwater wetland found in several tropical and subtropical coastal regions. Mangrove swamps are home to various trees that may thrive in a saltwater environment.
These mangroves are distinguished by specialized roots that absorb oxygen to survive. The roots have grown above the water’s surface. Shrimp, jellyfish, birds, sponges, crabs, fish, crocodiles, and other animals find refuge in the mangrove habitat.
Sandy Beach Ecosystem
Sandy’s environment ranks low compared to other marine ecosystems in terms of biodiversity. The ecology on a sandy beach differs significantly. The organisms found in the sandy beach ecosystem, on the other hand, are well suited to a continually changing environment.
Sea turtles, sea lions, seals, algae, plankton, invertebrates like snails, crabs, clams, and so on, as well as birds like plovers, willets, gulls, terns, ruddy turnstones, and curlews, have all found a home in the sandy beach ecosystem.
Kelp Forest Marine Ecosystem
The kelp forest ecology is located in relatively chilly water. This ecosystem’s average temperature ranges from 42 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with depths ranging from 60 to 90 feet.
The kelp forest environment is home to various animal species, including seabirds, shorebirds, invertebrates (such as crabs, sea stars, and snails), fishes, and mammals (such as sea lions, seals, whales, and sea otters).
Polar Marine Ecosystem
Because the environment in the Polar Regions is exceedingly cold, the temperature of this type of marine habitat is also frigid. The species found in the arctic marine ecosystem have adapted to the region’s harsh climatic circumstances.
Planktons, algae, and birds such as penguins, polar bears, seals, and walruses are among the most prevalent species found in the polar marine ecosystem.
Rocky Marine Ecosystem
Rock coastlines, rock cliffs, boulders, tide pools, and other features form rocky marine environments. Lichens, birds, and invertebrates (lobsters, urchins, barnacles, sea stars, sea squirts, seals, and so on) make up the biodiversity of rocky maritime ecosystems.
The marine ecosystem is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that supports many plants and animal life. Compared to other ecosystems, these species provide an exceptional example of a great food chain.
2. Freshwater ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems are distinguished by non-saline water (water without salt). Freshwater ecosystems such as rivers and lakes comprise less than 1% of the Earth’s surface yet are home to many fragile plant and animal species, including 41% of all fish species.
A freshwater ecosystem is a subset of aquatic ecosystems on Earth. Examples are lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, springs, bogs, and wetlands. They differ from marine habitats, which have a higher salt content. Freshwater is described as having a low salt concentration-often less than 1%. Plants and animals in freshwater environments are adapted to low salt concentrations and would perish in locations with high salt concentrations.
Freshwater ecosystems are classified into three types:
- Lentic Ecosystem
- Lotic Ecosystem
- Wetlands Ecosystem
Lentic (slow-flowing water, such as pools, ponds, and lakes)
The Lentic Freshwater Environment is an aquatic ecosystem found in stagnant or still water, such as ponds and lakes. Lentic ecosystems range from a few square meters to thousands of square kilometers.
Some ponds, such as sessile pools, are only active for a few months. Lakes, on the other hand, can exist for a long time. The lentic habitat, which includes ponds and lakes, supports a small number of species.
This type of ecosystem is further classified into three zones based on depth and distance from the shoreline:
- Littoral Ecosystem
- Limnetic Ecosystem
- Profounda Ecosystem
This region is the highest zone near the shoreline of a pond or lake. A shallow and warm lentic ecology distinguishes the Littoral zone. This zone is home to various algae, aquatic plants, clams, crabs, amphibians, snails, and insects, among other things. Like ducks and turtles, other species feed on flora and fauna in the littoral zone.
The limnetic zone is the open water zone where sunlight helps the photosynthetic process. It is also known as the photic zone. It is the region of a lentic ecosystem dominated by planktons (both phytoplankton and zooplankton). Because planktons are the primary producers, the limnetic zone is crucial to the food web of a freshwater ecosystem.
A profundal or aphotic zone is a deepwater zone where sunlight barely penetrates. Due to a lack of sunshine, photosynthesis is not possible in this zone. In comparison to the other two zones, the aphotic zone is frigid. Because they eat dead species, the aquatic animals in the profundal zone are heterotrophs in nature.
Lotic (rapid moving water, such as streams and rivers)
A lotic aquatic ecosystem is defined as water bodies flowing in one direction. Lotic ecosystems are commonly found in rivers and streams. Many rivers and streams run from their source and eventually meet other water channels or oceans at their mouth. Lotic waters flow through various areas from their source to their mouth.
Wetlands (sites where the soil is saturated or inundated for at least part of the time)
Wetlands are bodies of water that sustain aquatic plants. Wetlands include marshes, swamps, and bogs. Hydrophytes are plant species that have adapted to highly damp and humid occasions. Cattails, pond lilies, sedges, tamarack, and black spruce are among such plants.
Gum trees and Cypress are also seen in marsh flora. Wetlands have the most remarkable diversity of species of any habitat. Wetlands are home to amphibians, reptiles, birds (including ducks and waders), and furbearers.
Wetlands are not considered freshwater habitats because some, such as salt marshes, contain high salt concentrations – these support a variety of animal species, including shrimp, shellfish, and diverse grasses.
These ecosystems are responsible for supporting the web of life on this planet. The Sun provides energy, and one species’ waste becomes another species’ food. The flow of matter creates an equilibrium in ecosystems. Humans rely on ecosystems to meet their basic needs and recycle waste like all other living things.
Healthy ecosystems are fundamental for people, animals, and plants. Our daily lives and indulgences would be impossible without their services and resources. “A Sand County Almanac,” a book by ecologist Aldo Leopold, states, “We mistreat the Earth because we see it as personal property. We may begin to treat the land with love and respect if we consider it a community to which we belong.”
As we celebrate 47th World Environment Day with the theme of “Ecosystem Restoration,” we hope to reset our relationship with the ecosystem. Planting trees, greening cities, cleaning up rivers and beaches, and rewilding gardens are just a few actions that can help restore the ecosystem. The ongoing pandemic has reminded humanity of the damage we have done to nature and the importance of environmental protection.
Restoration helps us enhance our relationship with the ecosystems we rely on and become active members of the communities that promote our region’s natural environment.
(Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)