Classification of ecosystem and Environmental balance
There are natural areas that contain some living organisms such as lion , elephant , deer and plants , Some non-living things such as air , soil ….etc , Each one of these natural areas is called Ecosystem , Ecosystem is any natural area including living organisms ( as plants and animals ) and non-living things ( as water , soil and air ) .
Classification of ecosystem
The components of ecosystem : Any ecosystem consists of two main components which are living organisms such as plants , fungi , algae and animals , non-living things such as air , soil and water , Ecosystems may be classified according to their sizes into :
- Small as an area of land or water pond .
- Large as a forest , a desert or an ocean .
- Very large as the universe that is considered the unified ecosystem .
There are many relationships between the components of the ecosystem as :
- The relationship between plants and the soil , where the plants depend on the soil to absorb the water and salts that are necessary to make their own food by photosynthesis process .
- The relationship between the plants and animals , where the animals feed on the plants to get food and energy .
- The relationship among different animals , where some animals feed on other animals to get food and energy .
When the relationships ( interactions ) among the components of the ecosystem are stable ( balanced ) , an environmental balance is occurred .
Environmental balance is the balance among the components of ecosystem , The interaction among environmental components is a continuous process , This interaction keeps the balance among these components unless a disturbance arises as a result of many factors .
Factors that harm ( disturb ) the environmental balance
Natural changes : Change in the natural conditions ( circumstances ) in ecosystem causes a disturbance that leads to disappearance of some organisms , appearance of other organisms , environmental imbalance that may take a short or a long period of time until a new balance occurs in this environment .
Examples : In ancient eras , change in the natural conditions of the environment leads to the disappearance of dinosaurs causing their extinction .
Man interference : Some human activities lead to the disturbance of the environmental balance , Among these human activities are cutting down trees , burning forests , Polluting the environment & Eroding the soil .
Factors that keep the environmental balance
Some food relationships help in keeping the environmental balance such as Predation , Saprophytism .
First : The effect of predation on keeping the environmental balance
Predation organizes the numbers of preys’ population , where predators help preys to get rid of weak or sick members and let the strong ones reproduce adding strong members to population .
If there were no predators in ecosystem , the environmental balance will be disturbed as number of preys will increase to an extent that the available food resources become insufficient ( not enough ) for preys , Competition appears among prey’s population , so , preys will die , because they have not shelter and become weak and feeble ( infected with diseases ) which lead to their death .
When rabbits are introduced into an island that has a suitable environment with much food and no natural enemies , The number of rabbits will increase and competition appears among them to get food , so they will die causing an environmental imbalance .
Predation relationship plays an important role in keeping the balance of ecosystem because the predation relationship organizes the numbers of preys’ population .
Second : The effect of saprophytism ( saprophytic organism ) on keeping the environment balance
The saprophytic organisms ( decomposers ) as bacteria and fungi help the environment in getting rid of the bodies of dead organisms by decomposing them , recycling the chemical elements found in the bodies of dead organisms ( as carbon , nitrogen and phosphorous ) to the environment , to make other living organisms benefit from them .
If there were no saprophytes in the ecosystem , the environmental balance will be disturbed as the Earth’s surface will be covered with the bodies of dead organisms , Chemical elements found in the bodies of dead organisms will not be recycled to the environment , so the other living organisms can not get benefit from these elements .
Man can benefit from saprophytic organisms in many industries such as :
Food industry : Some saprophytic organisms are used in making some types of food such as cheese , bread , yoghurt , vinegar and alcohol .
Drugs industry : Some saprophytic organisms are used in manufacturing some drugs ( medicines ) such as antibiotics .
Leather tanning industry : Some saprophytic organisms are used in tanning of natural leather .