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Topic last updated: 09 Nov 2023
    • Biology Biology
    • Ico Science Science
    • 14-16
    • 55

Ecosystems and ecology

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Competition and interdependence

The place where organisms live is called a habitat.

There are lots of different types of habitat, including the sea, a forest, or a desert. All of them have different conditions which the animals and plants that live in them need to survive.

A population is the total number of organisms of the same species living in the same geographical area. There will be lots of different populations within one habitat.

All the populations together make up the community. The term community encompasses all the populations of all the different species that live in the same habitat.

The community contains both biotic and abiotic factors. The biotic factors are the living and the abiotic are the non-living. Both the biotic and abiotic factors interact with each other in an ecosystem.

Within an ecosystem, biotic factors need a supply of different things from their environment, such as water, food or shelter. As these resources are limited, organisms compete for survival. For example, plants will compete for light, space, water and minerals, and animals will compete for food, water, mating partners and territory.

As well as competing, organisms also rely on each other to be able to survive and reproduce. This is known as interdependence. For example, all animals rely on other living organisms for food, and sometimes shelter. At the bottom of the food chain animals will eat plants. Plants are producers, meaning that they make their own food via photosynthesis. The animal that eats the plant is known as a consumer.

Plants can rely on animals too, such as bees that provide pollination.

Due to interdependence, if a species becomes extinct or endangered then this can have an impact on the whole community. For example, if bees disappear then plants cannot be pollinated and so cannot reproduce. Therefore, the consumers which feed on the plants will run out of food and the population falls. This would also have an impact on the predator who eats the consumer whose population has declined.

Generally, populations remain constant and balanced. This is known as a stable community.