Difference Between Biome and Ecosystem (With Table)

The study of biome and ecosystem comes under the branch of biology called Ecology. Ecology is the study of living organisms and their international with their biotic and abiotic environment. All organisms are arranged and classified in discrete levels of organizations. The levels of the ecological organization include individual, population, community, ecosystem, biosphere and biome.

Biome vs Ecosystem

The difference between Biome and Ecosystem lies in its level of organization. Biome is a larger ecological concept, while the ecosystem is a part of the biome. While biome refers to a larger geographical area with a distinct climate, flora and fauna. Ecosystem refers to a small section of organisms interacting inside the biome.

Biome is a naturally occurring, large geographical area with a distinct climate and plant and animal species adapted to the specific climate. It is the highest level of organization characterized by various abiotic ( climate, pH, light intensity etc.) and biotic factors (flora and fauna).

An ecosystem is an interacting unit of living species with their environment. The various units of the ecosystem, namely the biological community and the abiotic community, interact with each other to form a bubble of life that is often self-regulatory.

Comparison Table Between Biome and Ecosystem

Parameters of ComparisonBiomeEcosystem
MeaningBiome is a large area of land or water or both governed by similar climatic conditions. An ecosystem is an ecological organization in which biotic and abiotic communities or entities interact.
Size Biomes are usually comprised of a large geographical area. Ecosystems are comparatively smaller geographical areas and may be as small as a fish tank.
Climate Biomes are classified according to the climate prevailing in the area and how it affects the organisms living in it. Hence climate governs the biomes. Ecosystems are not governed and classified according to the climate of the area.
Interaction of comprising units All units in a biome may or may not interact with each other due to large distances between them.All units of an ecosystem interact with each other as they are closely related and interlinked.
Made of A large number of ecosystems form biospheres. Many biospheres form a biome.Ecosystems are made of various species communities interacting with each other and their environments.
Latitude Biomes are affected by latitude as latitudinal positions affect the temperature, rainfall and climate of an area. Ecosystems are not affected by latitude.
ExamplesThe savannas, tundra, taiga, wetland forest are some examples of biomes. A pond ecosystem, a forest ecosystem are some examples of ecosystems.

What is Biome?

The term biome was first suggested by Clements, which meant “geographical province”. Biome is a large geographical area that has its distinct climate and organisms that are adapted to that particular climate. In simple terms, it’s a large piece of land or water between a latitudinal difference where the climate remains the same.

Various ecosystems exist in a biome. A large variety of organisms also coexist in a biome. It is, however, not necessary that each unit, if a biome, interacts with each other. Biomes consist of biota, which means the total number of organisms present in a geographical region or time period. As the area under consideration is large, the biota of a biome is practically huge, comprising related and non-related organisms.

According to Allee (1949), terrestrial biome types are :

  1. Tundra
  2. Taiga
  3. Deciduous forest
  4. Grasslands
  5. Desert
  6. High plateaus
  7. Tropical forest
  8. Minor terrestrial biomes

Even aquatic biomes are divided into freshwater and marine biomes. The marine biome is the largest present biome in the world.

What is Ecosystem?

An ecosystem is a self-regulatory, interconnected, interactive unit of organisms and their non-living environment. It studies their interrelation. Each unit of an ecosystem directly or indirectly interacting with each other through trophic levels or food webs. Ecosystems are not climate centric rather, they are defined by geographical definitions. Thus latitude also does not matter.

Ecosystems may be small or large. An artificial fish tank is also an ecosystem, while a tropical rainforest is also an ecosystem with its characteristics of organisms and food webs. The structure of an ecosystem depends on its biotic and abiotic components. Each ecosystem differs from the other by the structure of these components.

Ecosystems are broadly classified into:

  1. Natural Ecosystems like pond ecosystems, river ecosystems, forest ecosystems, marine ecosystems.
  2. Artificial Ecosystems like an artificial pond, a fish tank or even a rotting wood log.

Natural Ecosystems themselves can be divided into:

  1. Aquatic Ecosystem
  2. Terrestrial Ecosystem

Main Differences Between Biome and Ecosystem

  1. Biome is a naturally occurring geographical area while ecosystems can be natural or artificial
  2. Biomes are comparatively larger areas of landmass or water bodies grouped based on some physical factor, mostly climate and latitude. Ecosystems, on the other hand, are smaller areas of interactive organisms and their immediate environment.
  3. Many ecosystems make up a biome, while many living communities and their environments make up an ecosystem.
  4. In a biome, each organism doesn’t need to interact with each other as they are separated by large distances and other physical barriers. In ecosystems, all organisms are closely related and work together to form a self-regulatory unit or trophic levels and food webs. Usually, animals adapted to the same ecological condition and having interlinked niches exist in an ecosystem.
  5. Biomes are classified according to their climate, while ecosystems are classified according to their interacting biotic and abiotic entities.

Conclusion

Although Biomes and Ecosystems both are a part of levels of ecological organization, they have their similarities and differences. Biome is a wider ecological concept, while an ecosystem is a part of the larger biome complex. Ecosystems make up the biome. Such ecological classification helps us group animal and plant species into categories which makes their study and comparison easier.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/BF02861083.pdf
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01239.x
  3. https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1890/09-1552.1
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2D vs 3D