Ecological community: definition and characteristics

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One of the terms that best define and exemplify the importance of environmental conservation and the impact that this protection has on all species is "ecological community". However, although we can all get an idea of what this term means, it is important to delve into understanding it well to know how to correctly identify it and know the details that surround it. If you want to learn a little more about what is an ecological community, its definition and its characteristics, continue reading Green Ecologist and we will tell you.

What is an ecological community and its characteristics

When we talk about ecological community, or biocenosis, biotic community or biological community, we are referring to the set of living beings that inhabit the same place. This place is called biotope (literally, place for life) and constitutes the space and the most primary support of the ecological community.

In this way, when we speak of an ecological community we are talking about something that has the definition of a group of living things of many species and biological types (microorganisms, plants and animals) that live in a related way in the same space. It is a structure that must be understood as a whole, and not as a mere sum of individual beings, since it is precisely in that vision of the whole, or holistic view, where the ecological community finds its highest value.

How important is an ecological community

Traditionally, we are used to studying and understanding individuals as a closed whole and completely defined by themselves. But, when we talk about ecological community, the aspect that requires greater attention is not the individual as a living being, but precisely the relationships established by the individual with the other individuals of its biotope, or place in which it inhabits. In fact, the value derived from understanding what an ecological community is is determined by understanding that individuals from the same community survive as a whole, since they establish different relationships with each other and that, together, allows life to survive and prosper in the biotope in which it is found.

The ecological community highlights the relationship that exists between the different species of living beings that coexist in the same habitat. These relationships are established in all areas, from the trophic chain (the food chain), to much more subtle aspects, such as the symbiotic relationships that are established between some bacteria and some animals, between plants that serve as a refuge for some animals, or the way some carnivores avoid overpopulation of herbivorous species that would affect plant life.

As you can see, the word that best describes and exemplifies the great value of ecological communities is "balance". The ecological balance refers to a state in which, having movement and dynamism, the whole remains orderly. That is exactly what happens with ecological communities. They are spaces full of life and biological activity, but thanks to the fact that all species act in balance with each other and with the biotope that supports the entire structure, they do not develop in a self-destructive or invasive way. This allows a continuous and sustainable development, which guarantees the biological richness and success of all species that are integrated into the ecological community, without their individual activity leading to the destruction of other species.

How can ecological communities be conserved

Naturally, the species that causes the most damage to ecological communities is humans, since their activity tends to destabilize the balance that characterizes these types of communities. However, if the way of relating to the ecological community is changed, as well as establishing a series of guidelines when carrying out the activities that we carry out as a species, we will be able to minimize negative human impact on ecological communities of any type:

Avoid overexploitation

Overexploitation is defined by an exploitation of natural resources above the amount that the ecosystem is capable of supporting. Carrying out a responsible exploitation of resources protects the ecological community that depends on them.

Avoid overcrowding

In a deeper sense, any overexploitation usually has a background of overpopulation and, in this, the human being is an expert. It is important to assume that the natural resources of any ecosystem are limited and, consequently, it is important to avoid overpopulation situations that, necessarily, will lead to a depletion of non-renewable natural resources.

Avoid the introduction of invasive species

Each ecological community has been formed from thousands, and even millions, of years of evolution that have led to the current balance. The introduction of new biological agents (microbes, plants, animals, etc.) tends to destabilize any ecological community, so it is important to avoid the introduction of invasive species in other ecological communities.

Create protected areas of high biological value

Not all ecological communities are the same. Those that have a greater number of species are considered to be more important than those that have fewer, as well as those that have indigenous species that are not found elsewhere. These communities require greater protection than those in which the biological wealth is not so special and particular. Thus, the best way to protect these biological communities is to isolate them from certain human actions, which is achieved by determining protected areas.

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