23 TYPES of ECOSYSTEMS - Classification and examples

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In our quest to better understand nature, human beings use the study of ecosystems as one of the most important functional units and tools that allow us to describe, from an ecological point of view, any corner of the planet. The concept of ecosystem was established by Roy Clapham in 1930, with the aim of having a specific term that would collect the interrelationships that are established between the communities of living beings and the physical environment that surrounds them.

If you want to learn how many types of ecosystems there are and more about the ecosystem classification and some curiosities about them, continue reading this article by Green Ecologist about the different classes or types of ecosystems that exist, in which you will also see images of ecosystems of each type.

What is an ecosystem - simple definition

The simplest definition of an ecosystem would be that of a highly complex biological system which includes each and every one of the different interactions that occur, both between living beings, and between these and the environment in which they are.

Ecosystems thus collect a whole series of intraspecific (between individuals of the same species) and interspecific (between individuals of different species) interactions, based on the different resources that the ecosystem itself provides to living beings, and the various energy flows that in it they are given. In these other Green Ecologist articles you can find information about what are intraspecific relationships with examples and interspecific relationships, their types and examples.

In addition, with this other post you can delve into What is an ecosystem. In the next sections we will see what types of ecosystems exist to learn more about the main ecosystems of the Earth, their characteristics and complex varieties.

Ecosystem types - general classification

You ask yourself how ecosystems are classified? The truth is classify the different ecosystems the planet has been a difficult task faced by many ecologists throughout history. At present, the most general classifications of the different types of ecosystems allow them to be distinguished according to the environment in which they occur. In this way, the general classification of the types of ecosystems that exist in nature is between natural and artificial and within the natural ones there are several.

  • Terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Aquatic ecosystems.
  • Mixed ecosystems (water-land) and air-ground (air-land).
  • Modified landscape artificial or non-natural ecosystems (created by humans).

Next, we will see more about these ecosystem classes one by one.

Terrestrial ecosystems and their types

Terrestrial ecosystems occupy only 30% of the Earth's territory. These are divided in turn, from largest to smallest occupied territory in terrestrial ecosystems from:

  • Deserts (30%).
  • Tropical savannas and grasslands such as steppes, meadows and grasslands (20%).
  • Jungles (23%).
  • Forest ecosystem, that is, temperate forests and tundras (17%).
  • Crop areas (10%).

In the ecosystem images below, you can see the ones in this list in order. In addition, we recommend that you consult these other posts to expand your knowledge about them types of ecosystems:

  • What is a terrestrial ecosystem and its characteristics.
  • Types of terrestrial ecosystems with examples.

Aquatic ecosystems

The aquatic ecosystems They are characterized by the presence of water as the main physical component. This water can be sweet or salty, thus allowing to differentiate between marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Marine ecosystems

  • Oceans
  • Seas
  • Reefs
  • Shallow coastal waters
  • Estuaries
  • Coastal saltwater lagoons

Freshwater ecosystems

  • Lakes
  • Ponds
  • Rivers
  • Streams
  • Springs

There is another more specific classification of aquatic ecosystems, in which we can distinguish between lotic ecosystems (in which there is the movement of the waters towards a single direction), and the lentic ecosystems (with stagnant water totally or partially). Here you can learn more about lotic ecosystems: what they are and examples and lentic ecosystems: what they are and examples.

You can learn much more by entering these other posts:

  • What is an aquatic ecosystem.
  • Freshwater aquatic ecosystems: definition and examples.
  • What are the saltwater aquatic ecosystems.

Mixed ecosystems

As we have mentioned previously, ecosystems are located on certain terrains of the planet, so it is very common that sometimes there are intersections between different types of terrain, thus constituting the so-called "mixed ecosystems". These can be constituted by the presence of land of water and land, or of land and air (air-ground ecosystems).

Thus, the main types of mixed ecosystems that exist in nature are:

  • Wetlands
  • Mangroves
  • Marshes.
  • Coasts.

Here you can discover more information about What is a mixed ecosystem and below you will see the images of mixed ecosystems in the order of the list.

Artificial ecosystems

With increasing frequency and speed, various artificial ecosystems exist throughout the planet. In front of the natural ecosystems that we have been seeing throughout the article, in the artificial ecosystems, the characteristics of the terrain in which they appear and their components are determined by the action of the human being. Therefore, we can also refer to artificial ecosystems by the name of anthropic or humanized ecosystems, as well as ecosystems unnatural.

The main types of artificial ecosystems are:

  • Urban ecosystems.
  • Agricultural or agricultural ecosystems.
  • Dam or reservoir ecosystems.

Learn more about this topic with this other post about the Artificial Ecosystem: what it is and examples.

Now that you know the types or classes of ecosystemsWe recommend you watch the video of our YouTube channel that you will see below and continue learning about nature with this other article by Green Ecologist about the Differences between ecosystem and biome.

If you want to read more articles similar to Types of ecosystems, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

  • Flores, F. J; Agraz, C. & Benítez, D. (2007) Coastal aquatic ecosystems: importance, challenges and priorities for their conservation. National Institute of Ecology, Mexico, pp: 147-155.
  • Sánchez, O. et. al., (2007) Fundamental concepts on ecosystems. Perspectives on the conservation of aquatic ecosystems in Mexico. National Institute of Ecology: Mexico. pp: 37-46.
  • García, J.E. (2003). Investigating the ecosystem. Research at School Magazine, 51, 83-100.
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