The ecosystem could be defined as a unit of the nature in which the biotic and abiotic components interact among themselves. We broadly classify ecosystems into two types, namely –
- Aquatic ecosystems – These include ponds, oceans, etc.
- Terrestrial ecosystems – These include grasslands, deserts, etc.
Each of the components of the ecosystems interacts together to give the basic structure and functionality to the ecosystem. However, the vertical arrangement of just the biotic components viz. the different species residing in a specific area shows that each species occupies a specific level. This process of arrangement is called stratification. It could be clearly seen on the food web. The plants occupy the bottom-most layer as they are more in number and are the producers.
The productivity of the ecosystem, decomposition of the dead, energy flow among the different strata’s and the recycling of the nutrients in the environment define the ecosystem as a functional unit.
All these factors could be observed by taking the example of an ecosystem. Let us consider the example of a forest below:
- In a forest, the plants are the primary producers. They provide food for supporting the rest of the species in the forest.
- Decomposition is carried out by various decomposers like microbes and certain birds.
- Energy flow could be clearly observed between different strata’s in the food chain or food web. The producers pass on the energy to the primary consumers and they, in turn, pass it on to the secondary consumers and so on.
- Nutrient recycling can be observed in nature along with the energy flow.
Primary production is defined by the amount of biomass produced per unit area per unit time by the process of photosynthesis. The rate at which this biomass is produced is called the productivity of the ecosystem. There are different scales at which productivity is measured, namely-
- Gross primary productivity – The rate of organic matter production during photosynthesis.
- Net primary productivity – It is the productivity obtained by eliminating the respirational losses.
Gross Primary Productivity – Respiration Loss = Net Primary Productivity.
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