Ecosystem Services

An ecosystem is a group or community composed of living and non-living things and their interactions with each other. It is a dynamic complex of biotic components and abiotic components. These biotic and abiotic interactions maintain equilibrium in the ecosystem. We as humans are an integral part of it. The numerous benefits we obtain from the ecosystem are known by the term ecosystem services.

Ecosystem Services

The earth is home to millions of species.  Every organism depends on one or another organism for energy, survival, and other life processes.  This dependence of organisms on one another and their surroundings forge an interacting system called ecosystems. The interactions among different components of ecosystems are fundamental to a well-defined environment.

As a part of an ecosystem, humans derive lots of benefits from the biotic and abiotic components. These benefits are collectively termed as ecosystem services. Life and biodiversity on earth depend on these services.

Ecosystem services are classified into four types:

Provisioning Services

This includes the products/raw materials or energy outputs like food, water, medicines and other resources from ecosystems. Ecosystems are a source of food, water, medicines, wood, biofuels, etc. Also, they provide conditions for these resources to grow.

Regulating Services

This includes the services which regulate the ecological balance. For example, terrestrial environs like forest purify and regulates air quality, prevent soil erosion, and control greenhouse gases. Biotic components such as birds, rats, frogs, act as natural controllers and thus help in pest and disease control. Hence, ecosystems act as regulators.

Supporting services

Supporting services form the basis for other services. They provide habitat for different life forms, retain biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and other services for supporting life on the earth.

Cultural services

It includes tourism; provides recreational, aesthetic, cultural and spiritual services, etc. Most natural elements such as landscapes, mountains, caves, are used as a place for cultural and artistic purposes. Even a few of them are considered sacred. Moreover, ecosystems provide enormous economic benefits in the name of tourism.

The price tagging of the ecosystems and their services is quite unfeasible. Among all the ecosystem services, supporting services alone contribute about 50% and the rest of the services account for less than 10% in the same.

Also Read: Ecology

Energy Flow in Ecosystem

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