Components Of Environment
The two chief components of environment are abiotic components and biotic components.
Abiotic components are the non-living physical components which comprises inorganic materials (e.g. carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, CO2, water etc.) and dead organic matter containing proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, humic substances etc. Abiotic substances are present in soil, water and air.
All the different life forms existing in an ecosystem together constitute the biotic components. These components have specific roles in the ecosystem and on this basis they can be distinguished into producers, consumers and decomposers.
Producers include all those living organisms which can manufacture their own food material using the abiotic components of the environment. The food manufactured by these organisms is available not only for them but also for all other living components in the ecosystem.
Consumers are those organisms which cannot manufacture their own food material and hence depend directly or indirectly on producers. Animals, in any ecosystem, fall under this category.
Consumers are of three types according to the nature of their feeding habits. They are as follows:
- Primary consumers obtain their food by directly feeding on producers. Herbivorous animals such as deer, rabbits, cattle and elephants are the main primary consumers.
- Secondary consumers obtain their food by feeding on the primary consumers, e.g. fox, snake, owl, peacock etc.
- Tertiary consumers feed on secondary consumers, e.g. lion, tiger etc.
Decomposers are organisms that obtain their food by breaking down the organic substances found in the dead bodies of other organisms. By this process, decomposers return to the ecosystem the various inorganic substances utilised by other organisms. This process is called material recycling.
It is essential that these three living components, namely producers, consumers and decomposers, participate actively for the continuous functioning and stability of any ecosystem. Thus, in any ecosystem, there is a continuous flow of energy and cycling of materials. In conclusion, the abiotic and biotic components are mutually dependent for their sustenance and survival. Both of them interact with each other continuously to retain the balance in the environment.
Generally, there are three kinds of interaction occurring among the various components of the environment:
- Interaction among abiotic components.
- Interaction among biotic components.
- Interaction between abiotic and biotic components.