Difference Between Ecosystem and Community (With Table)

Every living thing around us cumulatively is known as an Ecosystem. Well, this was how we were taught by our teachers at our schools. In other words, if you want to know what an ecosystem is then you can say: an ecosystem is a community of living things in conjunction with the non-living things of our environment, which is interrelated with each other.

A community means a group having things common in them. Say suppose the Muslims are a different community. The Muslim community is recognized with its religious norm. Similarly, a community is formed when groups of people have the same values, or customs, or religion.

Ecosystem vs Community

The difference between an Ecosystem and a community is that an ecosystem includes various communities in it and they are all living and non-living things interrelated to each other, whereas a community is a species living together in a particular area. Here, the community consists of biotic factors.

Comparison Table Between Ecosystem and Community

Parameters of ComparisonEcosystemCommunity
DefinitionAn ecosystem consists of all living and non-living things of a particular environment which are interacting to each other.A community is a group of living things or organisms living in a particular geographical area with common norms.
ExamplesForests, ponds, grasslandsBirds living in same area, animals, plants
Consists ofAn ecosystem includes both living and non-living factors in an area.A community only consists of biotic factors in an area of a region.
Changes in the Environmental factorsChanges does not happen with any kind of affecting conditionsChanges may happen due to changes in environmental factors.
BroaderAn ecosystem consists of a broader level than a communityA community only consists of the biotic factors in the ecosystem

What is an Ecosystem?

When we hear the word the first thing that comes to our mind is living things and non-living things. Similarly, the term is referred to both biotic and abiotic factors in a particular regional area. Well, in an ecosystem the biotic factors consist of all the living beings like bacteria, and other small microorganisms to the big sized living things, interacting with non-living things like river, sun, mountains, air, and many others.

The interaction between living and non-living things is done to fulfil the needs of the environment. The food chain is an example of a requirement in the environment. However, most ecosystems consume energy directly from the sun itself. Photosynthesis occurs when plants trap the radiation of the sunlight (also known as autotrophs).

Heterotrophs depend on autotrophs for their food and therefore they are called primary or secondary consumers. Autotrophs are called primary producers in the ecosystem. They have the most contribution to the survival of other organisms.

When autotrophs and heterotrophs are dead then it brings in the decomposers. The decomposers like earthworm, millipede, mushrooms, use the organic matter as their energy. Well, after the first requirement is complete then the second requirement comes into effect.

The second requirement consists of nutrients recycling in an ecosystem. Some of the recycling examples are carbon cycle, water cycle, nitrogen cycle and many more. These cycles are occurred to ensure that the supply of different forms of nutrition n an ecosystem is continuous.

What is Community?

A community is also called a group of living organisms living together having common characteristics in common. Community is formed to support each other for the survival of each other. Therefore, we can define a community as the interactions between living things (biotic components) living together in a particular geographical area.

Another name for a community is ‘biological community’ because in a community the biotic factors interact with each other. These interactions are also categorised into three types: mutualism, commensalism, and predation.

When both parties benefit from each other is known as ‘Mutualism’ whereas when commensalism occurs then only one party benefits but the other party is not harmed. In the third situation, one of the party benefits while the other party is harmed thus known as ‘parasitism’.

The organism that comes under a community comes under an ecosystem. Thus, the biological community is also involved in the food chain. These organisms contribute to the recycling process as well.  

Main Differences Between Ecosystem and Community

  1. Both an ecosystem and a community are an ecological term which contributes to the food chain and recycling process of the ecosystem. Ecosystem and community describe the distribution of species in a geographical region.
  2. An ecosystem is the interaction between living and non-living components whereas a community, on the other hand, is the interaction between biotic components only.
  3. Some examples of an ecosystem are forests, ponds, coral reef, desert, rainforest, and many more whereas examples of a community would be bacteria, earthworms, fungi, mushrooms etc.
  4. Both ecosystem and a community in terms of biology are very crucial and play a vital role in the smooth flow of energy and recycling of nutrients in our environment.
  5. Ecosystem and a community are mainly differentiated by their size. An Ecosystem is a wider level than a community because a community only comprises of biotic factors.
  6. The ecosystem does not change with the changing factors of our environment but a community is affected and may change due to the changes in the environment.

Conclusion

Both these terms are two important parts of our environment. But, there since there are many differences between the two both play a crucial role in contributing to the food chain and the recycling process too.

The biosphere is the combination of all the ecosystems, communities. These living and non-living things help every other organism to survive on the planet and one way or the other we are directly dependent on them for our food.

However, the main difference is that both an ecosystem and a community is the structure of each ecological step.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.12643
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17565529.2015.1034233