1. Define the term Ecosystem

Ecosystem: A functioning entity made up of the interactions between living organisms and their nonliving environment. The amount and types of air, energy, water and nutrients determine the numbers and types of organisms that an ecosystem contains.

  1. Why are there diverse ecosystems?

As the quantity and type of air, energy, water and nutrients varies around the world, there are a wide variety of different ecosystems such as arid, coral reefs, coniferous forests, alpine etc.

In addition, biophysical interactions, the building blocks of ecosystems occur in varying amounts and interact differently across the globe, leading to diverse ecosystems.

Ecosystems are often classified according to aspects of the physical environment and are usually defined by the boundaries between habitat types.

Ecosystems are either terrestrial (land based) or aquatic (water based).

Diversity in terrestrial ecosystems can occur from:

Diversity in aquatic ecosystems (e.g. ponds, rivers, coral reefs etc.) can occur from:

  1. How do ecosystems function?

Ecosystem Functions: Processes that organisms and ecosystems perform or participate in that provide products and/or consequences for themselves, for other species and ecosystems in the community or region.

Energy Flows:

Nutrient Cycling:

Nitrogen Cycle:

Carbon Cycle:

Biophysical Interactions:

Climatic Factors:

Topographic Factors:

  1. Why are ecosystems at risk and what does at risk mean
  1. Describe impacts on ecosystems due to natural stress

Examples of natural stress:


  1. Describe impacts on ecosystems due to human induced modifications

Examples of human induced modifications:


  1. How vulnerable and resilient are ecosystems to stress?

All ecosystems operate in a state of dynamic equilibrium as change happens all the time. Level of vulnerability depends on how small a change will upset the equilibrium. Some ecosystems are therefore more resilient than others.

Resilience: The ability to withstand shock and return to normal functioning after a period of disturbance.

Major factors influencing vulnerability of an ecosystem (BELL):





  1. Outline the importance of ecosystem management and protection

There are various ways ecosystems are managed and/or protected but typically it involves humans setting aside a designated area of land that is regulated and overlooked. If we were to lose some of our ecosystems, various planetary processes would be disrupted potentially causing major disruption. We protect ecosystems for reasons including:

Management: A process that aims to conserve ecosystems and restore natural resources while meeting the needs to current and future generations.

Protection: Typically involves limiting the human interactions in the area which management allows.

Heritage Value

Utility Value:

Maintenance of Genetic Diversity:

Intrinsic Value:

Need to allow natural change to proceed