Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Two Most Important Characteristics of Ecosystems

by Antonio C. Antonio
October 8, 2014

An ecosystem is a community of plants, animals and smaller organisms that live, feed, reproduce and interact in the same area or environment.  The physical characteristics of ecosystems are:

  1. Some ecosystems are very large in terms of land area.  Many bird species nest in one place but feed in a totally different and distant area from its nesting place.  These distant areas are considered the ecosystem of these birds.
  2. Some ecosystems are physically very small in terms of land area.  A small meadow at the edge of a forest ecosystem could be considered as a distinct ecosystem from that of the forest although both are located next to each other.
If the characteristics of ecosystems are listed, the list could be endless.  The many research materials, date and information available in the libraries or the Internet could be considered infinite.  It would be ideal therefore to narrow these characteristic to the bare minimum or to what are essential.  There are (arguably) two most unique characteristics of ecosystems; these are existence-based:

First:  ECOSYSTEMS ARE SELF-REGULATING.  Most species (flora and fauna) living within a biotic community will, as a matter and mode of survival, will try to stay within the optimum range of environmental conditions.  This means that these species will try to adjust to the ever-changing conditions in the ecosystem.  These adjustments were perfected in the long evolution of the different components living in a particular environment.  In the course of these evolutionary changes, ecosystems develop the ability and capability to self-regulate as another adaptive mechanism.  In the course of time these changes become a part of the evolving system that characterizes the ecosystem.

Second:  ECOSYSTEMS ARE SELF-PERPETUATING.  Another unique characteristic of ecosystems is the ability to propagate and reproduce.  Reproduction is a survival and perpetuating mechanism adapted by the different species of life (both flora and fauna) in the ecosystem.  In the course of time, these adaptive functions become very critical in their survival.

It is equally important to note that these adaptive and succession functions are more often caused by human intervention and activity (most especially utilization of natural resources) within the ecosystem.  Without these functions it would be safe to assume that most ecosystems have already been largely destroyed by man.  We therefore need to be thankful for the two most unique characteristics of the ecosystem.

Just my little thoughts…

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