Ecosystems biology lesson for kids: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grades biology lesson.
An ecosystem is all the living things in an environment, as well as the physical environment they inhabit. Plants, animals, and even other kinds of organisms like fungi form a special relationship with the sunlight, the weather, the ground, and everything else around it. There are many types of ecosystems: forest, grassland, desert, tundra, freshwater, and marine.
Forests can either be tropical, temperate (where it snows sometimes), and boreal (where it is cold pretty much all year round). Tropical rainforests have the most biodiversity of all types of forests.
Grassland ecosystems are too dry for trees, but have enough water to support grass. Grasslands can exist all over, just like forests. Because they have lots of space, grazing animals often form huge herds in grasslands.
Deserts are even drier than grasslands, and it rarely rains. We tend to think of deserts as hot, but not all of them are; some are near the arctic, and are very cold. The organisms that live in deserts have to be very well adapted to the dry environment.
Then, there are tundra ecosystems. These are very cold environments, where the ground could be frozen all year round, and there is snow and ice everywhere. The organisms that live here have to be able to keep themselves warm and find food in these harsh environments.
Freshwater and marine ecosystems are both underwater ecosystems. The difference is that freshwater ecosystems exist in water that isn’t salty (like rivers and lakes) and marine environments are in salty water (the ocean). Just because an organism lives under water doesn’t mean it will be able to survive both of these types of ecosystems. Amphibians, for example, live in and around freshwater environments. Corals only live in marine environments.
Ecosystems face lots of dangers, some of them manmade, some natural. We humans destroy habitats all the time as we expand our civilizations and farmlands. We also overhunt and overfish, causing a sharp decrease in the numbers of specific organisms. This can have a cascade effect, because the ecosystem might be dependent on these organisms to keep the balance that has been around for thousands of years. We also pollute ecosystems with our waste; the air, land, and water can become clogged with pollution that makes it harder for the organisms that live in these environments to survive.
Not all threats to ecosystems are the result of human intervention, though. Sometimes, an ecosystem can be endangered because of major natural disasters. A volcano erupting can cause serious problems for the surrounding organisms, for example.
While there are many different types of ecosystems, they all depend on a balance between living and nonliving in order to keep things going and alive.