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[Ecosystem] [Column]2.The Love of Ecosystem_Lee Sang-Dohn

by Eco Generation | 21-03-2012 09:33 Comments 22 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

The Love of Ecosystem


Prof. Lee Sang-Dohn at College of Environment Studies, Ewha Womans' University



1. Who are the members of ecosystem?


Ecosystem is as important as managing our life. Our daily life has an inseparable connection with ecosystem. Then, what are the composing factors of ecosystem? Ecosystem consists of 3 biological factors, the producer, consumer, and decomposer, and nonliving things are surrounding the environment where living things exist in.


To explain more about the nonliving things, they are every abiotic element that forms ecosystem, such as water, temperature, sunlight, carbon dioxide, soil, and oxygen. Producer signifies green plant that generally synthesizes sunray, carbon dioxide, and water into organic matter. It is a blessing that this phenomenon creates organic matter from nonliving things that we can use. Water plants, phytoplankton, and plants on land containing chlorophyll belong to this group and they produce starch through photosynthesis. Since consumer is a living body who depends on the producer because it cannot synthesize living things, it is called as heterotrophic organism.


When you look at the ecosystem, the composition of biocenosis or number of entities is normally in stable condition. Conditions like these are because the food web is in stable equilibrium. For example, when abiological elements like temperature or amount of rainfall in certain region becomes better, the number of plant species increase and the number of herbivorous animals increase as well.


But when herbivorous animals increase at one point, their food which is plant becomes scarce, and as a result, the number of animal will decrease too.  If you look at it from different perspective, when density of a region gets higher as the number of living things increase, there will be a competition to secure their living space and the number of individual beings become fewer at the end. As explained, it is normal for species and the number of individual beings within one ecosystem to maintain consistent level at always, and this is called the equilibrium of ecosystem. In other words, ecosystem maintains certain number of individual beings because of limited food resources and space.




2. What is the Law of Thermodynamics?


Substances circulate within the ecosystem but energy flows. It is the same principle as how water flows from high to low places. Meaning, water moves due to potential energy. Basically, energy in ecosystem starts from solar energy, goes through photosynthesis, is stored as chemical energy that living things can use, and converts into thermal energy through respiration at the end. This process is explained as a principle of energy traveling along the food web, and the main usage of energy differ according to the structure particles, plants, herbivores, and carnivores. Here, the living things that reached the end of lifespan convert into different type of energy by decomposers. There is a law of energy that needs to be applied to the ecosystem during this process. First, there is The First Law of Thermodynamics and it is called as the law of conservation of energy. The law of conservation of energy, by definition, is that the shape of every energy changes, but the total amount is always the same. When this is applied to the ecosystem, energy conversion takes place in food pyramid stage but the sum of total energy is same as initial energy. It means the amount of energy that living things use through solar energy is always the same. 


Secondly, there is The Second Law of Thermodynamics. This is also called as the law of entropy increase (degree of randomness). Entropy increases as the energy efficiency decreases in food pyramid stage. Energy that is converted into the next stage in food pyramid is just 1/10. This is why the food pyramid cannot exceed 3~4 stages and this is because the energy efficiency is as low. The shape of energy converts when it flows from high (ex: high temperature) to low (ex: low temperature) places, and we use this principle to get every type of motive power.   


For example, we operate steam engine by boiling water, turn the engine on to operate car by burning gasoline, and release bio-energy by eating food. We can apply the phenomenon of environmental pollution to increase entropy. Every type of energy always generates waste in the process of generating required energy. It is because no machinery with 100% energy efficiency can exist. Every natural energy conversion process always responds to the disorganized side because useless waste forms when energy converts by The Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the term used to represent this disorder is entropy in Greek. To summarize the 2 energy principles that can be applied to the ecosystem, the light energy that plants absorbed through photosynthesis converts into chemical energy of organisms and energy itself is preserved, but as it moves to the higher trophic level, it converts into thermal energy that cannot be used.     



3. What are the roles of ecologists?


I have explained about the elements and structure of ecosystem. It was a little troublesome because I explained ecosystem too structurally, right? But ecosystem is a very grand and beautiful place as it is a space where living things live in. We have to adapt and adjust to the principles of ecosystem because we humans are also components of ecosystem. But people continue to destroy nature to obtain energy, exploit forest, reclaim marshland, and damage habitat space of living things. Many living organisms are not happy about these human behaviors. These complaints are expressed in languages of their own.


Then, who can understand them? Ecologists are the ones who explain these complaints by changing what these species want to tell to us into our language. Because this is a way for us to hear and understand what different species are trying to imply. Approximate number of living things on earth today is 13 to 14 million, and what people know of is a mere 13%. For this reason, we set a date for ?a day of biodiversity conservation? on May 22th every year. Conservation of diversity and species of nature! This is essential for sustainable growth of mankind.





Jasmine Karki

  • Jasmine Karki says :
    Wow , great!!
    Awesome to go through it!!
    Posted 31-03-2020 02:52

  • says :
    Good read. Thumbs up
    Posted 31-10-2016 19:11

  • says :
    Great and extremely useful, thanks!
    Posted 27-11-2015 22:10

  • says :
    Great one!
    Posted 25-11-2014 18:24

  • says :
    Thanks for sharing!
    Posted 03-11-2014 10:18

  • says :
    good info
    Posted 31-12-2013 20:21

  • says :
    thanks for this
    Posted 31-12-2013 00:22

  • says :
    nice share
    Posted 30-12-2013 03:05

  • says :
    Posted 27-12-2013 22:39

  • says :
    there is very deep love to us for ecosystem
    Posted 27-12-2013 03:03

  • says :
    very much informative
    Posted 22-12-2013 22:46

  • says :
    i now understand the fundamental of ecosystem
    Posted 16-12-2013 20:27

  • says :
    nice information
    Posted 15-12-2013 01:24

  • says :
    Thanks for sharing
    Posted 31-08-2013 03:46

  • says :
    Thanks for the information.
    Posted 23-07-2013 22:05

  • says :
    thanks for the info.
    Posted 20-07-2013 02:57

  • says :
    great information!
    Posted 19-07-2013 02:27

  • says :
    Correct, manpower survival on the whole is directly linked to Ecosystem
    Posted 17-06-2013 23:28

  • says :
    Thanks for your recommendation EJin!
    Posted 25-02-2013 10:14

  • says :
    If you want to learn more about the relationship between the environment and the second the law of thermodynamics, you should read about Jeremy Lifkin's "Entropy"
    Posted 22-02-2013 15:14

  • says :
    Thanks for sharing this information.
    Posted 14-01-2013 12:04

  • says :
    Ecosystem is the fundamental of biodiversity.
    Posted 01-11-2012 19:47

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