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An ecosystem comprises the

geography, temperatures, rainfall,


plants and animals in a specific area.
These features include the physical,
biological and chemical aspects of a
specific habitat. Each of the types of
ecosystems have various abiotic
features, such as sunlight, soil
moisture, rainfall and temperatures.
Biotic features of an ecosystem include
interrelationships among predators,
prey and detrivores--organisms that
help to break down decaying or dead
organic matter.
Polar ecosystems are located on the
top and bottom of Earth. These
ecosystems often have flat surfaces
covered by ice for much of the year.
The precipitation is typically snow,
although it is possible to see hail or
sleet on warmer days. The animals in
polar ecosystems are specially adapted
to extreme cold. Polar animals include
penguins, polar bears, seals and arctic
birds.
Mountain ecosystems exist at high
altitudes and frequently have limited
vegetation, although bushy plants may be
evident. The landscape is rocky, but they
have some of the most beautiful ecosystem
images on Earth. Temperatures tend to be
low due to the height of the mountains.
Precipitation tends to be in the form of snow
in the higher regions, but mist and rain are
possible as well.
Relationships between prey and predators,
such as goats and foxes, play key roles in
maintaining the balance of this and other
ecosystems. Some mountain ecosystems
are home to cliff-dwelling birds and eagles.

Tundra ecosystem is similar to the


polar ecosystem. Often polar regions are
referred to as tundra zones. Tundra zones
are characterized by permafrost, or frozen
ground, and limited vegetation. Long periods
of light and darkness alternate though the
year with half the year being dark and half
the year being light. As with deserts, a harsh
environment characterizes ecosystems in
the tundra. In the snow-covered, windswept,
treeless tundra, the soil may be frozen year-
round, a condition known as permafrost.
During the brief spring and summer, snows
melt, producing shallow ponds which attract
migrating waterfowl. Lichens and small
flowers may become visible during this time
of year. The term “tundra” most commonly
denotes polar areas, but at lower latitudes,
tundra-like communities known as alpine
tundra may be found at high elevations.

Forest ecosystems are most commonly found


in mid-latitude areas between the polar regions and
the equator. Temperate ecosystems have very cold
winters and warm summers. These forests have two
types of tree growth: evergreen, which keep their
leaves all year-round, and deciduous trees, which
drop their leaves seasonally.
Temperate forest ecosystems provide shelter and
food for a large variety of animals. Rain is often
plentiful and the soil tends to be fertile, as it is not
prone to long freezing periods.

Grassland ecosystems occur in


temperate zones but they do not get enough
rain or precipitation to support a forest.
Grasslands are typically flat and have rich
soil. These ecosystems support a large
number of animals, including prey species,
such as buffalo, and predators such as
wolves.
Types of Grassland Ecosystems
A grassland consists of large rolling fields of
grasses, flowers and herbs. Grasslands
ecosystems emerge due to low levels of
sporadic precipitation that is only substantial
enough to support smaller plants. Grass
survives in these arid conditions because of its
deep and highly elaborate root system that
enables it to access moisture hidden deep in
the soil. There are two main types of
grasslands -- tropical and temperate -- with
several subcategories within each type.
Temperate Grasslands- Temperate
grasslands also have two seasons, growing
and dormant. During the dormant season, no
grass or crops grow because it's too cold.
These grasslands make for excellent farming
because of their deep and nutrient-rich soils.
Temperate grasslands receive between 25
and 75 centimeters of rain a year. The most
notable temperate grasslands are the North
American prairies, which are home to a wide
variety of wildlife, including pronghorn
antelope, mice, jack rabbits, foxes, snakes and
coyotes. Grass here can grow quite tall,
reaching up to seven meters in height. Trees
are restricted to where there is a large
concentration of water such as a river or lake.
Because of their deep rich soil, more than half
of temperate prairie grasslands have been
converted to farmland that provides a large
chunk of the world's food.
Tropical Grasslands - Tropical
grasslands are warm all year round with
established rainy and dry seasons. During
the rainy season, tropical grasslands receive
between 50 and 130 centimeters of rain.
Most notable of the tropical grasslands is the
African savanna, which has an occasional
tree and is home to many of the world's most
spectacular species, such as elephants,
giraffes, lions and zebras. Savanna grass is
usually quite short, making for excellent
grazing and hunting grounds.
Notable Grasslands - notable grassland
ecosystems are flooded grasslands, polar or
tundra grasslands, montane grasslands and
xeric or desert grasslands. Flood grasslands
are flooded seasonally or year round. These
grasslands occur mostly in subtropical and
tropical climates. The most notable flood
grassland is Florida's Everglades. Polar or
tundra grasslands occur in high to subarctic
regions. These grasslands consist mainly of
shrubs and have a very short growing season.
Montane grasslands are high-altitude
grasslands located on high mountain ranges
and valleys. A notable example of montane
grasslands is the paramo of the Andes. Xeric
or desert grasslands are very sparse
grasslands located in and on the outskirts of
deserts. Grass here is highly resistant to
disease and drought.
Desert Ecosystems
The common defining feature among desert
ecosystems is low precipitation, generally
less than 25 centimeters, or 10 inches, per
year. Not all deserts are hot – desert
ecosystems can exist from the tropics to the
arctic, but regardless of latitude, deserts are
often windy. Some deserts contain sand
dunes, while others feature mostly rock.
Vegetation is sparse or nonexistent, and any
animal species, such as insects, reptiles and
birds, must be highly adapted to the dry
conditions.

Freshwater Ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems can be found in
streams, rivers, springs, ponds, lakes, bogs
and freshwater swamps. They are
subdivided into two classes: those in which
the water is nearly stationary, such as
ponds, and those in which the water flows,
such as creeks. Freshwater ecosystems are
home to more than just fish: algae, plankton,
insects, amphibians and underwater plants
also inhabit them.

Marine Ecosystems
Marine ecosystems differ from freshwater
ecosystems in that they contain saltwater,
which usually supports different types of
species than does freshwater. Marine
ecosystems are the most abundant types of
ecosystems in the word. They encompass
not only the ocean floor and surface but also
tidal zones, estuaries, salt marshes and
saltwater swamps, mangroves and coral
reefs.