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8.1. Ecosystem structure

The ecosystem

As we saw last year, a system is a set of elements that are related to each other to perform some function that they could not perform if it were not with the collaboration of the other components. Therefore, a system is made up of a series of elements that make up the parts of the system and the relationships that occur between these elements. Its operation involves an expenditure of matter and energy.

An ecosystem can be defined as the set formed by the physical environment (abiotic components, the biotope), by the organisms that live in it (biotic components, the biocenosis or community), and by the relationships that are established between all its components and the environment in which they live.

For example, the lake is a more or less transparent freshwater aquatic ecosystem, in which algae, aquatic plants, insects, worms, etc. live. The steppe is another ecosystem characterized by developing on poor and arid soils, in which plants and animals adapted to this environment live, such as thyme, rosemary, hare, lizards, etc.

Un ecosistema como el conjunto formado por el medio físico (componentes abióticos, el biotopo), por los organismos que viven en él (componentes bióticos, la biocenosis o comunidad), y por las relaciones que se establecen entre todos sus componentes y el medio en el que viven

The ecology is the science that studies ecosystems. Therefore, ecology studies the relationships of organisms with each other and with the environment in which they inhabit.

Ecosystems can have very different sizes, from the size of a decomposing log, to that of a pond, or that of a forest, an island, the ocean, or the ecosphere, which is the ecosystem that encompasses the entire planet.

Logically, ecosystems are not isolated from each other, but rather interact with the surrounding ecosystems. The transition zones between one ecosystem and another are called ecotones, and there are usually more or less abrupt changes in the biotope or biocenoses. Normally, in each ecotone there are species of fauna and flora typical of both communities, but there can also be particular organisms, alien to both.


By Lamiot (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons