An ecosystem is the simplest entity that can sustain life. At its most basic, an ecosystem consists of several species and a fluid medium (air, water, or both); it sustains two processes, the cycling of chemical elements and the flow of energy.
Ecology: Scientific study of relationships between organisms and their environment
The living part of an ecosystem is the ecological community, which is a set of species connected by food webs and trophic levels.
A trophic level: Group of organisms with the same relative position within the food chain.
1st Trophic Level referred to as Producers or autotrophs (auto = self).are organisms which make their own food from inorganic chemicals and a source of energy.E.g. green plants blue-green algae and bacteriu
2nd Trophic Level: Consumers = Heterotrophs (hetero = other, different). Primary consumers = herbivores E.g. grasshoppers, cows Carnivore (secondary) Consumers: lynx, meadowlarks.
Omnivores: (eat plant and animals) e.g. humans, black bears.
Tertiary consumers E.g. carnivores which eat carnivores (hawks, bass)
Decomposers/scavengers: E.g. live off the dead biotic remains and wastes (earthworms, beetles).
Dominance: refers to the species that are most abundant or otherwise most important within the community.
In the hotsprings certain bacteria survive better at some temperatures than others. Therefore the springs are coloured by the dominant bacteria according to temperature
2nd Trophic: herbivores that graze upon the grasses (mice, pine borers, deer)
3rd Trophic: Carnivores (spiders, hawks [3 & 4 level]
4th Trophic: Omnivores (black bears, people)
more complex than terrestrial food webs
1st Trophic: phytoplankton live on the surface environment of the ocean. Algae.
2nd Trophic: herbivores (zooplankton: submicroscopic crustaceans)
4th Trophic: fish and marine mammals (carnivores)
The Community effect occurs because as the interactions between species are complex indirect interactions can occur.These effects would not occur if there were only direct interactions between pairs of species, without involvement of the environment or of a set of species on different trophic levels.For example, indirect interaction between species, such as the influence of sea otters on the abundance of urchins.Sea otters live upon a variety of life including sea urchins. Urchins affect the basal portion of the kelp beds. Sea otters reduce the number of sea urchinsThis prevents the destruction of the kelp beds. Kelp regulates the action of storm activity on the shoreline. Kelp system produces other micro-habitats.A species that has a large effect on its community of ecosystem. The balance of the entire system is keyed to the activities of this species; its removal or the alteration of its role within the ecosystem would change the basic nature of the community.It is often difficult to define the limits of a system or to pinpoint all the interactions that take place. Creating an artificial ecosystem requires an understanding and balancing of many complex interactions.
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