What is an ecosystem?

An ecosystem is a natural environment and includes the flora (plants) and fauna (animals) that live and interact within that environment. Flora, fauna and bacteria are the biotic or living components of the ecosystem. Ecosystems are dependent on the following abiotic or non-living components:

  • climate - the temperature and amount of rainfall are very important for determining what species can survive in the ecosystem
  • soil - the soil type is important as this provides nutrients that will support different plants
  • water - the amount of water available in an ecosystem will determine what plants and animals can be supported

The biotic parts of the ecosystem, which include bacteria, flora and fauna, have a complex relationship with the abiotic components - changing one will lead to a change in the other.

Bacteria decomposes material in soil to create nutrients, which plants take in. Plants can be eaten by animals. Waste from dead plants and animals are added to the soil.