Ecosystems: Diversity

Authored by: L.M. Chu

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:

10.1081/E-ENRL-120047427

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Abstract

Ecological complexity and stability are maintained by a diversity of interacting species or populations that have profound effects on the structure and function of ecosystems. At the ecosystem level, biodiversity, productivity, and nutrient cycling are closely linked, and they change dynamically across time through natural succession to form more complex and stable ecosystems. A variety of ecosystems can exist in a given place, forming a mosaic of interconnected patterns. The summation of the earth’s ecosystems forms the biosphere, the global geographical distribution of which is largely determined by climatic factors, mainly rainfall and temperature, resulting in a spectrum of plant types and productivity. Latitude and altitude are highly influential, affecting the formation of the dominant vegetation. Among the various ecosystems, tropical forests are the most productive and support the highest biodiversity. However, they are under great pressure from deforestation, which represents a major threat to biodiversity and ecosystems. Proper ecosystem management is essential to maintain our planet as a provider of different ecosystem services.

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