“Ecosystem,” from _The Encyclopedia of Earth_

Here’s our first thread! For commentary on “Ecosystem,” from The Encyclopedia of Earth.

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28 thoughts on ““Ecosystem,” from _The Encyclopedia of Earth_

  1. Biology, and the article, define the word ‘ecosystem’ as everything that happens on an environment where everything is still composed only by nature’s creations. However, it is visible that most cities nowadays have lost almost all their green spaces. It is incredible how we humans differ from ours predecessors in evolution, and how we have created an environment sculpted by ourselves, that works the way we want, and that looks totally different from a natural one. But anyhow, they can be very similar too. I noted some definitions the author used to describe an ecosystem, and I realized that they can sort of be applied to what happens in a city.
    “Community of organisms interacting with each other and with the environment”;
    “Include living organisms, the dead organic matter produced by them, the abiotic (not deriving from living organisms) environment within which the organisms live and exchange elements.”
    What I can conclude is that, while an ecosystem composed by natural elements can keep their lives going on for billions of years, we humans have created a system that, in definition might sound similar to an ecosystem, but that is actually totally dependent on natural resources survive one day.

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  2. It was very interesting to read that researchers all have their own definitions of the ecosystem. The levels of organization of ecology helps to better understand how to classify each location. However, there are some grey areas such as classifying the interacting of systems of organisms inside the guts of most animals as an ecosystem. It was surprising to read that the word “ecosystem” was first used in 1930, and even more surprising to read that before the ecosystem concept, there existed a different concept called the “superorganism” concept, which said that, “communities of organisms formed something akin to a higher-level, more complex organism.” At first, I felt this concept wasn’t accurate at all, but if we consider the interacting systems within an animal an ecosystem, then the “superorganism” concept is proven correct.
    While reading this article, I couldn’t help but relate our in class discussion of what we call home. Going around the room, each student had their own definition of what home meant to them. Just like an ecosystem can mean a patch of trees or the entire forested region of the Amazon, a home can mean something specific, like your home address or it can mean your entire hometown.

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  3. Hannah Hildahl
    Ecosystems:
    After reading this article it is apparent how ambiguous the word “ecosystem” is. There are several different definitions, opinions, and theories on the word. The definition that I believe epitomizes the word ecosystem was from Eugene Odum. He stated, “Any unit that includes all of the organisms in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles within the system is an ecosystem.” This definition broadly explains the word ecosystem but allows the definition to apply to many areas. The important concept is that living organisms and nonliving organisms interact with one another causing a flow of energy. The article also stated that “everything is connected” in the ecosystem. This is an important concept if one area of the ecosystem is affected the whole ecosystem will be affected. It reminded me of the food chain and how every part is dependent on the other. In order for the whole ecosystem to function correctly all of its connecting parts must work together and do their job. We as citizens and humans are a major part of ecosystems and the article briefly states how “human alteration of ecosystems is now so pervasive globally.” I believe many humans are not functioning as part of the ecosystem but are merely destroying it by deforestation, burning harmful gases, and taking natural resources. This problem has caused issues like global warming. ”It is important to educate people on the ecosystem, how it works, and how we are affecting it.

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  4. The very first thought I got while reading about ecosystems is the connection between our discussion in class about home and this article. There is an interesting similarity of comparison that was discussed in both topics. In class, we talked about how “home” can be something as simple as music or a small area, but we also talked about how it can be considered to some as something as big as a neighborhood or city. Similarly, the article about “ecosystems” mentioned that “a single patch of trees together with the soil, organisms and atmosphere interacting with them may define a forest ecosystem, yet the entirety of all organisms, their environment, and their interactions across an entire forested region in the Amazon might also be defined as a single forest ecosystem.” This shows how the “ecosystem” can be interpreted in several different ways.
    The article highlights a major aspect of an ecosystem, which is the energy flow in it and how the components of an ecosystem are dependent on one another. It is viewed as a cycle of give and take between living and nonliving organisms in order to keep the cycle flowing. One manipulation in the cycle can change or ruin the whole process that occurs in an ecosystem.
    I can conclude that humans interfering with ecosystems and basically destroying large, fully developed ecosystems are doing much more harm than good because even though humans seek to have a more modern society with new inventions and developments greater than before, humans should be careful of obliterating what is left of the nature of ecosystems.

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  5. As I was reading the article we were assigned to read for Wednesday, I sat there the whole time I was reading it thinking to myself, “okay so what does all of this intensely descriptive ecosystem stuff have to do with our class?” Soon after contemplating the importance of the reading assignment we were given for awhile, I had an “aha” moment. To understand how an ecosystem works in its entirety is essential to understand the basis of this class. As Professor Dean described in today’s discussion, we all need to understand that there are many factors that are essential in order for an ecosystem to function and thrive properly. Ecosystems, as we know them, are made up of a variety of living and non-living organisms. If we are talking about literal ecosystems, factors like sunlight and soil are important. Although, as we referred in class today, we are not talking about a literal ecosystem, we are more-so discussing the idea of an ecosystem. Within this idea of an ecosystem and how it works, we focus on the interaction of the parts within the system, the interdependence of the parts, and how each part is responsible for the renewal of each other. Although the article we read was very specific and technical, from my point of view, what we need to learn from this reading assignment is the main principles that are necessary to make ecosystems work and function the way they do.

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  6. During the first class discussion we were asked what we thought of when we thought of home, answers varied from things that were not tangible to tangible items to even neighborhood or even towns in itself. Just like in the article about ecosystems, they talked about how ecosystems although it technically has one definition everyone views them in a different way just like how we all viewed home in a different way. Ecosystems involve living and nonliving organisms, they all depend on each other to make their “homes” prosper and thrive. They are continually recycling through each other to make each other successful. But seems like today, humans as a race are taking down lots of ecosystems. Building neighborhood developments, overhunting and pollution seem to be really hurting ecosystems. In my opinion, I think we can find better solutions to some of these problems and us as a society with being so modern and high tech would be able to find a solution to these problems in a eco friendly way.

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  7. Shane
    This article is unfamiliar and novel to read. Ecosystem for me usually is a invisible word other than a tangible image.In the passage,the author mainly discuss and introduce ecosystem in a more academic and formal way.The loop of the ecosystem always keep our Earth in efficient and healthy way while the interaction between different organism are changing since human activities.The idea “Everything is connected”demonstrate a significant factor in nature and our own society that our individual is requisite while we have to cooperate in a thorough embed way.Also,in the article the author states that this kind of interaction‘ require a continuous flow of high-quality energy to maintain their structure and function’.It’s fairly similar to our society that we need expert in different kind of fields that can push our society forward.In my opinion,nature itself play a profound role in our society and ordinary life even if it always exist in unconscious way for some people.In recently years,people started to concentrate in protect our nature instead of taking resource from interaction become a stable model even for the developing-country.The protection of our nature can make interaction in organism happen more diversely and successfully.

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  8. This past week I found that the discussion of ecosystems is a valuable point to start a class focused on society. After all, a society can’t exist without its ecosystem. Although the reading did become rather technical, it also helped me realize the vast amount of roles living and non-living organisms can play within a natural system. This description of organisms’ roles and their ecosystems is not an analogy for human society, it directly correlates to how we function as a species. One of the biggest challenges for us as a class will be coming to grips with the fact that we contribute to and change our ecosystem (society) in both active and passive ways. Every facet of life is involved, from what types of relationships we have with others around us to what we decide to recycle or throw away. We all play a role in the ecosystem that includes having the capacity to change our surroundings through relationships with others. Those relationships help discover/build technology which has its own effects on the ecosystem we live in. The idea of an ecosystem reminds of chain reactions like that.

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  9. I found “Ecosystem” by, Erle Ellis pretty interesting and a bit confusing. Some of the ideas he brought up were very fascinating like how an ecosystem can really be any size so long as it has biotic and abiotic components, interactions, and energy. This got me thinking if ecosystems include organisms such as humans, which ecosystem is a person that travels a part of? Or in other words is a bird that migrates considered part of multiple ecosystems or a part of one very large ecosystem (the Biosphere)? I also really liked how he explained the importance of ecosystems and how they are essential to biogeochemical cycling. This also made me wonder if humans have destroyed so many ecosystems, has the amount of biogeochemical cyling decreased? I found this web site “http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/sectors/biogeochemical-cycles”, which states that humans have increased nitrogen and carbon dioxide levels altering biogeochemical cycles and that this combined with climate changes has made biodiversity, food security, human health, and water more vulnerable to problems. After reading that I started thinking about how bad things could get if things don’t change. Imagine the polar ice caps melting in 50 years so much that the sea levels rise high enough to flood coastal states.

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    • 5 points. The estimates for when sea-level rise due to melting polar ice cap melting starts flooding land are getting shorter and shorter–maybe much less than 50 years now! In fact, there’s a lot of evidence that this is already happening.

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  10. During my senior year of high school, I had taken AP Biology, and so I had knew quite a lot about ecosystems myself when I first started reading this article. Although, after reading this article, I was amazed about other facts that I had learned about ecosystems. I was mainly interested about the history of the concept of ecosystem. Then, I started thinking about the discussion we had in class about our relationships with nature and what home meant to us. For many of us, nature is just there and we really don’t engage with it. Whereas for others, there is a relationship with nature and people engage with it. Now, coming from a large city, it is important to me because there is a lot of factories that pollute the air and intoxicate the rivers and lakes. (That’s just one example.) Not only are we destroying our ecosystem, but we are destroying another organisms ecosystem as well. A really important keyword that my AP Biology teacher always told us to keep in mind is the word “niche,” I believe we all have an niche in this society.

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  11. I found the article “Ecosystem” by Erle Ellis very informative and quite interesting. To start off, the fact that the ecosystem can be comprised of just a small patch or trees, or the entire amazon rain forest blows me mind. The word is so vague that it can be used to describe any community with the main three components that consist of life, death and renewal. That cycle will never be broken until there is no way to change sunlight into useable energy. Someone in class mentioned that humans might run out of time on earth, but as long as there is a way to use photosynthesis, life will continue. The Earth will always find a way to keep itself healthy and efficient while humans are here doing the complete opposite. It’s about time we start looking for ways to start protecting this whole work of beauty we have to gaze at until it’s gone. I think it is cool on how many different levels of ecology there is and the ability to move through the list to see different results of ecology. This idea can be broken down into communities or neighborhoods or homes that will be the main ideas of our entire class. It’s easy to see the similarities that both the ecosystem and our class have. Though we learned about the physical aspects of how an eco system, I believe the idea of an ecosystem is also important to living. The interaction and interdependence of parts are all responsible for each other. For example, if one kid on a rowing team is not pulling his weight in the boat, the rest of the boat will suffer by over correcting what he is doing wrong.

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    • 5 points. Good distinction–we talk about humans “destroying the earth,” but unless we literally blow up the planet, what we’re really doing is harming the earth so that human life and some other forms of life will not be able to survive on it. Nature will continue, though.

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  12. During the first class we were asked to describe what “home” meant to each of us. At first I thought of the basic meaning of home, but soon realized the word can mean so many variety of things to different people. Then we were given the assignment to read the online article about ecosystems. At first I did not quite understand the connection between the word “home” and ecosystems. As I went on further into the article I come to put together that an ecosystem in general is made up living and non-living organisms that work together. To make these things function together there are essential factors to make it work, such as sunlight and soil. Therefore, everything in a eco system is interconnected. This compares to the idea of what we were asked to define “home”, also thought of to be in a community. A community is similar to an ecosystem in the sense that everything lives together in a society. In each set of community or ecosystem, every part is essential to making it work as a whole.

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  13. As I was reading the article for the class’ discussion, I was mede myself sure about what the word ‘home’ is supposed to mean and why I am living here in this world. At frist, I was very impressed about how the author of the article, Erle Ellis, mentioned that “everything in the word is connected.” However, I came up with a different word to replace the word “connected” in the article, related. I know it means pretty much the same but the word relate is more widely used. I realized that I am part of the word when I have a relationship with other people around me by talking, texting, playing, or even asking how they are on facebook. Once a relationship is broken I get really depressed and am going to look for some ways to recover the relationship.Therefore, once the connection gets disconnected in ecosystem, we face the same problems that we face when we are having a bad relationship with other people. While I was reading this artlcle, I also realized that how each component in ecosystem is so important and needs to be taken care by other components. I feel the same way when I go to my home. It is the most comfortable place in the world to relax but if the relationship, or connection, between family members is broken, homes will turn out to be the worst place to visit. Familiy members are the most importatnt components of forming a family and once the connection between the members is broken, the actual purpose of being at home is also broken as well. Overall this article helped me to think about home and ecosystem philosophically.

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  14. It was interesting for me to see how the article “Ecosystem” by Erle Ellis, although very scientifically based tied seamlessly into the ides of “home” we are beginning to discuss in class. We discussed how the basic necessities to an ecosystem is also what is necessary in a society. Within an ecosystem there are nonliving and living organisms an energy source an environment are all necessary attributes while regeneration and diversity and interaction were all necessary processes. Just like life there is always a cycle that makes everything come together based on actions and others reactions, there is a cycle of an ecosystem starting with life then death than renewal. I really enjoyed reading this article because it gave me a different view on a community, looking at it from a scientifically standpoint an ecosystem is just that. All participants rely on one another in order to keep the system functioning just like our every day communities we are all apart of. In class I said home for me was a place where I felt safe and comfortable and that occurs when the community I am in is working and connecting together to succeed and make everyone happy.I believe the most important part to the cycle of a community/ecosystem is the regeneration part or self renewal because with this comes evolution change and progress adding even more diversity and enhancing the ongoing cycle.

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