Types of Ecosystems: A Brief Overview

 types of ecosystemsA community of living organisms along with the non-living components of that particular environment, forming and  interacting as a system, and coexisting in a sustainable manner is known as an ecosystem. Nutrient cycles and energy flows keep these living and non-living components connected in an ecosystem. The ecosystems are not typically limited by size and can be as big as the interconnections of the different elements may permit. The sun is considered as the primary source of energy which flows in the ecosystems. This energy, in most of the cases, enters the ecosystem through plants who capture this energy through a process called photosynthesis. This energy then moves in the ecosystem through different animals, which feed on these plants or other animals. In this way the energy moves in an ecosystem and makes it sustainable.

Having some basic understanding about the biological processes of how this energy is created and consumed will help you in understanding these life cycles in a better way and this basic course about the concepts of biology will be an ideal place to start with.

The ecosystems are of many different types and are classified based on a number of factors. Here in this article, we are going to discuss all the major types of ecosystems and will try and understand on what basis these classifications are done. We will study all the different factors which differentiate the ecosystems from one another and will try and develop an understanding of these factors at an advanced level.

Basically there are two types of ecosystems, the aquatic ecosystems and the terrestrial ecosystems. All the other types which are generally used to describe ecosystems fall under one of these two categories. First of all, we are going to describe the two major types in detail. Along with these two major classifications, we are also going to study the various sud categories which fall under these two main categories.

Aquatic Ecosystem

An ecosystem which exists in a body of water is known as an aquatic ecosystem. The communities of living organisms which are dependent on each other and the aquatic surroundings of their environment for their survival exist in the aquatic ecosystems. It is very important to understand what water is and what kind of a relationship humans and the other species have had with water over the years to completely understand the aquatic ecosystems. This great course here which completely explains the relationship humans have had over the years with water will help you understand about this relation. The aquatic ecosystems are mainly of two types, the freshwater ecosystems and the marine ecosystems. Here we are going to discuss these two in detail.

  • Marine Ecosystem

Marine ecosystems are the biggest ecosystems. They cover around 71% of earth’s surface and also contain almost around 97% of the total water present on earth. High amounts of minerals and salts are generally present in the water in the marine ecosystems and to better understand the amount and composition of the different minerals and salts in the water in different marine ecosystems you can check out this very useful chemistry of the elements course which will teach you about all the different elements and will help you in better understanding the composition of different minerals and salts in water of the marine ecosystems. Many different kinds of organisms live in the marine ecosystems and some of these are the brown algae, sharks, corals etc.

  • Freshwater Ecosystem

The freshwater ecosystems are very small in magnitude as compared to the marine ecosystems as these cover only 0.8% of the earth’s surface and only account for 0.009% of the total water present on earth. There are three basic kinds of freshwater ecosystems and these are Lentic, Lotic, and Wetlands. The lentic ecosystems are slow-moving or still water like ponds or lakes. Lotic ecosystems are fast-moving water like rivers. The wetlands are those systems where soil remains saturated for a long period of time. Many different species of reptiles, amphibians, and around 41% of the world’s fish species live in these ecosystems. The faster moving waters contain more dissolved oxygen than the slow moving waters and hence support greater biodiversity.

Terrestrial Ecosystem

The ecosystem which is found only on landforms is known as the terrestrial ecosystem. The main factor which differentiates the terrestrial ecosystems from the aquatic ecosystems is the relative shortage of water in the terrestrial ecosystems and as a result the importance that water attains in these ecosystems due to its limited availability. Another factor is the better availability of light in these ecosystems as the environment is a lot cleaner in land than it is in water. The main types of terrestrial ecosystems are the forest ecosystems, the desert ecosystems, the grassland ecosystems and the mountain ecosystems. We are going to study all of these individually here in detail.

  • Forest Ecosystem

These ecosystems have an abundance of flora or plants and hence in these ecosystems a large number of organisms live in a small space. This means that these ecosystems have a high density of living organisms. The different types of forest ecosystems are tropical evergreen forest, tropical deciduous forest, temperate evergreen forest, temperate deciduous forest and taiga. Forests are a very important part of our environment and it is very important to conserve them and to create new ones if possible. Here is a course about food forest design and care which will teach you how to create a food forest which will provide equally great benefits to you as well as to the environment.

  • Desert Ecosystem

Desert ecosystems are defined as and are located in the regions which receive an annual rainfall of less than 25. Almost 17% of all the land on this planet is occupied by the desert ecosystems. The fauna and flora in these ecosystems is generally not much developed because of the high temperatures, intense sunlight and low availability of water. The main vegetation of such regions are the shrubs, bushes and a few grasses and trees. The stems and leaves of these plants are also developed in order to conserve as much water as possible. Camels, reptiles and some insects and birds are the living creatures which are found in such regions.

  • Grassland Ecosystem

The grasslands are the areas which comprise mainly of the grasses with a little number of shrubs and trees. Grazing animals, insectivores and herbivores are the main types of organisms which are found in these regions. The two major types of grasslands are the savanna and the prairies. Savanna are the tropical grasslands which are dry seasonally and have a large number of predators and grazers. Prairies are temperate grasslands which are totally devoid of large shrubs and trees. Prairies are of three different types, mixed grass, tall grass and short grass prairies.

  • Mountain Ecosystem

The mountain ecosystem is the most scattered and diverse in terms of the habitats that it provides. A large number of animals and plants are found in this ecosystem. Though the conditions at the very high altitudes can be very demanding allowing only the survival of the treeless alpine vegetation. Another important feature about these ecosystems is that the animals which live here have thick fur coats for protection against cold and generally have a long hibernation period in the winters. The slopes at lower altitudes are generally covered with coniferous forests.

Pollution of the Ecosystems and its Prevention

Here we have discussed about the different types of ecosystems and how these ecosystems are different from each other. These ecosystems are the habitats for all the living creatures on this planet and it is very important for these to remain clean and unpolluted for the living organisms to remain healthy and to keep evolving with time. But almost all the ecosystems today face the problem of pollution. This pollution degrades the ecosystems and affects the health and growth of the living organisms living in them.

Different ecosystems are affected by different types of pollution. The terrestrial ecosystem would be affected by land pollution or by air pollution and similarly an aquatic ecosystem would be affected by water pollution. To know more about water pollution you can check out this well-written article about water pollution and its types.

The pollution of the different types of ecosystems is a real problem and it cannot be avoided totally. But appropriate steps can be taken to prevent it as much as possible and to make our environment a safer place to live in. Here is a great blog post which discusses some very useful ideas for a greener planet and you should definitely try and implement as much of these as you can to play an active part in preserving and protecting our environment.