Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Classifying Ecosystem Components

by Antonio C. Antonio
May 27, 2014

There are two key components in an ecosystem which are biotic and abiotic.  Abiotic or non-living components are made of chemicals and geophysical things like water, air, temperature and precipitation.  On the other hand, biotic or living components include all living creatures like plants and animals.  The basic difference between biotic and abiotic components is life itself and the ability of biotic components to grow.  These biotic and abiotic components, in varying degrees, interact and interrelate to each other.  It is also widely believed that they cannot stand alone without the other.  This makes it a daunting task to re-classify or re-group them if their importance and linkage to one another is taken into consideration.

In my mind, the most practical and purpose-focused way of grouping similar ecosystem components should be on the basis of their contribution to human welfare.  This may sound selfish but that is just how things are… humans have managed to stay on top of the food chain because we simply consider ourselves first before anything else.  It will be a need-based approach.  Classifying these ecosystems as (a) critically needed, (b) needed, and (c) less needed.  This classification can now be used in the management of the ecosystem especially in the aspect of priority setting.  As in any sound practice of management, corresponding resources (financial, equipment, man hours, etc.) are first given to the identified “critically needed” components before the “needed” and “less needed” components (in their order of priority) are considered. 

The classifications “critically needed”, “needed” and “less needed” are just nomenclature.  More important to simple wordplay (choosing descriptive words) or labelling is the process by which the ecosystem components are actually classified and grouped together.  Unfortunately, it may be a hard bargain for me to even suggest a way of grouping or classifying similar ecosystem components.  Even experts argue on the right procedure and methodology in getting this done.  Ironically, experts also agree that classifying ecosystems into ecologically homogenous units is the right direction towards effective ecosystem management.   However, classifying ecosystem components even on the basis of their contribution to human welfare (as I suggested), will be very hard since even the knowledgeable people have no single, agreed-upon way to accomplish this.

Just my little thoughts…

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