Difference Between Environment and Ecosystem

Environment vs Ecosystem

With so much emphasis on environment these days and movements like save environment and reduce environmental pollution drawing the attention of governments and people alike, it is normal for most of us to confuse between the concepts of environment and ecosystem. Though both environment and ecosystem are deeply interrelated terms concerned with nature, there are many differences between them that will be talked about in this article. Let us take a closer look.

Ecosystem refers to a biological community that occurs in some place or geographical region and consists of both biotic and abiotic components that collectively make up its environment. An ecosystem may vary greatly in size from a colony of ants to a very big pond, grassland, or a huge rainforest. An ecosystem has clearly demarcated physical boundaries though they may not be obvious to us (for example shore line in the case of a pond). Researchers often need to draw boundaries of an ecosystem for the purpose of their study. Study of ecosystems is a special branch of ecology and is known as ecosystem ecology. This is a study that links biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem. We know that ecology is interaction of organisms with one another and the environment in which they occur, and when this study is done at the level of a ecosystem, it is called ecosystem ecology.

When an ecosystem is studied, the focus is on understanding the system on the whole and it is not that a particular species or an organism is studied. This includes functional aspects such as energy consumption and its production, interdependence of biotic components on abiotic components, the links of food chain and food web, and the factors that are important for the sustenance of the ecosystem.

When we talk of environment, we are mostly concerned with that part of the ecosystem that makes up the atmosphere. Environment is a concept different from eco system as it talks about surroundings and not about organisms and their interactions with other organisms. Generally abiotic components are taken into consideration when one refers to environment such as ozone layer, global warming, pollution of rivers, pollution of air etc.

The way we use the word environment when we say save environment or environmental pollution, is to mean ecosystem. Though used somewhat erroneously, the word environment draws up images of nature and the organisms in an ecosystem which is what one means to save when he says save environment.

In brief:

Difference Between Environment and Ecosystem

• Environment means our surroundings and it does not include organisms

• When we use the word environment, we do it erroneously when we mean to say ecosystem

• Ecosystem refers to an independent system comprising both abiotic and biotic components and their relationship with each other.