Ecosystem

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An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving, physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water, and sunlight.[1] It is all the organisms in a given area, along with the nonliving (abiotic) factors with which they interact; a biological community and its physical environment.[1]

Contents

Overview

The entire array of organisms inhabiting a particular ecosystem is called a community.[1] In a typical ecosystem, plants and other photosynthetic organisms are the producers that provide the food.[1] Ecosystems can be permanent or temporary. Ecosystems usually form a number of food webs.[2]

Ecosystems are functional units consisting of living things in a given area, non-living chemical and physical factors of their environment, linked together through nutrient cycle and energy flow.[citation needed]

Central to the ecosystem concept is the idea that living organisms interact with every other element in their local environment. Eugene Odum, a founder of ecology, stated: "Any unit that includes all of the organisms (ie: the "community") in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (i.e.: exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts) within the system is an ecosystem."[3]

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