What is an Ecosystem?

090603_dsc1467compSsAn ecosystem is a unit of life that is more or less self sustaining. The pond is a type of ecosystem that helps to sustain the larger ecosystem of the Brazos Valley. Ecosystems change over time in their function of sustaining life.

The earth ecosystem is the largest unit of life that we know. That is, it is the largest living thing. In fact, the earth ecosystem sustains all of life as we know it. In order to accomplish this prodigious task, the earth ecosystem must sustainably balance three primary sorts of resources:

1. The flow of energy from the sun to the plants. The plants use light energy to generate chemical energy and organic molecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins etc.,) the things we eat that only come from living things. When the energy is used, it can not be used again. So the plants have to keep on working in balance with all the other parts of the ecosystem.

2. The flow of information through time via the genomes of the species. For example, the photosynthesis that plants do is organized by the inherited genes of that plant. Every living species has genes that direct its behavior.

3. The recycling flow of the molecules and atoms of matter (like carbon and oxygen) that are used to carry chemical energy through the living cells and form the structures that are unique to life.