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Major Ecosystem Types and Biomes

An ecosystem consists of the biological community that occurs in some locale, and the physical and chemical factors that make up its non-living or abiotic environment. There are many examples of ecosystems -- a pond, a forest, grassland . The study of ecosystems mainly consists of the study of certain processes that link the living, or biotic, components to the non-living, or abiotic, components.

Components of an Ecosystem
ABIOTIC COMPONENTS Sunlight Temperature Precipitation Water or moisture Soil etc. BIOTIC COMPONENTS Primary producers Herbivores Carnivores Omnivores Detritivores etc. All of these vary over space/time

Processes of Ecosystems

Different Kinds Of Ecosystem

There are basically two types of ecosystems; Terrestrial and Aquatic. All other sub-ecosystems fall under these two. Terrestrial ecosystems Terrestrial ecosystems are found everywhere apart from water bodies. They are broadly classified into:


Tropical evergreen forest: Tropical forests which receive an average rainfall of 80 to 400 inches in a year. These forests are marked by dense vegetation comprising of tall trees with different levels. Each level gives shelter to different kinds of animals. Tropical deciduous forest: Dense bushes and shrubs rule here along with broad levels of trees. This type of forests is found in many parts of the world and large variety of flora and fauna are found here.

Temperate evergreen forest: These have very few number of trees but ferns and mosses make up fro them. Trees have spiked leaves to minimize transpiration. Temperate deciduous forest: This forest is found in the moist temperate regions with sufficient rainfall. Winters and summers are well defined and with trees shedding their leaves during winter. Taiga: Situated just south of the arctic regions, Taiga is distinguished by evergreen conifers. While the temperature is subzero for almost six months, the rest of the year it is buzzing with insects and migratory birds.

The Desert Ecosystem Desert ecosystems are found in regions receiving an annual rainfall of less than 25cm. They occupy around 17 percent of all land on the planet. Due to very high temperature, intense sunlight and low water availability, flora and fauna are very poorly developed and scarce. Vegetation is mainly bushes, shrubs, few grasses and rarely trees. Leaves and stems of these plants are modified to conserve water .


The Grassland Ecosystem Grasslands are found in both temperate and tropical regions of the world but the ecosystems are slightly varying. This area mainly comprises of grasses with very little amount of shrubs and trees. Main vegetation is grasses, legumes and plants belonging to composite family. Many grazing animals, herbivores and insectivores are found in grasslands

Savanna: These tropical grasslands are seasonally dry with few individual trees. They support large number of grazers and predators. 2. Prairies: This is temperate grassland. It is completely devoid of trees and large shrubs. Prairies can be categorized as tall grass, mixed grass and short grass prairie.

Windswept expanses where nothing stands taller than grasses and sedges. Average temperature is -5C.
Water is held as ice for most of the year; growing season is from May to August Plant growth is inhibited Decomposition and nutrient cycling is very slow; soils are rich in organic matter Each year, only the top meter defrosts, below that the ground remains frozen year round Permafrost

The Mountain Ecosystem Mountain lands provide a scattered but diverse array of habitats in which a large range of plants and animals are found. At higher altitudes harsh environmental conditions generally prevail, and only treeless alpine vegetation is found. The animals living here have thick fur coats fro prevention from cold and hibernate in winter months. Lower slopes commonly are covered by coniferous forests.

Aquatic Ecosystems An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem located in a body of water. It comprises aquatic fauna, flora and the properties of water too. There are two types of aquatic ecosystems, Marine and freshwater. The Marine Ecosystem Marine ecosystems are the largest ecosystems with coverage of nearly 71% of the Earth's surface and containing 97% of the planet's water. The water in Marine ecosystems has salts and minerals dissolved in them in high amounts.

The Freshwater Ecosystem In contrast to the Marine ecosystem, freshwater ecosystems only cover 0.8% of the Earth's surface and contain 0.009% of its total water. There are three basic types of freshwater ecosystems: Lentic: Still or slow-moving water like pools, ponds, and lakes. Lotic: Fast-moving water like streams and rivers. Wetlands: Places where the soil is saturated for at least some time

The Earth System

Key Concept
Earth is a complex system made up of many smaller systems through which matter and energy are continuously cycled.

Earth: An overview Water covers about 71% of Earths surface. 4 main spheres
Hydrosphere (hydro=water) Biosphere (bio=life) Atmosphere (gas, air) Geosphere (geo=Earth)

Layers of the Geosphere

What is the geosphere? Solid, rock part of Earth Has layers: compositional & physical

What are the compositional layers?

3 compositional layers
Crust thin and solid outermost layer of Earth above the mantle Mantle the layer of rock between Earths crust and core Core central part of Earth; made of iron and nickel

Compositional and Physical Layers of the Geosphere

Layers of the Atmosphere

What is the atmosphere?

Mixture of gases that surround Earth

What are the layers in the atmosphere?

4 layers: Troposphere layer in which we live; Weather phenomena (clouds) occur here. Stratosphere above troposphere; temperatures increase with altitude.

What are the layers in the atmosphere? (cont)

Mesosphere coldest layer of atmosphere Thermosphere uppermost layer; temperatures also increases with altitude.

How does energy flow in the atmosphere?

Energy from the sun hits Earth in the form of radiation Solar radiation heats Earths surface unevenly Uneven heating causes air in the atmosphere to move called convection

What is the hydrosphere?

The water in, on, and surrounding Earth. Ex) oceans, lakes, rivers, glaciers, clouds, rain, snow

What is the global ocean?

Covers 335 million sq. km. Holds most of Earths water, 97% Contains salt; cannot be used as drinking water

How does energy flow in the ocean?

Temperature of water varies because sun heats surface unevenly. (warm near equator; cold near poles) Differences in temperature & salt content = differences in density; called convection current

Why is this important for life?

What is the biosphere?

Area of Earth where life is found. Includes: Earths surface, lower part of atmosphere, most of hydrosphere

What are the factors necessary for life?

Liquid Water & Suitable habitat Moderate temperatures Stable source of energy ex) sun

How does energy and matter flow in the hydrosphere?

Energy enters as sunlight. Think of the energy pyramid

Plants change sunlight to energy through photosynthesis Energy is passed to consumers (herbivores) that eat the plants and consumers (carnivores and omnivores) that eat each other.

How does energy and matter flow in the hydrosphere?

Dead organisms are consumed by decomposers such as bacteria and fungi. They break down remains into simple materials to be later used by plants during photosynthesis.

How is this aquarium like Earths four spheres?

Air at top = atmosphere

Water = hydrosphere

Fish = Biosphere

Rocks = Geosphere

Atmospheric gases & enhanced greenhouse effect

Greenhouse effect A natural process that creates moderate temperatures on earth to which life has adapted. Earth is about 30oC warmer than it would be without any greenhouse gases in the environment. This is needed to sustain life on earth.

Enhanced greenhouse effect The concern that the activities of humans may be increasing the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (methane, oxides of nitrogen) in the atmosphere. This may lead to increased global temperatures and climate change.

Increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will increase particles in atmosphere More infra-red will be absorbed, scattered and retained as heat Average global temperature will rise

Greenhouse gases and their sources

GREENHOUSE GAS Carbon dioxide (CO2) Methane (CH4) Nitrous oxide (N2O) Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs 11 and 12) SOURCE
Fossil fuels, deforestation, soil destruction Cattle, biomass, rice paddies, gas leaks, mining, termites Fossil fuels, soil cultivation, deforestation Refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosols, foam blowing, solvents Photochemical processes, cars, power plants, solvents

LIFE SPAN IN ATMOSPHERE 500 years 7-10 years 140-190 years

65-110 years

Ozone and other trace gases

Hours to days in upper troposphere