The Web of Life (23) Ecosystems


An ecosystem is an environment with life. While ecosystem analysis emphasizes resident organisms – biota – in a biome, an ecosystem also includes the abiotic (non-living) elements within the area.

The biota in a biome invariably comprise a trophically-tiered community of energy producers and consumers. The health of a biome depends upon a balance of biota, characterized as a web of interrelations.

Geographically, the biosphere is the zone of life on Earth, bounded by space on the outside, and, on the inside, the mantle upon which the oceans and terrain ride. There are 4 elements (bioelements) of the biosphere: atmosphere (air), lithosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), and biota. With the arrival of the last bioelement – biota – the biosphere was born (biogenesis).

Each ecosystem has its own signature. There is a subtle geographic harmonic to a biome, defined at the baseline by abiotic elements, beginning with the geological and climactic characteristics of the region, which shape other bioelements. Biota are affected by the local geographic harmonic which is expressed upon them as an energetic resonance.

The relations between bioelements comprise ecology. As an academic discipline, ecology studies life’s relations as a subdiscipline of biology.

Biodiversity refers to the diversity of life at every level, from genes to ecosystems. Though commonly used as shorthand for species diversity, biodiversity also comprises the diversities of genomes, ecosystems, and ecologies.

Biodiversity is the primary factor in an ecosystem’s self-organized criticality. The greater the biodiversity, the more robust an ecosystem is. Conversely, decreasing biodiversity increases the propensity of an ecosystem to collapse under stress.

A habitat is the environment in which a specific species population lives. There are as many habitats within an ecosystem as there are species. Each habitat is characterized by the ecology of the species – that is, the various interactions a species may have during its life cycle.