The Components of an Ecosystem

Components of an Ecosystem
Components of EcosystemAn eco-system has two important aspects namely structure and functionThe function includes aspects such as rate of energy flow and nutrients, ecological regulation of environment by the organism etcFrom functional point of view all ecosystems have two basic components.

Autotrophic componentsThey fix the energy of the sun and manufacture food from simple inorganic substances such as water and carbon-dioxideThe autotrophic metabolism is greatest in the upper stratum where maximum light is availableExampleplants of all forms

Heterotrophic componentsTake food from autotrophic components, rearrange it and finally decompose the complex organic materials into simple inorganic formsIn an ecosystem, the autotrophic and heterotrophic components are arranged in layers or strata.

Types of HeterotrophsSaprophytes include those heterotrophic plants, fungi, and bacteria which live on dead matter aka decomposersHerbivores plant-eating animals, Omnivores consume both plants and meat, Carnivores meat-eating animals, Predatorsanimals which kill and consume their prey, Scavengersthose animals that feed on other animals that they have not killedAn animal that feeds on decaying matters, SaprobeAn organism that lives off of dead or decaying organic materials.

The structure includes the composition quantity and distribution of the biological and physical componentsFrom Structural point of view, ecosystem components are divided into two groups.


Abiotic componentsThese are the non-living environmentAre usually of two typesMaterialsWater, minerals, salts, atmospheric gases, Energylight, heat, stored energy in chemical bonds.

Biotic componentsThey are of four basic typesProducerThey are the autotrophic elementschiefly the green plantsThey use radiant energy from the sun in photosynthesis whereby carbon dioxide is assimilated and light energy is converted into chemical energyOxygen is evolved as by-product in the photosynthesisThis oxygen is used in respiration by all living organismsExampleAlgae, all plants.

Chemosynthetic bacteria and carotenoids bearing purple bacteria also assimilate carbon dioxide with the energy of sunlight but in the presence of organic compounds.

Primary producers and Secondary producerThe consumer animals take plants or other organic materials as food, break them down in their digestion process and produce new types of organic materials in the body of the animalsTherefore, animals are also the producers of organic materialsBased on this concept, the green plants are called Primary producer and the heterotrophic organisms are called Secondary producer.

ConsumerAll the living members of the ecosystem which consume the food synthesized by producersExampledifferent kinds of animalsHerbivores/Consumers of 1st ordergoat, cow, deer, rabbit, grasshopper all that eat green plantsThey are also called consumers of the first orderConsumers of 2nd orderThe carnivorous organisms that eat the herbivores are consumer of 2nd orderExampleA frog eats a grasshopper; a carnivore fish eats an herbivore fish etcConsumers of 3rd orderthe organisms that eat carnivores are consumer of 3rd orderExampleA snake eats a frog; a bird eats all types’ carnivorous fishTop carnivoreslike lions, tigers, vulture etcThey are not killed and eaten by other animalsThe parasites, scavengers and saprobes are also included in the group of consumersThe parasitic plants and animals utilize the living tissue of different plants and animals.



Decomposers and transformersThey are the living components of the ecosystem and they are fungi and bacteriaDecomposers attack the dead remains of producers and consumers and degrade the complex organic substances into simpler compounds.

TransformerThe simple organic matters are transformed into the inorganic forms through the activity of another kind of bacteria called transformers.

Some of the major ecosystems of the world are sea, fresh water marshes streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, deserts grasslands and forestBroadly speaking ecosystem can be divided into two major categories.

Aquatic ecosystemMarine ecosystem, Large marine ecosystem, Freshwater ecosystem, Lake Ecosystem, River ecosystem, Wet land.

Terrestrial ecosystemForest ecosystem, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Littoral zone, Riparian zone, Subsurface litho-autotrophic microbial ecosystem, Urban ecosystem, Moville Cave, Desert.
The Components of an Ecosystem The Components of an Ecosystem Reviewed by Afsar on November 19, 2017 Rating: 5

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