Structural components of ecosystem?

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2012-11-24 17:52:45

1. Abiotic Component

These include the non-living, physico - chemical factors such as

air, water, soil and the basic elements and compounds of the


Abiotic factors are broadly classified under three


Climatic factors which include the climatic regime and physical

factors of the environment like light, humidity, atmospheric

temperature, wind, etc.

Edaphic factors which are related to the structure and

composition of soil including its physical and chemical properties,

like soil and its types, soil profile, minerals, organic matter,

soil water, soil organisms.

Inorganic substances like water, carbon, sulphur, nitrogen,

phosphorus and so on. Organic substances like proteins, lipids,

carbohydrates, humic substances etc

2. Biotic Component

It comprises the living part of the environment, which includes

the association of a number of interrelated populations belonging

to different species in a common environment.

The populations are that of animal community, plant community

and microbial community.

Biotic community is distinguished into autotrophs, heterotrophs

and saprotrophs.

Autotrophs (Gr: auto - self, trophos - feeder) are also called

producers, convertors or transducers.

These are photosynthetic plants, generally chlorophyll bearing,

which synthesize high-energy complex organic compounds (food) from

inorganic raw materials with the help of sunlight, and the process

is referred as photosynthesis.

Autortophs form the basis of any biotic system.

In terrestrial ecosystems, the autotrophs are mainly the rooted


In aquatic ecosystems, floating plants called phytoplankton and

shallow water rooted plants called macrophytes are the dominant


Heterotrophs (Gr: heteros - other; trophs - feeder) are called

consumers, which are generally animals feeding on other


Consumer's also referred as phagotrophs (phago - to ingest or

swallow) or macroconsumers are mainly herbivores and


Herbivores are referred as First order consumers or primary

consumers, as they feed directly on plants.

For e.g., Terrestrial ecosystem consumers like cattle, deer,

rabbit, grass hopper, etc.

Aquatic ecosystem consumers like protozoans, crustaceans,


Carnivores are animals, which feed or prey upon other


Primary carnivores or Second order consumers include the animals

which feed on the herbivorous animals.

For e.g., fox, frog, predatory birds, smaller fishes, snakes,


Secondary carnivores or Third order consumers include the

animals, which feed on the primary carnivores.

For e.g., wolf, peacock, owl, etc.

Secondary carnivores are preyed upon by some larger


Tertiary carnivores or Quaternary consumers include the animals,

which feed on the secondary carnivores.

For e.g., lion, tiger, etc.

These are not eaten by any other animals.

The larger carnivores, which cannot be preyed upon further are

called top carnivores.

Saprotrophs (Gr: sapros - rotten; trophos - feeder) are also

called decomposers or reducers. They break down the complex organic

compounds of dead matter (of plants and animals).

Decomposers do not ingest their food. Instead they secrete

digestive enzymes into the dead and decaying plant and animal

remains to digest the organic material. Enzymes act upon the

complex organic compounds of the dead matter.

Decomposers absorb a part of the decomposition products for

their own nourishment. The remaining substances are added as

minerals to the substratum (mineralisation).

Released minerals are reused (utilised) as nutrients by the

plants (producers).

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