A biome is made of many similar ecosystems. An ecosystem is often much smaller than a biome, although the size varies.
Ecosystems are the interactions between the living things and the nonliving things in a place. In an ecosystem, the plants, animals, and other organisms rely on each other and on the physical environment – the soil, water, and nutrients, for example.
Even though they are living in the same place, each species in an ecosystem has its own role to play. This role is called a niche. The niche for one species might be to climb trees and eat their fruit, while the niche for another species might be to hunt for small rodents. For a tree, a niche might be to grow tall and make food with the Sun’s energy through the process of photosynthesis. If the niche of two species is very similar, they might compete for food or other resources.
Sometimes ecosystems get out of balance. If, for example, it rains a lot and a type of bird that thrives with extra water increases in numbers, other species in the ecosystem might be crowded out. The birds might take food or space or other resources from other species. They might eat all the food. Sometimes an ecosystem naturally gets back into balance. Other times an ecosystem will become more and more out of balance. Today, human actions are having an impact on ecosystems all over the world. Making buildings and roads, fishing and farming all have an impact on ecosystems. Pollution on land, air pollution, and water pollution is sending many ecosystems out of balance too.
The northern coniferous forests are called taiga or boreal forests. They cover vast areas of North America from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and range across northern Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and across Asia through Siberia and Mongolia to northern China and northern Japan.
Short summers and long winters
Coniferous trees thrive where summers are short and cool and winters long and harsh, with heavy snowfall that can last as long as 6 months. The needle-like leaves have a waxy outer coat which prevents water loss in freezing weather and the branches are soft and flexible and usually point downwards, so that snow slides off them. Larches are one example of a coniferous tree found in some of the coldest regions. Unusually for coniferous trees they are deciduous, that is they shed their leaves in winter.
Coniferous trees such as cypresses, cedars and redwoods are found in warmer regions.
Life on the forest floor
Even evergreen trees eventually shed their leaves and grow new ones. The needles fall to the forest floor and form a thick springy mat. Thread-like fungi help to break down or decompose the fallen needles. These fungi provide nutrients from the decomposed needles back to the roots of the trees. But because pine needles do not decompose easily, the soils are poor and acid.
These forests grow under widely differing conditions of climate and soil - from the tropics to the subarctic, and from heavy clays to poor sands. However, coniferous trees are especially conditioned to the winter climate. The trees of the taiga grow at the highest latitude of any forest. The most common are spruce, pine and firs.
Reach for the sky!
Cypresses, cedars and redwoods grow upright; the tallest of them can reach 20m in height. The trees are usually pyramid-shaped. Short, lateral branches grow quite close together but they are so flexible that the snow simply slides off. The leaves are small, hard and evergreen.
Little light penetrates the thick canopy of trees to reach the forest floor. Because of this gloom, only ferns and a few herbaceous plants grow here. Mosses, liverworts and lichens are also found on the forest floor and grow on tree trunks and branches. There are few flowering plants.
Biodiversity has been most generally defined as the "full variety of life on Earth". More specifically, biodiversity is the study of the processes that create and maintain variation. It is concerned with the variety of individuals within populations, the diversity of species within communities, and the range of ecological roles within ecosystems.
Importance of biodiversity
Environmental problems : Earth functions like a complex system with very complex components that affect each other. Each species -- from the lowliest microbe to humans -- plays a part in keeping the planet running smoothly. In this sense, each part is related. If a lot of those parts suddenly vanish, then the machine that is Earth can't function properly.
For example, the crops that we grow though our clever use of agriculture are enabled by the nitrogen present in the soil. This nitrogen nourishes and strengthens our crops. But where does it come from? Worms, bacteria and other life found within the soil love to decompose vegetation. When they eat, these organisms produce nitrogen as waste. This nitrogen is used to make soil rich.
If we have a small bottle with a group of dominating predators and prey together, soon they will both die out because there is no sustainability. Likewise, if humans manipulate the environment and decrease biodiversity, our environmental sustainability significantly decreases.
Economic Importance of Biodiversity:
• Biologically diverse ecosystems are typically more productive than non-diverse ones because they contain a wider array of resources, and it is impossible for us to use up all of them at once.
• Biodiversity provides many different resources that can be exploited economically, such as fibres wood, fuels, rubber, and silk.
• Many medicines are made from extracts taken from the Amazon rainforest
• Biodiverse environments can often be used as tourist attractions
• The Amazon rainforest is one of the most dominant rubber-producers in the world
• Illegal biological trade exploiting wildlife
• Wood industry
• payments for ecological services rendered by the Amazon such as the carbon retaining in its forests could go a long way to preserving them, a new study has found.