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Definition of Ecosystems

Ecosystems are dynamic interactions between plants, animals, and microorganisms and their environment working together as a functional unit. Ecosystems in nature work the same way. All the parts work together to make a balanced system. An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things that work together. Ecosystems have no particular size. An ecosystem can be as large as a desert or a lake or as small as a tree or a puddle. No community can carry more organisms than its food, water, and shelter can accomodate.  Food and territory are often balanced by natural phenomena such as fire, disease, and the number of predators.  Each organism has its own niche, or role, to play.

The major parts of an ecosystem are soil, atmosphere, heat and light from the sun, water and living organisms.

Soil: Soil is a critical part of an ecosystem. It provides important nutrients for the plants in an ecosystem. It helps anchor the plants to keep them in place. Soil absorbs and holds water for plants and animals to use and provides a home for lots of living organisms.Ecosystems will fail if the soil doesn't have the right nutrients, the plants will die. If the plants die, animals that depend on them will die. If the animals that depend on the plants die, any animals that depends on those animals will die.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere provides oxygen and carbon dioxide for the plants and animals. The atmosphere is also part of the water cycle. Without the complex interactions and elements in the atmosphere, there would be no life at all.

Heat and Light: The sun's heat helps water evaporate and return to the atmosphere where it is cycled back into water. The heat also keeps plants and animals warm. Without light from the sun there would be no photosynthesis and plants wouldn't have the energy they need to make food.

Water: Water is a large percentage of the cells that make up all living organisms. Without water all life would die.

living organisms: Plants take up nutrients from the soil, they convert them into other forms, which provide usable energy to organisms who eat the plants. When an herbivore, or plant-eating organism, eats the plant, it incorporates this energy. Chances are strong that the herbivore will be eaten either by a carnivore, a meat-eating organism, or by an omnivore, an organism that consumes both herbs and herbivores (both plants and animals). As nutrients pass from plant to herbivore to carnivore, the total amount of energy in them decreases.