What is an ecosystem?

2 Answers
Mar 19, 2016

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (biotic factors) and nonliving (abiotic) factors that interact with one another.


An ecosystem includes all of the living things (biotic factors) in a given area, interacting with each other and also with their non-living (abiotic) environment.

Ecosystems are larger than a habitat, or a community or a forest type.


Ecosystems also change over time in response to disturbances such as fires, removal of a species, or climate change.

As an ecosystem forms, it undergoes what is called ecological succession. Eventually, if enough time passes, the ecosystem will reach what is called a climax community, when no new species are added and no species leave the community. This is when the ecosystem is considered stable.

There are many ways to define an ecosystem. Using the dominant vegetation type is one method. The geology, climate, temperature and precipitation of the area are usually considered too. The geography is also often important.

To learn more, check out this Socratic question on examples of ecosystems, how carbon flows through an ecosystem, and how an ecosystem can be managed sustainably.

An ecosystem can be considered as a functional unit of nature where living organisms interact with themselves as well as there physical enviorment.


  • There are two components of an ecosystem:

  • Biotic components: All the living organisms present around us like human beings, animals, microorganisms and plants are considered as the biotic components of an ecosystem.

  • Abiotic components: All the non-living factors such as heat, temperature, air, water, light and soil are considered to be abiotic components of an ecosystem.

  • Ecosystems are diverse in nature therefore there are many different types of ecosystems like ocean ecosystems (as oceans and the living organisms they contain cover 75% of the Earth's surface), desert ecosystems etc.

*Always remember that matter is always recyled in an ecosystem and energy is always conserved in an ecosystem.