Many of us are unaware that the study of ecology and ecosystem sciences might offer us the tools to find a solution to the global disaster we are heading towards. While some ecosystems might be as tiny as a pond behind the house, it is important to know that ecosystems interact with one another, and keeping them balanced is key to preserving our entire planet.
Ecosystems are composed of nonliving elements such as soil, air and water, and of living organisms. There are many different categories of living things that have particular roles in the ecosystem, interacting with each other and working together to maintain a healthy and balanced system.
Categories of living organisms
Within an ecosystem, there are three main categories of living organisms that have different roles. These three categories are producers, consumers and decomposers.
The producers are the green plants, which create organic matter by processing elements from the soil by using the sun’s light as an energy source. They are the only ones capable of producing organic matter out of inorganic components.
The consumers are the living things that get their energy directly from the producers. They consume plants and their products in order to get everything necessary to survive. Out of the three types of consumers, herbivores are animals that only eat plants to survive, carnivores are animals that consume the herbivores that feed on plants, and omnivores which eat both plants and animals.
The decomposers are the plants and animals which feed on dead plant and animal matter, breaking them down into organic and inorganic compounds that return to the soil, from which plants take their resources and start producing more living matter, and so the cycle continues.
We are at the top of the food chain, dominating every other living and non-living thing that surrounds us. Unfortunately, our impact is the most discussed topic, and not our place and role as the only species that is capable of understanding what is happening and of finding a solution.
We take a lot more than we give back, and we should stop using everything just to reach our own ends. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have an environment to support us, so the time has come to start reversing the damage we have caused, stop the destructive path we have taken and to take measure to preserve our planet.