Ecosystem diversity

Ecosystem diversity deals with the variations in ecosystems within a geographical location and its overall impact on human existence and the environment.

Ecosystem diversity is a type of biodiversity. It is the variation in the ecosystems found in a region or the variation in ecosystems over the whole planet. Biodiversity is important because it clears out our water, changes out climate, and provides us with food. Ecological diversity includes the variation in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Ecological diversity can also take into account the variation in the complexity of a biological community, including the number of different niches, the number of trophic levels and other ecological processes. An example of ecological diversity on a global scale would be the variation in ecosystems, such as deserts, forests, grasslands, wetlands and oceans. Ecological diversity is the largest scale of biodiversity, and within each ecosystem, there is a great deal of both species and genetic diversity.[1][2][3][4]

The Earth has many diverse ecosystems and ecologicalsystem diversity. These are NASA composite images of the Earth: 2001 (left), 2002 (right), titled The Blue Marble.


Diversity in the ecosystem is significant to human existence for a variety of reasons. Ecosystem diversity boosts the availability of oxygen via the process of photosynthesis amongst plant organisms domiciled in the habitat. Diversity In an aquatic environment helps in the purification of water by plant varieties for use by humans. Diversity increases plant varieties which serves as a good source for medicines and herbs for human use. A lack of diversity in the ecosystem produces an opposite result.[5]


Some examples of ecosystems that are rich in diversity are:

Ecosystem diversity as a result of evolutionary pressure

Ecological diversity around the world can be directly linked to the evolutionary and selective pressures that constrain the diversity outcome of the ecosystems within different niches. Tundras, Rainforests, coral reefs and deciduous forests all are formed as a result of evolutionary pressures. Even seemingly small evolutionary interactions can have large impacts on the diversity of the ecosystems throughout the world. One of the best studied cases of this is of the honey bee's interaction with angiosperms on every continent in the world except Antarctica.[6]

In 2010 Robert Brodschneider, and Karl Crailsheim conducted a study about the health and nutrition in honey bee colonies, the study conducted focused on: overall colony health, adult nutrition, and larva nutrition as a function of the effect of pesticides, monocultures and genetically modified crops to see if the anthropogenically created problems can have an effect pollination levels.[7] The results indicate that human activity does have a role in the destruction of the fitness of the bee colony. The extinction or near extinction of these pollinators would result in many plants that feed humans on a wide scale, needing alternative pollination methods.[8] Crop pollinating insects are worth annually 14.6 billion to the US economy[9] and cost to hand pollinate over insect pollination will cost an estimated 5,715-$7,135 per hectare additionally. Not only will there be a cost increase but also an decrease in colony fitness, leading to a decrease in genetic diversity, which studies have shown has a direct link to the long term survival of the honey bee colonies. [10]

According to a study, there are over 50 plants that are dependent on bee pollination, many of these being key staples to feeding the world.[11] Another study conducted states that as a direct result of a lack of plant diversity, will lead to a decline in the bee population fitness, and a low bee colony fitness has impacts on the fitness of plant ecosystem diversity. [12] By allowing for bee pollination and working to reduce anthropogenically harmful footprints, bee pollination can increase flora growth genetic diversity and create a unique ecosystem that is highly diverse and can provide a habitat and niche for many other organisms to thrive.[13] Due to the evolutionary pressures of bees being located on six out of seven continents, there can be no denying the impact of pollinators on the ecosystem diversity. The pollen collected by the bees is harvested and used as an energy source for winter time, this act of collecting pollen from local plants also has a more important effect of facilitating the movement of genes between organisms.[14]

The new evolutionary pressures that are largely anthropogenically catalyzed can potentially cause wide spread collapse of ecosystems. In the north Atlantic sea, a study was conducted that followed the effects of the human interaction on surrounding ocean habitats. They found that in there was no habitat or trophic level that in some way was effected negatively by human interaction, and that much of the diversity of life was being stunted as a result.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Cunningham, Margaret. "What is Biodiversity? - Definition and Relation to Ecosystem Stability". DSST Environment & Humanity: Study Guide & Test Prep. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  2. ^ Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner, eds. (2009). "Ecosystems". Environmental Science: In context. In Context Series. 1. Detroit: Gale. pp. 242–246. ISBN 978-1-4103-3754-2. OCLC 277051356.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  3. ^ Purdy, Elizabeth (2012). "Ecosystems". In S. George Philander (ed.). Encyclopedia of Global Warming & Climate Change. 1 (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference. pp. 485–487. doi:10.4135/9781452218564. ISBN 978-1-4129-9261-9 – via Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  4. ^ Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner, eds. (2009). "Ecosystem Diversity". Environmental Science: In Context. In Context Series. 1. Detroit: Gale. pp. 239–241. ISBN 978-1-4103-3754-2. OCLC 277051356.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Naveh, Z. (1994-09-01). "From Biodiversity to Ecodiversity: A Landscape-Ecology Approach to Conservation and Restoration". Restoration Ecology. 2 (3): 180–189. doi:10.1111/j.1526-100x.1994.tb00065.x. ISSN 1526-100X.
  6. ^ "On What Continents Are Bees Not Found?". Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  7. ^ Brodschneider, Robert (2010). "Nutrition and health in Honey bees" (PDF). Apidologie.
  8. ^ "Mission 2015: Bee Technology". Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  9. ^ "Decline of bees forces China's apple farmers to pollinate by hand". Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  10. ^ "Genetic diversity key to survival of honey bee colonies". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  11. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  12. ^ "Plant biodiversity essential to bee health". UPI. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  13. ^ "Why Bees Are Important to Our Planet - One Green Planet". 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  14. ^ Liu, Min; Compton, Stephen G.; Peng, Fo-En; Zhang, Jian; Chen, Xiao-Yong (2015-06-07). "Movements of genes between populations: are pollinators more effective at transferring their own or plant genetic markers?". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 282 (1808): 20150290. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.0290. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 4455804. PMID 25948688.
  15. ^ Lotze, Heike K.; Milewski, Inka (October 2004). "TWO CENTURIES OF MULTIPLE HUMAN IMPACTS AND SUCCESSIVE CHANGES IN A NORTH ATLANTIC FOOD WEB". Ecological Applications. 14 (5): 1428–1447. doi:10.1890/03-5027. ISSN 1051-0761.

Bacterivores are free-living, generally heterotrophic organisms, exclusively microscopic, which obtain energy and nutrients primarily or entirely from the consumption of bacteria. Many species of amoeba are bacterivores, as well as other types of protozoans. Commonly, all species of bacteria will be prey, but spores of some species, such as Clostridium perfringens, will never be prey, because of their cellular attributes.


A copiotroph is an organism found in environments rich in nutrients, particularly carbon. They are the opposite to oligotrophs, which survive in much lower carbon concentrations.

Copiotrophic organisms tend to grow in high organic substrate conditions. For example, copiotrophic organisms grow in Sewage lagoons. They grow in organic substrate conditions up to 100x higher than oligotrophs.


Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so, they carry out the natural process of decomposition. Like herbivores and predators, decomposers are heterotrophic, meaning that they use organic substrates to get their energy, carbon and nutrients for growth and development. While the terms decomposer and detritivore are often interchangeably used, detritivores must ingest and digest dead matter via internal processes while decomposers can directly absorb nutrients through chemical and biological processes hence breaking down matter without ingesting it. Thus, invertebrates such as earthworms, woodlice, and sea cucumbers are technically detritivores, not decomposers, since they must ingest nutrients and are unable to absorb them externally.


In population dynamics, depensation is the effect on a population (such as a fish stock) whereby, due to certain causes, a decrease in the breeding population (mature individuals) leads to reduced production and survival of eggs or offspring. The causes may include predation levels rising per offspring (given the same level of overall predator pressure) and the allee effect, particularly the reduced likelihood of finding a mate.

Dominance (ecology)

Ecological dominance is the degree to which a taxon is more numerous than its competitors in an ecological community, or makes up more of the biomass.

Most ecological communities are defined by their dominant species.

In many examples of wet woodland in western Europe, the dominant tree is alder (Alnus glutinosa).

In temperate bogs, the dominant vegetation is usually species of Sphagnum moss.

Tidal swamps in the tropics are usually dominated by species of mangrove (Rhizophoraceae)

Some sea floor communities are dominated by brittle stars.

Exposed rocky shorelines are dominated by sessile organisms such as barnacles and limpets.

Energy Systems Language

The Energy Systems Language, also referred to as Energese, Energy Circuit Language, or Generic Systems Symbols, was developed by the ecologist Howard T. Odum and colleagues in the 1950s during studies of the tropical forests funded by the United States Atomic Energy Commission. They are used to compose energy flow diagrams in the field of systems ecology.

Feeding frenzy

In ecology, a feeding frenzy occurs when predators are overwhelmed by the amount of prey available. For example, a large school of fish can cause nearby sharks, such as the lemon shark, to enter into a feeding frenzy. This can cause the sharks to go wild, biting anything that moves, including each other or anything else within biting range. Another functional explanation for feeding frenzy is competition amongst predators. This term is most often used when referring to sharks or piranhas. It has also been used as a term within journalism.


A lithoautotroph or chemolithoautotroph is a microbe which derives energy from reduced compounds of mineral origin. Lithoautotrophs are a type of lithotrophs with autotrophic metabolic pathways. Lithoautotrophs are exclusively microbes; macrofauna do not possess the capability to use mineral sources of energy. Most lithoautotrophs belong to the domain Bacteria, while some belong to the domain Archaea. For lithoautotrophic bacteria, only inorganic molecules can be used as energy sources. The term "Lithotroph" is from Greek lithos (λίθος) meaning "rock" and trōphos (τροφοσ) meaning "consumer"; literally, it may be read "eaters of rock". Many lithoautotrophs are extremophiles, but this is not universally so.

Lithoautotrophs are extremely specific in using their energy source. Thus, despite the diversity in using inorganic molecules in order to obtain energy that lithoautotrophs exhibit as a group, one particular lithoautotroph would use only one type of inorganic molecule to get its energy.

Mesotrophic soil

Mesotrophic soils are soils with a moderate inherent fertility. An indicator of soil fertility is its base status, which is expressed as a ratio relating the major nutrient cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium) found there to the soil's clay percentage. This is commonly expressed in hundredths of a mole of cations per kilogram of clay, i.e. cmol (+) kg−1 clay.


Microecosystems can exist in locations which are precisely defined by critical environmental factors within small or tiny spaces.

Such factors may include temperature, pH, chemical milieu, nutrient supply, presence of symbionts or solid substrates, gaseous atmosphere (aerobic or anaerobic) etc.


A mycotroph is a plant that gets all or part of its carbon, water, or nutrient supply through symbiotic association with fungi. The term can refer to plants that engage in either of two distinct symbioses with fungi:

Many mycotrophs have a mutualistic association with fungi in any of several forms of mycorrhiza. The majority of plant species are mycotrophic in this sense. Examples include Burmanniaceae.

Some mycotrophs are parasitic upon fungi in an association known as myco-heterotrophy.

Ndumo Game Reserve

Ndumo Game Reserve is a small (11 000 ha) South African game reserve located in the far northeast district of KwaZulu-Natal known as Maputaland. It is situated on the border with Mozambique where the Pongola River joins the Great Usutu River. It is adjacent to the Tembe Elephant Park. Ndumo is relatively remote, being over 400 km from Durban. The town of Mkuze is 110 km away.

Ndumo hosts a diverse range of habitats including sand forest, dense riverine forest, floodplains, alluvial plains, reedbeds, grassland, broad-leaved and acacia woodlands and extremely dense thornveld. Ndumo is popular for its birdlife and despite its small size, the reserve has recorded in excess of 430 bird species including residents and seasonal migrants. The park's abundance of pans, floodplains and rivers (Pongola & Usutu) provide suitable habitat for many aquatic species. The Maputaland area in general is relatively rich in birdlife due to ecosystem diversity as well as its geographical location: the area forms the southernmost range for a great many eastern and north-eastern African bird species. The area receives a high annual rainfall.

A short list of sought-after bird species resident to Ndumo:

Pel's fishing owl

Narina trogon

African broadbill

Eastern nicator (formerly "yellow-spotted nicator" but this name is now given to another bird, the western nicator)

African cuckoo-hawkLarge mammals found in Ndumo include nyala, hippopotamus, Nile crocodile, impala and Cape buffalo. Big cats are absent from the park. Elephants are prolific at the neighbouring Tembe Elephant Park.

As with all parts of Maputaland, malaria is endemic and visitors are advised to take the proper precautions.

There is an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife campsite and hutted camp.

This park is to be included into the: Usuthu-Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Conservation Area.


An organotroph is an organism that obtains hydrogen or electrons from organic substrates. This term is used in microbiology to classify and describe organisms based on how they obtain electrons for their respiration processes. Some organotrophs such as animals and many bacteria, are also heterotrophs. Organotrophs can be either anaerobic or aerobic.

Antonym: Lithotroph, Adjective: Organotrophic.


Overpopulation occurs when a species' population exceeds the carrying capacity of its ecological niche. It can result from an increase in births (fertility rate), a decline in the mortality rate, an increase in immigration, or an unsustainable biome and depletion of resources. When overpopulation occurs, individuals limit available resources to survive.

The change in number of individuals per unit area in a given locality is an important variable that has a significant impact on the entire ecosystem.


A planktivore is an aquatic organism that feeds on planktonic food, including zooplankton and phytoplankton.

Recruitment (biology)

In biology, especially marine biology, recruitment occurs when a juvenile organism joins a population, whether by birth or immigration, usually at a stage whereby the organisms are settled and able to be detected by an observer.There are two types of recruitment: closed and open.In the study of fisheries, recruitment is "the number of fish surviving to enter the fishery or to some life history stage such as settlement or maturity".

Relative abundance distribution

In the field of ecology, the relative abundance distribution (RAD) or species abundance distribution describes the relationship between the number of species observed in a field study as a function of their observed abundance. The graphs obtained in this manner are typically fitted to a Zipf–Mandelbrot law, the exponent of which serves as an index of biodiversity in the ecosystem under study.

Species homogeneity

In ecology, species homogeneity is a lack of biodiversity. Species richness is the fundamental unit in which to assess the homogeneity of an environment. Therefore, any reduction in species richness, especially endemic species, could be argued as advocating the production of a homogenous environment.

Food webs
Example webs
Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components


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