An ecosystem is a unit that includes all living beings: plants, animals, organisms and non-living elements that exist within a given area, interacting with each other, and that also interact with non-living environments such as climate, earth, sun, soil, climate and atmosphere. Ecosystems are the basis of the Biosphere and determine the health of the entire earth system. In an ecosystem, each part and organism that is part of it, plays an important and crucial role for the adequate development of human and animal life.

What is an ecosystem?

An ecosystem is a community formed by all the biotic and abiotic factors that are located in a place, and that are related to each other playing an important and vital role within it.

How an ecosystem is formed

Ecosystems are formed by:

How an ecosystem works

For an ecosystem to exist and function properly, plant and animal life must be present. To do this, sun energy is necessary to sustain, support and give life to the entire ecosystem. Plants use sun’s energy to initiate energy transfer between living organisms. Plants synthesize food for the entire ecosystem through photosynthesis, and for this, it needs sunlight.

Photosynthesis refers to the process of energy production by plants. Animals, particularly herbivores and omnivores that feed on both plants and animals, consume this chemical compound by eating the leaves of plants, fruits, seeds, roots or other edible parts. Carnivores, on the other hand, are animals that are adapted to eat only meat, so they need to eat other animals in order to survive. When carnivores consume another animal, the matter and energy derived from it are converted back into energy through a continuous consumption process, and in this way, matter and energy are transferred from one living being to another until a high-level predator completes the transfer. The processes in the ecosystem could not be completed without the materials cycle and energy synthesized by plants, so both plants and animals die and become organic matter by the action of decomposers. Decomposers are those small organisms that act on non-living organic material to break it down into simpler components: nutrients, which return to the soil for plants to use and the cycle is repeated again and again.

Ecosystem characteristics

Some characteristics that represent the ecosystem are:


Ecosystems have three different parts:

Ecosystem components



Ecosystem dynamics are based on energy and mineral incorporation by autotrophic organisms, organic matter synthesis from inorganic matter and energy incorporation by photosynthesis, heterotrophic consumption, disintegration by disintegrators and organic and inorganic components transformation into mineral compounds.

Some examples

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

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