Balance in ecosystems
As we have seen, an ecosystem is made up of the set of living beings that live in it, the physical environment in which they live and the relationships established between these living beings and between them and their environment.Since all the elements are related, one depends on the other. If these relationships are disturbed, the balance in the ecosystem also changes.
The number of populations, and of individuals of each population of the ecosystem, tend to remain stable over time and are adapted to the environmental factors of that ecosystem. This balance will be maintained if there are no major changes in the ecosystem.
The ecosystem is more stable the more complex it is. If the food web is complex, it will be easier for a species to obtain food when its main food source is scarce. On the other hand, if it feeds only on another species, if it disappears, it will also disappear.
The ecosystem tends to be in a dynamic equilibrium in which they remain stable over time, when the relationships between their components are stable and allow the survival of the different populations that compose it.
The ecosystem is in equilibrium, but it is a dynamic equilibrium, since the populations that live in it are subject to continuous changes that can modify both the number of populations and individuals. The ecosystem has some mechanisms that try to counteract these changes to regain stability.
An example is the relationship between predators and their prey, which is also self-regulating.
If there is a lot of prey (food), predators eat it and reproduce. When there are many predators, the number of prey decreases and the predators have a harder time feeding, so they reproduce less. With fewer predators, the number of prey increases again. This keeps it in a stable equilibrium.
Simulator: Predator-Prey Model.
Simulator: Rabbits and wolves (rabbits and wolves).