Natural ecosystems make up the planet on which we live as well as the entire universe. They are dynamic and interconnected. An ecosystem is a collection of all plants, animals, microorganisms, bacterium and fungus as well as the non-living components that function together as one unit in a given area. A natural ecosystems is “the complex of a community and its environment functions as an ecological unit in nature. ”(Deiterich, 2009). Both living and non-living things interact with each other in a natural ecosystem.
Heber Hot Springs outside Heber City, Utah is a good example of a natural ecosystem. Size and Function There is no limit to an ecosystem’s size and function. It can range from a small puddle to the Pacific Ocean. Ecosystems function by a series of cycles and food webs that create a flow of energy through the system. Components and Survival Ecosystems are made up of two components. These components are biotic and abiotic. Abiotic components are air, rock, water and energy. Biotic components pertain to the living entities within these systems.
Included in these are microorganisms, plants, and animals. Biotic components are broken down more specifically. These species are groups of inbreeding organisms and members of these species (group) do not breed with organisms outside of its species (group). Three main components necessary for the survival of a natural ecosystem to exist are producers, such as plants, which produce food, consumers, such as wildlife, that uses the food resources and decomposers, which recycle the nutrients within the system.
Vital components needed for the survival of an ecosystem include photosynthesis for plants to produce food, the nitrogen cycle which provides a means for plants to take in nitrogen and the hydrologic cycle where water is circulated through the ecosystem to nourish it. All of these components exist at the Heber Hot Springs. Populations and Communities Populations are comprised of the individuals of any particular species during a set time or in a set place. All the same types of microorganisms living in a puddle are a population and the community would consist of all the various types of microorganisms living within that ecosystem.
Heber Hot Springs has certain types of microorganisms living within them, but due to the extreme temperature, not a lot of microorganisms can adapt to or live within this condition, which in turn limits the amount of microorganisms that can reside there. Structural and Functional Dynamics The structure of the world’s ecosystems changed more rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century than at any time in recorded human history and virtually all of the Earth’s ecosystems have now been significantly transformed through human actions (2005, page 26).
The largest change in the structure and function of ecosystems has been the transformation of almost one quarter of Earth’s terrestrial surface to cultivated systems. An ecosystem changes over time and can undergo development through a process called succession. The processes that occur in an ecosystem are necessary for the life of the ecological community. Each member of that community has to work together to make this work, no member of this community can carry out these processes alone.
Needed Knowledge Obtaining the necessary knowledge about Heber Hot Springs structure and function has helped city and government officials to be able to maintain the area around the Hot Springs. By sending out informational packets to the residents of Heber and the surrounding towns could help this ecosystem tremendously. The information contained within the packets could help to educate the people within the community concerning the needs and conditions of the Hot Springs, as well as its surrounding area(s), so that people are able to go and enjoy the Hot Springs while showing respect to the needs and conditions of the natural ecosystem surrounding them.
Activity around the Heber Hot Springs has slowed tremendously over the past several years due to the lack of funding needed to have specialists come and test the conditions of the Hot Springs as well as from lack of consideration from visitors. A lot of damage and neglect has been sustained to the area(s) surrounding the Heber Hot Springs and hopefully people will take action and preserve the area before it diminishes down to nothing.