"Ecosystem and Climate Change" is a very important chapter of the Agriculture and Rural Development section of the NABARD Grade-A Exam. Today, we will discuss some of the basic terms of this chapter. Read this post now to enhance your NABARD Grade-A Exam preparation!
Environment, Ecology, Biomes
- The word "environment" originates from "environ" which means things that surround.
- The environment is the sum total of all conditions and influences that affect the development and life of all organisms on earth.
- The living organisms vary from the lowest micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungus, etc. to the highest, including man.
- Each organism has its own environment (physical and biological).
- As per the definition of the Environment Protection Act, the environment includes all the physical and biological surroundings and their interactions.
- The word "Ecology" was coined by a German biologist in 1869 and is derived from the Greek word, "Oikos" meaning "House".
- Ecology is the branch of science that deals with the study of interactions between living organisms and their physical environment. Both are closely interrelated and they have continuous interaction so that any change in the environment has an effect on the living organisms and vice-versa.
- Any unit of biosystem that includes all the organisms which function together (biotic community) in a given area where they interact with the physical environment is known as an ecosystem.
- The ecosystem is the functional unit in ecology as it consists of both the biotic community (living organisms) and the abiotic environment. The latter has close interaction essential for the maintenance of life processes.
- The interaction is conducted by energy flow (solar energy) in the system and the cycling of materials (natural cycles).
- From the biological point of view, the ecosystem has the following constituents:
- Inorganic substances (carbon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water, etc
- Organic compounds (proteins, carbohydrates, humic substances), etc.
- Air, water, and substrate environment including the climatic regime and other physical factors.
- Producers, autotrophic (i.e., self-sustaining organisms) green plants that can manufacture food from simple inorganic substances.
- Heterotrophic (which depend on others for nourishment) organisms, mainly bacteria, fungi, and animals that live on other organisms or particulate organic matter.
- Micro-consumers, decomposers, mainly bacteria, fungi obtain their energy by breaking down dead tissues or by absorbing dissolved organic matter, extracted from plants or other organisms. The decomposers release inorganic nutrients that are utilized by producers. They also supply food for macro-consumers or heterotrophic organisms. Bacteria, fungi (and animals) often excrete hormone-like substances that inhibit or stimulate other biotic components of the ecosystem.
- The common features of all ecosystems—terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and agricultural—are the interactions between the autotrophic and the heterotrophic components. The major autotrophic metabolism occurs in the upper "green belt" stratum where solar energy is available while the intense heterotrophic metabolism occurs in the lower "brown belt" where organic matter accumulates in soils and sediments.
- A biome is a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. In other words, it is a very large land community unit where the plant species are more or less uniform.
- The main biomes of the world are the Tundra; Temperate, Coniferous and Deciduous forests, Temperate grassland; Tropical Savanna; Desert and Tropical Rain Forests.
- The Tundra Biome is in the polar region: It is characterized by the absence of trees, dwarf planets, and an upper ground surface that is wet, spongy, and rough.
- Temperate Coniferous Forest Biome: Coniferous forests occur in cold regions with high rainfall, long winters, and short summers.
- Temperate Deciduous Forest Biome: These are high-altitude regions about 3000-4000 meters above sea level (as in the Himalayas). Here pines, fir, and juniper trees are found.
- Temperate Grassland Biome: This type of grassland occurs where there is about 25 to 75 cm of rainfall per year. Such grasslands are found as tallgrass prairies, short grass prairies of North America and also in South America, steppes of Southern Russia and Asia.
- Tropical Savanna Biome: These are tropical grasslands with scattered drought-resistant trees. These are found in eastern Africa, Australia, and South America.
- Desert Biome: These are found in a very dry environment where temperature changes from very hot to very cold.
- Tropical Rainforest Biome: These occur near the equator and offer the most diverse communities on earth with fairly high temperatures and humidity. The annual rainfall is more than 200-225 cm. Here one finds dense vegetation consisting of tall trees covered with creepers and orchids, numerous herbs, and shrubs. The tropical rainforest is the habitat of numerous vertebrates and invertebrate animals.
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