What is an ecosystem?

Plants and animals depend on each other to survive.  This connection of living things to each other is called biodiversity.

An ecosystem, short for 'ecological system', includes all the living organisms existing together in a particular area .

These plants and animals within an area interact with each other and with the non-living elements of the area, such as climate, water, soil and so on.

An ecosystem can be very small, such as a puddle or an area under a large rock, or it can be vast, such as an ocean. photograph © Photos.com

The balance of an ecosystem is delicate, and a disruption such as the introduction of a new element can damage it.

For example, rabbits were introduced into Australia and upset the ecological balance. Like many small native animals, rabbits live in burrows and eat plants. They thrived in Australia and competed for food and living space, which has resulted in some native animals becoming endangered.

Scientists group ecosystems that are similar. They are called biomes.  

Biomes are large areas of the Earth that have similar weather, types of plants and animals.

One of Earth's biomes is desert.

Places where a biome overlaps another are called ecotones. In these transition areas, one type of plant gradually changes to another kind.

When we talk about the entire ecosystem of the whole planet, we call it the biosphere.


To find out more information about ecosystems go here:
http://forest.mtu.edu/kidscorner/ecosystems/definition.html

http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/kids/ecosystem.php


If you use any of this information in your own work, acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. What is an ecosystem? [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au [2009]

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