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What are Various Types of Natural Ecosystem?

Natural ecosystem is a community of living and non-living organisms, where each component interacts together as a unit through biological, physical and chemical processes. The distinctiveness of natural ecosystems is that they are purely natural and their formations are not in any way influenced by human activity.

The reason for pointing this out is because ecosystem is an intricate term and as such, it also encompasses artificial ecosystems – influenced by human activity, which necessitates the need to differentiate the two. The components enabling the interactions that make up the natural ecosystems include soil, plants, sunlight, air, water, microorganisms and animals. The sizes and characteristics of ecosystems also vary and are thus categorized according to the notable variations.


Here is a list of the various types of natural ecosystems.

1. Tropical Rainforest Ecosystems

The tropical rainforests are found near the equator, between the tropics. These are the regions that experience very high annual rainfall and are characterized with high average temperatures. The areas also have high humidity that is lower in the dry season compared to the wet seasons.

The tropical rainforest areas have extreme biodiversity and boost some of the most unique plant and animal species in the planet. Due to their location near the equator, they offer favorable conditions for survival. However, the soils in tropical rainforest ecosystems are poor in nutrients as they are not stored for very long in the soil.

2. Taiga Ecosystem

Taiga ecosystems are also referred to as the boreal forests or snow forests. These ecosystems constitute the world’s largest land ecosystems making up 29% of the world’s forest cover. They are found throughout the high northern latitudes with considerable regional variations. Particularly, they are Subarctic-subalpine, needle-leaved forests. The Taiga ecosystems experiences extreme winters and short summers. Taiga soils are thin and poor in nutrients due to the cold which hinders the development of the soils.

3. Temperate Forest Ecosystem

The temperate forest ecosystems primarily include the temperate coniferous forests, which are evergreen and the temperate deciduous forests – the trees that lose their leaves each year. These natural ecosystems are mainly found between the tropics and in the Polar Regions. Their trees are wide leafed, large and tall. The major trees in these forests are the maple, oak, redwood, ash, birch, pine and beech. The areas have less undergrowth. The temperate rainforest experience moderate rainfall and dense humidity with mild winters.

4. Tundra Ecosystem

Tundra ecosystems are found in the Arctic and Antarctic – the Polar Regions. The vegetation in Tundra ecosystems is composed of dwarf shrubs, sedges and grass, mosses and lichens. The subsoil is permanently frozen, which makes it impossible for trees to grow in the region. The tundra is covered in marches, lakes and streams during the warm summers.

Since the Tundra ecosystems are very cold, the biodiversity is low with few plant species and land mammals adapted to the prevailing environmental conditions. Polar bears are example of the land mammals adapted to the Tundra regions. There are also numerous bird species migrating through these regions each year.

5. Shrubland Ecosystem

Shrubland ecosystems are as well known as scrubland since they are dominated by low shrubs. The ecosystem occurs as a result of a transitional plant community between regions or may also occur after a disturbance of a forest because of natural or wildfires. Other interacting factors leading to the formation of shrublands include nutrient-poor soils, aridity or drought.

Since these conditions are highly common in temperate, semi-arid, and continental climate areas, shrublands existence are predominant in these areas. Heath is a good example of shrubland found on free-draining infertile acidic soils in humid and sub-humid areas. The moorland, another example, is mostly found on the mountain regions and its species is suitable for its unique microclimate.

6. Lentic Ecosystems

These are the still water ecosystems. Lakes and the seas are good examples, but they can range from ponds to lagoons to vast oceans. These ecosystems have three regions. They include the open water zone, deep bottom regions not exposed to light, and the bottom and shore regions each with different conditions. Therefore, they host species specifically adapted to live in the regions, forming layers of different ecosystems.

7. Desert Ecosystem

Desert ecosystems are typically cold in the night and very hot during the day. They receive little to no rainfall annually. Deserts cover up to one fifth of the earth’s surface and lie in temperate zones as well. Owing to their extreme weather conditions, only a few animals live in the deserts.

A good example is the camel which is capable of storing sufficient water and withstands the heat. Many other desert animals are nocturnal, spending most of their time underground during the day. Examples include desert snakes, scorpions, desert tortoise and many other reptiles. Deserts have sparse vegetation, also adapted to the desert conditions. An example is the Cacti. Above all, desserts are further categorized into four; cold, hot and dry, semiarid, and coastal deserts.


8. Grassland Ecosystem

Grassland ecosystems include the temperate grasslands and the tropical savannahs. The soil of the temperate grassland is deep and dark with fertile upper layers, which is good for supporting plant growth. Savannahs, on the other hand, are found in warm and hot climates where the annual rainfall is very low. The soil of the savannah is porous with rapid drainage of water. The dominant vegetation is grass with scattered trees and shrubs. The ecosystem supports a large number of animal species such as the zebra, gazelle, wolves, rabbits, foxes, and coyotes.

9. Littoral Ecosystems

These ecosystems are common at the shores of lakes, rivers and seas. They are sometimes referred to as the intertidal zone where the effects of tides are minimal. The availability of water in these ecosystems enables a greater variety of plant and animal life, and the formation of extensive wetlands. Also, the high humidity as a result of evaporation supports unique types of organisms. The aquatic plants are grouped based on their tolerance to water depth; and their examples include the aquatic plants, marsh, wet meadow, and the wooded wetland.

10. Lotic Ecosystem

Any kind of moving water makes up lotic ecosystems. They range from springs to major rivers. The flow of a river is unidirectional and there is a state of continuous physical change. There is a high degree of spatial and temporal microhabitats at all scales and the variability between lotic systems is quite high.

For this reason, several plant and animal species are able to interact with the lotic systems. The plants and animals in the regions are specialized to live in the flowing conditions. Lotic ecosystems have two main zones, rapids where the water is fast and pools, where waters are deep and the currents are slower.

11. Salt Marsh

The areas regularly flooded by the tides between open saltwater and land in the upper coastal intertidal zone make up saltmarsh ecosystems. Thus, it is part of the coastal ecosystem. Its uniqueness arises because it is densely dominated by salt tolerant plants namely grasses, herbs and low shrubs. These ecosystems support a number of terrestrial animals and provide protection to the coastal areas. They also play a critical role in the aquatic food web by availing nutrients in the coastal waters.

12. Coral Reefs

The diverse underwater marine ecosystems in existence across the world’s oceans in both deep and shallow waters constitute the coral reef ecosystems. They cover about one percent of the total ocean floor. Coral reefs are the “big cities of the sea” also often referred to as the “rainforests of the sea”.

Since they have diverse and intricate marine habitats supporting a widely different numbers of marine species, coral reefs qualify as the world’s most prolific ecosystems. Notably, they act as the breeding grounds for fish and keep them safe while at the same time nourishing them with nutrients until the young ones are able to strike out in the ocean. Coral reefs also protect the ocean shores from storm damage.

13. Mangrove Swamp

Any form of shrubs or small trees growing in the coastal saline or brackish water make up the mangrove swamp ecosystems. The plants and shrubs in mangrove ecosystem are highly salt tolerant and well adapted to the harsh coastal conditions such as the low oxygen conditions of waterlogged mud. The plants also have complex root systems enabling them to cope with salt water immersion and wave action. The mangrove swamps are largely found in tropical and subtropical tidal areas.


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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Researchers Have Made a Massive Breakthrough in Coral Reef Restoration

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is under threat. It is being severely damaged each year with large areas being lost to coral bleaching. This bleaching occurs as a result of changes in the environment and has been shown to have impacts across large areas of the reefs. The Great Barrier Reef is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and UNESCO have indicated their concerns about the management of water quality on the reef to help prevent these bleaching incidents from occurring.

As the climate continues to change the bleaching will continue to occur and the effects could be even more widespread and disastrous than they currently are. Three major causes of stress for coral are higher than normal sea temperatures, increased fresh water run off reducing salinity, and poor quality water conditions usually caused by dirty run off flowing from the land into the sea.


Increased sea temperatures have recently been an issue for reefs and have made many corals more vulnerable to the effects of bleaching. The temperature only needs to be raised by one degree Celsius for a period of four weeks for there to be an impact on the coral. If it continues for a period of two months or more then the coral will begin to die.

There are many corals that have a relationship with marine algae. The algae coexist with the coral and will provide the color that is usually associated with coral on a reef. A very large part of the food that coral need is produced by this interconnected relationship. If however, the coral become stressed by environmental factors, then they will often expel the algae leaving only the clear body of the coral. This is when the impact is clearly visible because the coral loses its color and appears to be white.

The coral polyp continues to be alive but its ability to produce food has been greatly reduced. If the conditions continue then the bleached coral will die. Even if the environment improves and the coral is able to continue to exist, recreating the relationship with the algae, the coral is likely to be impacted with greater susceptibility to disease and reduced breeding capacity.

In 2016 a study warned that there was a high probability of a massive amount of coral dying as a result of environmental impacts. It had identified that over 65 per cent of shallow water coral was found dead in a survey of 60 reefs, although there were other areas that had been less severely affected.

Recently researchers have discovered a small number of reefs that are in cool regions that are largely unaffected by the increased sea temperatures. These reefs are functioning very well. They are very healthy and are capable of producing thousands of larvae which will be able to repopulate bleached reefs bringing health back to a greater area. The healthy reefs are well located with currents flowing past them that will ensure that their larvae are able to be distributed among many other reefs that had been impacted by coral bleaching.

An ecologist specializing in coral reef ecology, Professor Peter Mumby, who was working on the research team said that these 100 reefs had the capacity to meet up to 45% of the needs for coral larvae of the Great Barrier Reef. Another factor that is working to the benefit of these reefs is that they have not yet become prone to the crown of thorns star fish which feeds on the coral.

The lead author of the research paper prepared by the research team, Dr Karlo Hock stated that the discovery of these reefs did not however indicate that although the Great Barrier Reef had shown it was resilient it was not safe and was not in great condition.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation has also been working on finding a solution to assist with the recovery of the reef after bleaching events. It has funded research into artificially producing baby coral. The intention is to be able to use these baby coral to repopulate bleached areas of the great Barrier Reef as well as to be used in other reefs that have been impacted across the world.

Researchers were able to collect coral spawning samples from different areas off Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef. They were then able to use these to grow coral in controlled conditions in sea water tanks. More than 100 survived and are now growing successfully on special settlement tiles in the reef.

The leader of the project Professor Peter Harrison stated that this research showed that it was possible to start the restoration process where coral populations had been lost or where the natural supply of coral larvae had been negatively impacted. He believes that this process could be developed and that it will be possible to assist in reef recovery by using the large slicks of coral spawn containing millions of larvae which could come from different species of coral.

It seems that with more research it will be possible to reduce some of the impact currently being felt by reefs from climate change, and that these incredible ecosystems will continue to enthral new generations.


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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