Definition of natural ecosystem

Written by ann deiterich
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Natural ecosystems make up the planet on which we live as well as the entire universe. They are dynamic and interconnected. A change in one ecosystem causes changes in others.

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Definition

According to Webster's, a natural ecosystem is "the complex of a community and its environment functioning as an ecological unit in nature." More simply, it's both living and nonliving things that interact with each other. Artificial ecosystems are man-made and imitate naturally occurring ones. Biosphere II outside Tucson, Arizona, is an extreme example of an artificial ecosystem.

Size

There is no limit to an ecosystem's size. It can range from a small puddle to the Pacific Ocean. Planet Earth can be considered a natural ecosystem, as can the entire solar system.

Components

Ecosystems have two components: biotic and abiotic. Biotic components are the living entities within the system. They include microorganisms, plants and animals. Abiotic components are made up of air, rocks, water and energy.

Species

Biotic components are broken down more specifically. The first is the species in a natural ecosystem. Species are groups of inbreeding organisms. A member of a species does not breed with organisms outside its group.

Populations

Populations make up the next scientific section of an ecosystem. Populations comprise all the individuals of a particular species in a set time and place. All the same type of microorganisms living in a puddle is a population.

Communities

Communities comprise all the populations in a set time and place. In the puddle example, the community would consist of all the various types of microorganisms living there.

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