Ecological Community: Definition and Characteristics

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Ecological Community: Definition and Characteristics

What is an ecological community and its characteristics

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

In this way, when we speak of ecological community we are talking about something that has the definition of a group of living beings 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 overall vision, or holistic vision, that the ecological community finds its highest value.

How important is an ecological community

Traditionally, we are accustomed to studying and understanding individuals as a whole, closed and defined completely by themselves. But, when we speak of ecological community, the aspect that requires greater attention is not the individual as a living being, but precisely the relationships that the individual establishes with the other individuals of his biotope, or place in which he lives. In fact, the value that comes from understanding what an ecological community is is determined by the understanding that individuals from the same community survive as a whole, since they establish different relationships among themselves and that, together, allow life Survive and prosper in the biotope where you are.

The ecological community highlights the relationship that exists between the different species of living beings that live 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, among plants that serve as a refuge for some animals, or the way in which some carnivores avoid the 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 equilibrium 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 the success of all the species that are integrated into the ecological community, without their individual activity entailing the destruction of other species.

How ecological communities can be conserved

Naturally, the species that causes the most damage to ecological communities is the human being, since their activity tends to destabilize the balance that characterizes this type of community. 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 the negative impact of the human being in the ecological communities of any kind:

Avoid overexploitation
Overexploitation is defined by 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 overpopulation
In a deeper sense, any overexploitation usually has a background of excess population and, in that, 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 situations of overpopulation 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. It is considered that those that have a greater number of species are more important than those that have less, as well as those that have autochthonous species that are not found in other places. These communities require greater protection than those in which biological wealth is not so special and particular. In this way, 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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