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Terrestrial and Oceanic Ecosystem- Classification, Types

Class 8
May 18, 2023

Ecosystem Dynamics Variety of Species in Terrestrial and Oceanic Ecosystems

An ecosystem is the structural and functional unit of nature. It consists of all living organisms interacting among themselves and with their surroundings. This includes both abiotic and biotic components. Abiotic components include inorganic materials such as air, water, soil, temperature, light, habitat, etc. Biotic components include plants, animals, and microorganisms.

An ecosystem varies of organisms from a small land area to a larger land area or even a sea. The two main structural features of an ecosystem are species composition and stratification. Species composition refers to the identification and enumeration of plant and animal species of an ecosystem. Stratification means the vertical distribution of different species occupying different levels in an ecosystem. The ecosystem is mainly classified into two.

  1. Natural ecosystem – Interactions between the organisms and environment. These are again classified into two.
    1. Terrestrial ecosystem – Land area comprises terrestrial ecosystem—for example: Forest, Desert, Grassland, Mountain, etc.
    2. Aquatic ecosystem – Water-based environment comprises marine ecosystem—for example: Ponds, rivers, wetlands, lakes, estuary, etc.
  1. Artificial ecosystem – The man made things are included in this. This includes dams, parks, gardens, zoos, aquariums, etc.

Terrestrial Ecosystem

The terrestrial ecosystems refer to the parts above soil or water. These ecosystems contain water but are primarily situated on land. The terrestrial ecosystem depends on many factors, such as the temperature range, type of soil, average amount of precipitation, and light,t it receives. The organisms in terrestrial ecosystems are adapted to retain water in their body by preventing water loss from the body through evaporation. They occupy almost 28.26% of Earth’s surface.

Types of Terrestrial Ecosystems

Based on the geological zones, terrestrial ecosystems are classified.

  1. Forest ecosystems – Forest covers about one-third of the land area of Earth. The interacting units of the forest ecosystem include primarily trees, soil, insects, animals, birds, and man. The forest ecosystem is composed of biotic and abiotic components. All components in this ecosystem are self-sustainable. The forest ecosystems are classified based on the rainfall and particular temperature forests receive.

Species found in forest ecosystems:

  • Small and large mammals, including rabbits, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, badgers, deer, bears, bobcats, moose, tigers, elephants, lynxes, and more.
  • Insects include mountain pine beetle, eastern spruce budworm, true bugs, spotted lanternflies, bugs, and more.
  • Reptiles include snakes, lizards, crocodiles, turtles, and tortoises.
  • Amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders, and more.
  • Birds include eastern wood-pewee, great crested flycatcher, and more.

2. Desert ecosystems – The amount of rainfall received determines the desert ecosystem. The amount of rain deserts receive yearly is less than 25 centimeters. The soil contains high mineral content but with less organic matter; hence the vegetation will be less here, and those adapted to this climate will only withstand here. Also, they have adopted a unique leaf structure to prevent water loss. Cactus, ficus, weathered trees, etc., are plant varieties found in deserts. The terrestrial environment of the desert is characterized by its large fluctuations between day and night temperatures.

  • The largest hottest desert in the world, about 50 degrees Celsius, is the Sahara desert in Africa. The size of the Sahara is comparable to that of the entire United States.

Species found in desert ecosystems:

    • Mammals include bats, quail, Bactrian camel, dromedary camel, bighorn sheep, black widow spider, rockhopper penguin, and more.
    • Insects include assassin bugs, cicadas, dragonflies, mosquitos, and wasps.
    • Reptiles include desert lizards such as desert horned lizards, desert night lizards, leopard lizards, and more.
    • Birds include the Lucifer hummingbird, Gila woodpecker, and more.

3. Grassland ecosystems– In this ecosystem, the vegetation is dominated by grasses and includes non-woody plants. There is limited annual rainfall, a dry climate throughout the year, and a lack of nutrients in the soil.

Species found in grassland ecosystems:

  • Mammals include African wild dogs, plains bison, African elephant, sunda tiger, black and white rhino, and more.
  • Birds include mountain plovers, long-billed curlew, and southern ground hornbill.
  • Reptiles include skink, grass snakes, eastern racers, and more.
  • Insects include bumble bees, crickets, butterflies, locusts, grasshoppers, and more.
Sunda Tiger



4. Tundra ecosystems– The region in which extreme cold and covered by snow for most of the year. These are found in the Arctic regions. There are no trees, the climate is cold and windy, and insufficient rainfall. Also, there is a simple vegetation structure with a short season of growth and reproduction. The biotic diversity in the tundra ecosystem is low. An example of this ecosystem is Polar regions. There are two types of tundra ecosystems: Arctic and Alpines. In the tundra ecosystem, no reptiles and amphibians can live. The other species that live here have developed unique adaptations to survive here.

Species found in tundra ecosystem:

  • Animals include polar bears, arctic hares, caribou, musk, and arctic ox birds, including snowy owls, redpolls, falcons, ravens, and more.
  • Insects include mosquitoes, moths, grasshoppers, flies, and more.

5. Taigas ecosystems – Also called boreal forest or snow forest. This ecosystem is characterized by coniferous forests consisting mainly of pines, spruces, and larches. This is called the world’s largest land biome. Here the climate is cold, harsh climate with less snow and rain. The vegetation here has a short growing season.

Species found in taigas ecosystem:

  • Various species of cisco, lake whitefish, Alaska blackfish, lenok, brook trout, etc.
  • Mammals include brown bears, moose, reindeer, wood bison, squirrel, snowshoe, mountain hares e, etc.
  • Birds include Siberian thrush, white-throated sparrow, golden eagle, grouse, crossbills, etc.
  • Insects include ants, mosquitoes, aspen leaf miners, spruce bark beetles, etc.
  • Only a few reptiles and amphibians stand at these temperatures, including red-sided garter snakes, blue-spotted salamanders, wood frogs, common European adders, and more.
Golden eagle
Wood frog

Aquatic ecosystem

The aquatic ecosystem covers more than 70% of Earth’s surface. This ecosystem is surrounded by water. Here the species depend on water for their survival. These ecosystems include oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, and estuaries. The aquatic ecosystems are broadly classified into Marine and freshwater ecosystems.

  1. Freshwater ecosystem – This ecosystem contains less salt content in water. The freshwater ecosystem includes lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, springs, wetlands, and bogs. Lentic (lakes), lotic (rivers), and wetlands are the three primary types of freshwater ecosystems.
  2. Marine ecosystem – This ecosystem has more salt content dissolved in water.

Oceanic ecosystem

The oceanic ecosystem is a part of the aquatic ecosystem, which comprises wetlands, freshwater, and saltwater. This ecosystem includes the open ocean, the deep-sea ocean, and coastal marine ecosystems.

Variety of species in the oceanic ecosystem

  • Brown algae, dinoflagellates, cephalopods, corals, sharks, and echinoderms.
Brown algae
  • Whales, dolphins, sea cucumbers, squids, octopi, and sharks live in the open ocean.
Sea cucumber
  • Frilled sharks, vampire squid, goblin, blobfish, red-lipped batfish, and humpback anglerfish are in the deep sea ocean.
Frilled shark
Goblin shark
  • Animals such as fish include sharks, swordfish, tuna, clown fish and seahorses; marine mammals include blue whales, seals, dolphins, and otters; mollusks include octopus, cuttlefish, clams, oysters, and snails in the coastal marine ecosystem.
Ecosystem Dynamics


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