Restoring the Earth: The Age of Nature episode 2: Taking in visits to the USA, China, Scotland and South Africa, this episode explores the connections within and between ecosystems. Documentary series about nature’s resilience. Even the smallest species can impact an ecosystem. And when a species finds itself in the wrong place, it can have a devastating effect.
Discover how a single species can influence a landscape, from tiny fireflies to iconic wolves, and how planting trees can reverse the impact of deforestation, help native wildlife to thrive and aid in mitigating the effects of climate change. The programme also examines the complexity within every ecosystem and shows how the wrong species in the wrong place can have catastrophic impacts.
Restoring the Earth: The Age of Nature episode 2
Ecosystem – The Age of Nature
An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the system through photosynthesis and is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and microbes.
Ecosystems are controlled by external and internal factors. External factors such as climate, parent material which forms the soil and topography, control the overall structure of an ecosystem but are not themselves influenced by the ecosystem. Internal factors are controlled, for example, by decomposition, root competition, shading, disturbance, succession, and the types of species present. While the resource inputs are generally controlled by external processes, the availability of these resources within the ecosystem is controlled by internal factors. Therefore, internal factors not only control ecosystem processes but are also controlled by them.
Ecosystems are dynamic entities—they are subject to periodic disturbances and are always in the process of recovering from some past disturbance. The tendency of an ecosystem to remain close to its equilibrium state, despite that disturbance, is termed its resistance. The capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks is termed its ecological resilience.
Ecosystems can be studied through a variety of approaches—theoretical studies, studies monitoring specific ecosystems over long periods of time, those that look at differences between ecosystems to elucidate how they work and direct manipulative experimentation. Biomes are general classes or categories of ecosystems. However, there is no clear distinction between biomes and ecosystems. Ecosystem classifications are specific kinds of ecological classifications that consider all four elements of the definition of ecosystems: a biotic component, an abiotic complex, the interactions between and within them, and the physical space they occupy.