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What are the Different Components of an Ecosystem

By Rebecca Doughty . Updated: January 16, 2017
What are the Different Components of an Ecosystem

Our whole world is filled with ecosystems, they are what create the beauty in nature. We encounter these ecosystems all the time, when we're out walking through forests or jungles, or snorkelling in our oceans looking at the coral reefs. But do we ever really consider how these systems work? What creates the abundance of life on our planet? Here at OneHowTo we're going to answer the question, what are the different components of an ecosystem?

Components of an Ecosystem

An ecosystem is a way of describing the structures and the species of organism that are present, and helps to build, a certain environment. For example, under the sea, the coral reef, fish, seaweed etc are all part of an ecosystem.

There are four main components needed for an ecosystem to exist, and they all play a role in creating and sustaining life in their environment, like a structure. The first one is...

Abiotic substances

Abiotic components consist of organic elements such as light, temperature, and soil. Organic elements also come from the waste and dead remains of animals, a bit like a compost we use on the garden. There are also elements such as carbohydrates and acids that are released into the environment through the flora and fauna living in that area which are also organic elements.

The inorganic elements that are a part of the abiotic substances in the ecosystem are gases that are released into the atmosphere through living elements of the ecosystem. These are carbon dioxide, nitrogen calcium phosphate.

Producers

Green plants, and types of algae are autotrophic organisms. They store energy from organic sources such as light to then use when necessary, which is why they are called ecosystem producers. In underwater ecosystems, algae plays an important role in keeping the environment running, just as in rain forests, the greenery plays the same part. A huge amount of energy is stored through these autotrophic organisms, which are then used as a food source for various animals, insects and other consumers, so the producers are responsible for many of the other organisms that live within their ecosystems.

What are the Different Components of an Ecosystem - Producers

Consumers

Consumers are heterotrophic organisms such as herbivores, which eat plants, and carnivores, which eat other animals. Herbivores eat the autotrophic organisms, the producers, previously mentioned. The herbivores which eat the producers, are then often eaten by the carnivores. Again, this shows how important the producers are in the ecosystem. This OneHowTo article will explain the difference between plant and animal cells, to give you more information on the different organisms within our ecosystem.

Decomposers

Another vital part of the ecosystem is the decomposition of waste and dead matter. Heterotrophic organisms, mainly fungi and bacteria, are responsible for this. Enzymes are created by the heterotrophic organisms which are then secreted into the dead or waste matter. This process creates heat and various chemicals which allows the decomposers to absorb the dead or waste matter. Without decomposers, this waste matter would build up on the grounds of various environments, and essentially prevent the other components of the ecosystem from fulfilling their roles.

Without each of the other components, the others wouldn't be able to thrive. This process demonstrates why ecosystems are one of the most impressive and efficient parts of our planet. We too, would struggle without these ecosystems which is why it is so important to help preserve and care for our planet the best we can. If you're interested in knowing how to support our environment and ecosystems, take a look at our article on how to know if something is eco friendly.

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