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Environment - Meaning, Definition, Drawing, Food Chain and Importance

The environment can be defined as all the things that are present around us, including living and non-living things like water, soil, plants and animals and the adaptation of these living and non-living things to their surroundings. The environment is what makes the Earth habitable and different from all the other planets. The term 'Environment' comes from the French term environ, meaning 'surrounding'.

Environment may be classified into two main components:

  • Natural and physical phenomena that occur in the environment naturally. These include climate, water, air, radiation, etc.
  • Micro-organisms, soil, rocks, vegetation, atmosphere, etc., are phenomena that are not disturbed by the living things and are found to stay within their respective boundaries.

All things present in the environment are broadly classified into two main components:

  1. Biotic components: All living organisms are called biotic components.

    Examples: Man, animals, plants, algae, fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc.

  2. Abiotic components: All the non-living things present in the environment are called abiotic components. Abiotic components are essential for the survival or abiotic components.

    Examples: soil, water, air, etc.

Ecosystems

An ecosystem can be defined as the region that includes the living organisms like plants, algae, fungi and animals and other non-living things. Living organisms interact with each other and also with their surrounding non-ling things like soil, water, air, weather, climate, etc. In short, an ecosystem is the mix of both biotic and abiotic components.

Ecosystems are further classified into two types:

  • Natural: The ecosystem that are naturally existing and not manmade is called a natural ecosystem. Forests, grasslands, lakes, deserts, mountains, oceans, rivers, etc. are a few examples of natural ecosystems.
  • Artificial: Man-made ecosystem is called an artificial ecosystem. Gardens, aquariums, crop fields, parks, zoos, aquariums, etc., are a few examples of artificial ecosystems.

Food Chain

The food chain is the representation of how organisms that depend on each other for food.

A typical food chain has the following parts:

  • Sun:

    The sun becomes the foremost and the most important part of the food chain. It gives energy to all the living creatures of the planet.

  • Producers:

    Producers are the organisms capable of producing food in the presence of sunlight. All green plants, cyanobacteria, phytoplankton and algae are autotrophic capable of synthesizing their own food.

  • Consumers:

    Consumers are the organisms depending on producers or other organisms for food. They form the largest part of the food web because that most living organisms fall under this category. Consumers can further be divided into primary, secondary and tertiary consumers. Herbivores are the primary consumers that depend on plants. The carnivores or the secondary consumers depend herbivores. Then comes a category called parasites. These organisms thrive by living on another organism and thereby destroying it. Lastly, we come to the scavengers who feed on the dead organisms.

  • Decomposers:

    Decomposers help in the decomposition of dead or waste organic material. These organisms derive energy from decomposition. They help in completing a food chain.

Trophic Levels

Trophic levels are the specific levels assigned to each member of the food chain.

The various trophic levels are:

  1. T1 – producers
  2. T2 – primary consumers or herbivores
  3. T3 – secondary consumers or primary carnivores
  4. T4 – tertiary consumers or secondary carnivores
  5. T5 – quaternary consumers or tertiary carnivores.
  6. Decomposers

Food Pyramids

Food pyramids are a graphical representation of all the food chains arranged in the form of a pyramid. It always starts with the producers.

The food pyramids are further classified as:

  • Pyramid of biomass:

    This pyramid represents the biomass of every trophic level. The pyramid can be either straight or inverted.

  • Pyramid of energy:

    This pyramid represents the energy flow from one trophic level to another trophic level. This pyramid is always upright.

  • Pyramid of number:

    This pyramid provides us with the number of organisms that are available at each trophic level. This type of pyramid can also either be inverted or upright.

Importance of Environment

  • The environment plays a vital role in the well-being and existence of all living creatures on this planet.
  • We, as humans, depend on the environment for numerous resources such as water, air, food, etc.

The rising cases of climate change, an increase in the number of industries, global warming, and pollution are causing dramatic changes in the environment. Hence, we should take measures to try and protect our environment from getting destroyed. Therefore, it is our moral right to protect and save our environment.

 

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