Hello down there. Can you see all these beautiful pine trees? A tree has lots of different parts that work together to keep it alive, but it wouldn't be able to survive without the ecosystem that surrounds it. I asked Ranger Wild to help me on this report today, as animals have a lot to do with the ecosystem. But I haven't heard back from any of my voice messages, so we better just get started then.
An 'eco' what now? An ecosystem, which is short for 'ecological system'! Every single living thing in a particular area is part of an ecosystem, and they all interact with each other in one way or another. An ecosystem is made up of plants, animals, and tiny little organisms working together and with their physical surroundings, like the sun, soil, atmosphere, and weather. Each thing has its own role to play in an ecosystem. For example, sunlight and nutrients in the earth help plants to grow. Animals may eat these plants to survive, and then the nutrients in their droppings can go back into the earth to help feed the plants again. How cool is that!
There are three sizes of ecosystems. The smallest is a microecosystem, which could be something like a pond or aquarium. A medium-sized ecosystem is a meso ecosystem, like a forest. A huge ecosystem that contains many different animals, plants, and bodies of water is called a biome. There are also several types of ecosystems. These include tropical rainforests, deserts, oceans, tundras (also known as really cold and harsh climates) and grasslands.
Ecosystems around the world support the health of the whole earth system, so they're very important parts of the environment. They support the flow of energy and form a kind of recycling system for carbon and nitrogen. Ecosystems are also important for human health. They help create breathable air, drinkable water, and soil that's fertile enough to grow things.
If an ecosystem is disrupted, it can be quite damaging. Natural disasters like floods, volcanoes, and fires can destroy entire ecosystems. A particular breed of non-native animal might be introduced to an ecosystem and create chaos. Or, forests and other natural environments may be destroyed, leaving animals and organisms with nowhere to live and disturbing the way the environment removes carbon dioxide from the air. That's why it's important that these delicate ecosystems be protected as much as possible!
Take a look outside at your garden or head to your nearest park – you're bound to find an ecosystem close to you. I'm off to see if I can find a pond or river nearby that I can examine.
Organism - a general term for any animal, plant or other type of life form.
Atmosphere - the collection of gases that surround Earth. Learn more about the atmosphere here.
Nutrient - something that provides the nourishment needed for good health.
Fertile - soil or land that is healthy enough to produce lots of crops.
Non-native animal - an animal that doesn’t originally come from somewhere. For example, cows are non-native to Australia.
1. Half the world’s species live in tropical rainforests.
2. By area, aquatic ecosystems make up three-quarters of all ecosystems.
3. Bees are very important parts of the ecosystem; they help pollinate plants. Almonds are 100% reliable on bee pollination to survive.
1. What is ‘ecosystem’ short for?
2. Name three types of microecosystem.
3. What is a big ecosystem called?
4. Name three things you might find in an ecosystem.
5. Give one reason why ecosystems are important for humans.
Increase your knowledge by completing these activities.