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1.3. Structure and Function of Ecosystem

1.3. Structure and Function of Ecosystem



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A study material that aims to cover the topic "Structure and Function of Ecosystem", a fundamental topic under the subject Environmental Science
A study material that aims to cover the topic "Structure and Function of Ecosystem", a fundamental topic under the subject Environmental Science

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Published by: Rathnavel Ponnuswami on Apr 13, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Introduction to Ecology and Ecosystem
Classification of Ecosystem
Attributes of Ecosystem
Structure of Ecosystem
Function of Ecosystem
We had earlier defined ecology and ecosystem. To enhance our understanding of ecology and ecosystem, we shall have a small review of these terms.
Ecology comes from the greek words oikos (house or place where one lives) andlogos(study of). It can be surmised as the Study of the “House” in which We Live.This term was introduced by Ernst Haeckl in 1869. Ecology can be defined morespecifically as the study of the interactions between organisms and the nonlivingcomponents of their environment. ecology involves collecting information aboutorganisms and their environment, looking for patterns, and seeking to explainthese patterns.The Biosphere is composed of smaller units called ecosystems. An ecosystemincludes all the organisms and the nonliving environment that are found in aparticular place. Ecosystems can be as large or as small as we decide. Anyarea you decide to Study can be considered an Ecosystem. For example youmay choose to study your back yard, a multi storeyed apartment, a mountainrange or a forest/zoo. Any of these would be considered an Ecosystem. In anecosystem, there are various levels of organisation.The simplest level of organization in Ecosystem is that of the organism. Anorganism refers to a particular organism in an ecosystem, say cat, dog etc. Apopulation includes all the members of the same organism that live in one placeat one time. All the different populations that live in a particular area make up acommunity. The physical location of a Community is called the habitat.Ecosystem is in turn a level of organisation and has one higher level of organisation called biosphere.
The photograph on the next page derived from aforeign ecology book would clearly illustrate the various levels of organisation.
The diversity of an ecosystem is a measure of the number of different speciesthere, and how common each species is. Ecosystems are very complex. Theycan contain hundreds or even thousands of interacting species. Each organismor species in the community has a role or profession
in that community and inecology this is the organism’s niche.
An ecosystem can be classified as below
Fresh WatersMarine Waters
There are further classifications in the above chart, but for a beginner level, it isenough to concentrate on these areas. Also the study of artificial ecosystem isnot the scope of an environmental scientist. The environmentalists deal withnatural creations and management only. Moreover the system in artificialecosystem does not offer much to study. Therefore we are more interested innatural ecosystem and don’t consider artificial ecosystem
With an ecosystem comprising of large number of speices, it would seem and isimpractical to study the interaction of each organism with another, It isimpossible to approach an ecosystem by studying the individual organism –environment relationship. Therefore we study an ecosystem following anwholesome approach.We study the ecosystems by studying the two aspects (attributes) of anecosystem. They are(1) Structure or Architectural Process (2) Function or Working Process

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