An ecosystem is a type of system comprising of different type of biotic and abiotic components like soil, water, animals, etc. which interact with each other in a various manner such as plants interacts with soil to get nutrients, then interacts with air to get carbon dioxide to perform the vital process known as photosynthesis. Thus, it is a self-sustaining and independent existing system of living and their non-living environment.
An ecosystem only needs sunlight as its input for the normal functioning. Some examples of the ecosystem are the pond, the desert, the grassland, the sea, the mountain, the forest, and the river. An ecosystem has mainly two components abiotic components and biotic components. The abiotic component comprises of non-living components of an environment such as soil, water, air, and temperature.
Biotic components comprise of living components such as plant, animal, etc. These biotic components can be classified into the following groups;
- Producers: They are organisms which are non-dependent on any other organisms for food as they make their own food from simple inorganic compounds like carbon dioxide and water by using sunlight in presence of chlorophyll such as plants.
- Consumers: They are organisms which are dependent on producers for food.
- Decomposers: They are organisms which consume the dead remains of producers and consumers.
Now the question arises that how the ecosystem, which is self-contained, functions?
The main components which led to the functioning of an ecosystem are non-living components like soil, air, and water which contain different types of inorganic nutrients and a living component called as producers, consumers, and decomposers.
These two components help in the functioning of the ecosystem as follows:
The producers take the water and carbon dioxide from the non-living components of the environment and trap the solar energy from the sun and convert the inorganic compounds into organic compounds such as carbohydrates which acts as a food. Thus, the producers trap solar energy and provide the basic food energy to all the living components of an ecosystem. The consumers get the food energy or simply food directly or indirectly from producers and when the life cycle of the producers and consumers gets completed then the decomposers decompose their dead bodies to give back the nutrients to the nutrient pool (air, water, and soil).
Thus, ecosystem comprises a good cyclic process.
A food chain is a system of energy transfer from one organism to another organism by consuming each other. The food is first produced by producers such as plants and then the food energy gets transferred into first trophic level consumers and it is then transferred to the second trophic level consumers. The good example of food chain is in aquatic ecosystem in which the producer is algae in sea and then it gets consumed by first trophic level consumer protozoa that are an herbivore and then protozoa is consumed by second trophic level consumer like small fish which is carnivore and then it also gets consumed by a third trophic level consumer like big fish which is a large carnivore.
Transfer of energy in a food chain
The food chain in an ecosystem mainly represents the transfer of food energy from one organism to another organism in a stepwise manner. The flow of energy can be explained as follows:
- The producers (green plants) trap the solar energy and with the help of inorganic compounds such as carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll they undergo a process called photosynthesis and make carbohydrate. Approximately 1% of solar energy falling on the leaves is used up in the process of photosynthesis and stored as chemical energy.
- The plants or producers are eaten up by herbivores and the 10% (this is according to 10% law which says that only 10% energy of particular trophic level is available for the transfer) of chemical energy stored in plants is transferred to herbivores. The herbivores use this energy for their various metabolic activities.
- The herbivores are then consumed by the carnivores. The 10% of chemical energy stored in herbivores is transferred to the carnivores. This energy is used up by carnivores to perform their various metabolism activities.
We know that we use chemicals such as pesticides, insecticides to protect our crops. These chemicals are mixed with water and passed into the soil or into the lakes, rivers, and ponds. These chemicals are absorbed by plants along with water and minerals. These harmful chemicals are accumulated into the body tissues at each trophic level, which results in the higher concentration in the body tissues in the higher consumer. This is called Biological Magnification. This is unhealthy for consumers.
The Cereals, Fruits, Meat, and Milk all have a varying amount of pesticides, Insecticides remaining, and washing does not remove all of it.
The biological magnification can be stated as the following:
- Chemical mixes with the soil.
- The chemical is then passed to water from soil.
- Water is used by the plant and the chemical mixed with water also gets absorbed by plants.
- As the plant is the producer thus this chemical also passes to the food chain.
- As we know a man is also in the food chain thus man is also affected.
- Thus, our whole ecosystem gets affected.
Thus, biological magnification is harmful to the existence of mankind so this problem should be solved and proper measures should be taken to save our ecosystem otherwise our ecosystem will be disrupted soon and the flow of energy will also be imbalanced as if in food chain any one of the consumers will not exist then energy transfer will not happen as like if in aquatic ecosystem small fish get extinct then what will be consumed by big fishes and they will also get extinct and the whole ecosystem will be destroyed and if ecosystem will not exist then how can we exist in this great earth. So, we should also think about our ecosystem and then should take any type of action for our benefit.