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Ecosystems: Definition, Scope and Importance!

An ecosystem is a segment of nature consisting of a community of living beings
and the physical environment both interacting and exchanging materials
between them.
The two components of nature, organisms and the environment are not only
highly complex and dynamic but also interdependent, mutually reactive and
interrelated. Ecology deals with the various principles which govern relationships
between organisms and their environment.
According to the French Zoologist, Isodore Geoffroy St. Hilaire, the term ecology
is used for the study of the relations of the organisms within the family and
society and community.
At about the same time the English naturalist, St. George Jackson Mivart coined
the term hexicology, and defined as the study of the relations which exist
between the organisms and their environment with respect to the nature of the
locality, the temperature and the amounts of light, and their relations to other
organisms as enemies, rivals, or accidental and involuntary benefactors. Thus,
ecology is literally the study of organisms and their relationship with
Scope and Importance:
Taylor (1936), in an attempt to define ecology, has very rightly pointed out that
scope of ecology by stating that ecology is the science of all the relations of
ecosystems, all organisms to all their environments.
Ecology plays an important role in agriculture crop rotation, weed control,
management of grasslands, range management forestry, biological surveys, pest
control, fishery biology, and in the conservation of soil, wildlife, forest, water
supplies, water bodies like rivers, lakes and ponds,
Ecosystem is defined as a dynamic entity composed of a biological community
and its associated abiotic environment. Often the dynamic interactions that
occur within an ecosystem are numerous and complex.
Ecosystems are also always undergoing alterations to their biotic and abiotic
components. Some of these alterations begin first with a change in the state of
one component of the ecosystem, which then cascades and sometimes amplifies
into other components because of relationships.

What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity or Biological diversity is a term that describes the variety of living
beings on earth. In short, it is described as degree of variation of life. Biological
diversity encompasses microorganism, plants, animals and ecosystems such as
coral reefs, forests, rainforests, deserts etc.
Biodiversity also refers to the number, or abundance of different species living
within a particular region. It represents the wealth of biological resources

available to us. Its all about the sustaining the natural area made up of
community of plants, animals, and other living things that is begin reduced at a
steady rate as we plan human activities that is being reduced by habitat
The United Nations designated 20112020 as the United Nations Decade on
Biodiversity. In biodiversity, each species, no matter how big or small has an
important role to play in ecosystem. Various plant and animal species depend on
each other for what each offers and these diverse species ensures natural
sustainability for all life forms. A healthy and solid biodiversity can recover itself
from variety of disasters.
Why is Biodiversity Important?
Biodiversity has a number of functions on the Earth. These are as follows:

Maintaining balance of the ecosystem: Recycling and storage of

nutrients, combating pollution, and stabilizing climate, protecting water
resources, forming and protecting soil and maintaining ecobalance.

Provision of biological resources: Provision of medicines and

pharmaceuticals, food for the human population and animals, ornamental
plants, wood products, breeding stock and diversity of species,
ecosystems and genes.

Social benefits: Recreation and tourism, cultural value and education

and research.

The role of biodiversity in the following areas will help make clear the importance
of biodiversity in human life:

Biodiversity and food: 80% of human food supply comes from 20 kinds
of plants. But humans use 40,000 species for food, clothing and shelter.
Biodiversity provides for variety of foods for the planet.

Biodiversity and human health: The shortage of drinking water is

expected to create a major global crisis. Biodiversity also plays an
important role in drug discovery and medicinal resources. Medicines from
nature account for usage by 80% of the worlds population.

Biodiversity and industry: Biological sources provide many industrial

materials. These include fiber, oil, dyes, rubber, water, timber, paper and

Biodiversity and culture: Biodiversity enhances recreational activities

like bird watching, fishing, trekking etc. It inspires musicians and artists.

Reason for Loss of Biodiversity

The earths biodiversity is in grave danger. In the present era, human beings are the most
dangerous cause of destruction of the earths biodiversity. In 2006, the terms threatened,
endangered or rare were used to describe the status of many species. The evil quartet

identified by Jared Diamond is overkill, habitat destruction, secondary extinctions and

introduced species. Factors identified by Edward Wilson are described by the acronymHIPPO standing for habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species, pollution, human
overpopulation and over-harvesting.
Habitat destruction is a major cause for biodiversity loss. Habitat loss is caused
by deforestation, overpopulation, pollution and global warming. Species which are physically
large and those living in forests or oceans are more affected by habitat reduction.
Some experts estimate that around 30% of all species on earth will be extinct by 2050.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), globally about one
third of all known species are threatened with extinction. Even it is estimated that 25% of all
mammals will be extinct within 20 years.


The word environment is derived from the french word 'environ' meaning
surroundings. Hence, everything surrounding us is called "ENVIRONMENT".
Every organism is surrounded by materials and forces that constitute its
environment. It is the environment from where every organism must derive its
requirement. The environment creates favourable conditions for the existence
and development of living organisms.
The survival of any organism requires a steady supply of materials and removal
of wate products from its environment.
The degradation of the environment has become a serious problem for the
existence of human beings. Pollution of soil, water and air causes harm to living
organisms as well as loss to valuable natural resources.
Environmental studies involves educating the people for preserving the quality of
The scope of environmental studies include:
1. Developing an awareness and sensitivity to the total environment and its

related problems
2. Motivating people for active participation in environmental protection and
3. Developing skills for active identification and development of solutions to
environmental problems
4. Imbibe and inculcate the necessity for conservation of natural resources
5. Evaluation of environmental programmes in terms of social, economic,
ecological and aesthetic factors.
In the industrialized era that we live today, every component that we intake - be
it, air, water or food are contaminated by industrial activities. THERE IS NO ZERO
POLLUTION. To minimize this problem, knowledge of environmental studies is
essential. An in-dept study of environmental studies will help us in the following
1. We will begin to appreciate and adopt the idea of "DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT
3. Playing an effective role in protecting the environment by "DEMANDING
Increasing population, Urbanization and poverty have generated pressure on the
natural resources and lead to a degradation of the environment. TO PREVENT
ordered and initiated environmental protection awareness through government
and non-government agencies to take part in protecting our environment.
Environmental pollution cannot prevented by laws alone. Public participation is
equally important with regard to environmental protection.
Environmental Education (EE) is a process of learning by giving an overall
perspective of knowledge and awareness of the environment. It sensitizes the
society about environmental issues and challenges interested individuals to
develop skills and expertise thereby providing appropriate solutions.
Climate change, loss of biodiversity, declining fisheries, ozone layer depletion,
illegal trade of endangered species, destruction of habitats, land degradation,
depleting ground water supplies, introduction of alien species, environmental
pollution, solid waste disposal, storm water and sewage disposal pose a serious
threat to ecosystems in forest, rural, urban and marine ecosystems.
Both formal and informal education on the environment will give the interested
individual the knowledge, values, skills and tools needed to face the
environmental challenges on a local and global level.
Natural resources are resources that exist without the actions of humankind.
This includes all valued characteristics such as magnetic, gravitational, and
electrical properties and forces. On earth we
include sunlight, atmosphere, water, land, air (includes all minerals) along with
all vegetation and animal life that naturally subsists upon or within the
heretofore identified characteristics and substances. [1][2][3][4]

Particular areas such as the rainforest in Fatu-Hiva are often characterized by

the biodiversity and geodiversity existent in their ecosystems. Natural resources
may be further classified in different ways. Natural resources are materials and
components (something that can be used) that can be found within the
environment. Every man-made product is composed of natural resources (at its
fundamental level). A natural resource may exist as a separate entity such as
fresh water, and air, as well as a living organism such as a fish, or it may exist in
an alternate form which must be processed to obtain the resource such as metal
ores, petroleum, and most forms of energy.
There is much debate worldwide over natural resource allocations, this is
particularly true during periods of increasing scarcity and shortages (depletion
and overconsumption of resources) but also because the exportation of natural
resources is the basis for many economies (particularly for developed countries).
Some natural resources such as sunlight and air can be found everywhere, and
are known as ubiquitous resources. However, most resources only occur in small
sporadic areas, and are referred to as localized resources. There are very few
resources that are considered inexhaustible (will not run out in foreseeable
future) these are solar radiation, geothermal energy, and air (though access to
clean air may not be). The vast majority of resources are theoretically
exhaustible, which means they have a finite quantity and can be depleted if
managed improperly.