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Balanced Ecosystem : Components, Factors, Importance

Aug 19, 2022
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Key Concepts

  • Ecological balance
  • Factors of balanced ecosystems
  • Importance of energy and material cycling in a balanced ecosystem
  • Role of predators and prey to maintain a balanced ecosystem
  • Impact of human activities on balance in an ecosystem
  • Invasive species

Ecosystem: An ecosystem refers to an area where both abiotic (solar energy, temperature, soil, and water) and biotic (natural plants, animals, and humans) constituents are interlinked with each other. 

Components of the ecosystem: 

An ecosystem consists of biotic components comprising living organisms and abiotic components comprising physical factors like temperature, rainfall, wind, soil, and minerals. 

  1. Biotic Components– It refers to living things of the ecosystem. It includes plants, animals, and microorganisms. 
  1. Abiotic Components– It refers to the non-living things of the ecosystem. It includes wind, water, soil, etc. 

Balanced ecosystem: Balanced ecosystems maintain a flow of materials and energy. In a balanced ecosystem, an interdependence of each factor exists. Any waste materials can be used by living animals, plants, and other organisms. 

Factors of balanced ecosystems: 

  • In a balanced ecosystem, the community of living (biotic) organisms interacts with non-living (abiotic) features in the environment. 
  • Abiotic features of ecosystems include precipitation, temperature, landscape, sunlight, soil, water chemistry, and moisture. 
  • The types of biotic factors in a balanced ecosystem include primary producers such as plants, primary consumers such as herbivores, secondary consumers such as carnivores, consumers such as omnivores that consume both plants and animals, and detritivores that eat decaying organic matter. 
  • Biotic factors rely upon abiotic factors to survive. 
  • Plants require a certain temperature, moisture, and soil chemistry to thrive. Animals rely on those plants for their food. 
  • Anything affecting any factor of an ecosystem can throw it off balance and force organisms to adapt or die off. 

Importance of ecological balance: 

  • Ecological balance ensures the stability of the organisms and environment. 
  • It creates a conducive environment for organism multiplication and thriving. 
  • It enhances a stable environment that is free from ecological imbalances such as flood, hunger caused by drought, windstorms that may wipe out everything, and over hunting of the predators. 

Importance of energy and material cycling in a balanced ecosystem 

Energy and material cycling is needed for a balanced ecosystem. Sunlight is the key source of energy in ecosystems. Photosynthesis in plants forms oxygen which animals use for respiration. Further, animals generate carbon dioxide, which plants use. 

Similarly, small organisms and microorganisms help in the decomposition of plants and animals. When the energy of the sun converts into chemical energy for photosynthesis or respiration, the result is the loss of energy as heat. Thus, the energy of the sun is essential for perpetuating the energy cycle in a balanced ecosystem. 

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Role of predators and prey to maintain a balanced ecosystem 

There needs to be a predator and prey relationship in order to maintain balance in an ecosystem. These chains are either top-down, which are predator-related, or bottom-up, which are reliant on primary producers mainly. 

Thus, if we remove a top predator, the whole food chain will be impacted. 

Human activities that affect ecological balance: 

  • Deforestation: Trees take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen to nature, which is used by us for survival. Cutting down trees for land availability due to a rise in population to bring up new industries has created an imbalance in the ecological system, resulting in a decrease in the oxygen levels in the air. 
  • Global warming: It is seen as a result of an increase in the temperature of the earth due to the greenhouse effect and related human activities. It results in the melting ice caps and, hence, rising sea levels, causing tsunamis, cyclones, and other natural disasters. 
  • Habitat destruction: Survival of wildlife is becoming difficult as their natural habitat is being cut down. Deforestation may result in the availability of land but leaves animals homeless. 
  • Urbanization: Has brought about a significant change and imbalance in our ecological system. 

Invasive species, also called introduced species, alien species, or exotic species, are non-native species that significantly modifies or disrupts the ecosystems it colonizes. 

Such species may arrive in new areas through natural migration, but they are often introduced by the activities of other species. 

Human activities, such as those involved in global commerce and the pet trade, are considered to be the most common ways invasive plants, animals, microbes, and other organisms are transported to new habitats. 

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Impact of new species in a balanced ecosystem 

  • Environmental impact 
  • Economic impact 
  • Health impact 

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