An ecosystem is a group of plants, animals and other living and non living things together in an environment. There are many different types of ecosystems and all the ecosystems of the world are interrelated. When pollution or any other disturbance occurs in one part of the world it affects all the other ecosystems as well. Tropical rainforests, grasslands, lakes, ponds, and forests are some of the different kinds of ecosystem. In animals such as the polar bear, who are endangered, major changes to the ecosystem can be life threatening and cause a serious decline in their natural habitats.
Everything within an ecosystem is reliant and dependent upon other various elements within that ecosystem. In animals there is a direct correlation between the predator and the prey and all organisms in an ecosystem are classified as producers, consumers or decomposers.
An example of a producer would be a green plant that is able to produce its own food.
A consumer is an animal that can not make its own food and must use other plants or animals for food.
A decomposer is responsible for breaking down waste products and deceased animals for food.
There are different levels of consumers in the ecosystem. In animals that are classified as a first level consumer dinner may be a tasty shrub or root. First level consumers, such as mice, feed directly on the plants in the ecosystem. In animals that are classified as second level consumers lunch might consist of a juicy mouse. Snakes are one example of a second level consumer. An example of a third level consumer would be a hawk who would eat the snake for breakfast.
If a species is introduced to an ecosystem that is not native to that environment it can cause a lot of problems within the food chain. If, for instance, a new species of frogs are brought into an ecosystem it might not seem like that much of a problem. However the new species of frogs are going to start eating the bugs that other animals in the ecosystem are dependent upon. Also, with the addition of a prey additional predators may begin to enter the ecosystem and cause further problems.
There is a very delicate balance of producers, predators and prey within an ecosystem. In animals that balance is vital for their survival and it is imperative that the ecosystems in our communities are allowed to remain intact. By taking care of the ecosystems of the world and understanding how they work a healthier environment can be enjoyed by people and animals alike.