The world’s surface has been divided into separate ecosystems, or habitat biomes, which are the major regional groupings of plants and animals. Each ecosystem is firmly associated with local weather patterns.
Ecosystems – All living beings form and are part of ecosystems. There are nearly one and a half million different species that have been identified, with millions more yet to be discovered. This diversity of life exists together in a wide variety of habitats throughout the world.
Adaptations – The world’s environments differ greatly in temperature, rainfall and sunlight, to mention but a few of the variations. As a result, the plants and animals in each have adapted over time to their own particular environment, and maintain a delicate interconnected balance within each.
Areas with similar climates in different parts of the world develop the same characteristic appearances, giving rise to plants and animals which have evolved in similar ways, but in very different parts of the world. This is called convergent evolution. That is why the Pampas Grasslands of Argentina may look similar to the Steppe Grasslands of Asia, but a closer look will reveal different species of grasses and different animals eating those grasses.
Effects of Change – Any change in climate, rainfall, amount of sunlight, etc. has a drastic effect on this equilibrium, and can result in the extinction of one or more species. If a dominant species such as a tiger were to disappear, then the number of plant eaters would explode, consuming all the vegetation. If drought or disease eliminates the plant life, the plant eaters will either migrate or die, followed by the predators. If one single element is removed, the result is catastrophic.
Humans are a vital link in the interconnectedness of our world, and are the single most destructive force in nature. We must carefully consider what we are doing to our planet, our home – the only one we have.
Pollution of our water supplies, introduction of non-native species, destruction of forests, exploitation of the natural resources, industrial and housing developments are but a few of the ways in which we are slowly destroying Nature’s balance.
Our ecosystem pages provide a glimpse of life in each ecosystem, describing where they are, how they function and how they have adapted to their unique envvironment.
Knowledge on the factors that are upsetting that balance will help you to understand how vital it is that we all do our part to prevent further damage.
World Ecosystem References: