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Time and again, great philosophers have mentioned that a peaceful co-existence is the result of constant equilibrium. The perfect balance of emotions, actions and also the perfect balance of nature is something that allows all creatures in this universe to sustain peacefully. But what exactly do we mean by balance of nature or balance within nature? What in nature needs balance to ensure the better existence of all its components? Read on for this blog covers all aspects of the balance of nature.
The balance of nature is often referred to as the ecological balance. If we go as per the bookish definition of ecological balance, it can be said that –
Ecological balance can be referred to as the state of dynamic equilibrium within a specific organism community, where genetics, species and ecosystem diversity remain stable and are subject to gradual changes. But these changes are only through natural successions.
Ecological balance, in a way, also refers to a stable balance in the number of each species present in the ecosystem. This equilibrium could be upset by the arrival of new species, the unexpected extinction of some species, natural disasters, or man-made causes.
Here’s an interesting example for you to understand how ecological imbalance occurs –
Salmon have a treasure trove of nutrients in their tissues. After being born in freshwater streams, they migrate hundreds of kilometres to reach the ocean, where they eat a variety of marine life and gain weight. When they return to the stream to lay their eggs, they bring this wealth of ocean nutrients back with them. Soon after this, salmons die. However, when salmon pass away, decomposers unleash the riches of nutrients locked inside their bodies, which plants can easily consume and animals can benefit from when they eat the plants.
Unfortunately, human disturbances have led to a decline in salmon stocks. The decline of salmon is causing a disruption in the ecosystem. This is because they no longer bring the ocean’s nutrients to the stream. Without these nutrients, plants struggle to grow and provide food for animals and insects. As a result, the decline in plant growth leads to fewer animals and insects available for birds to feed on. Ultimately, the loss of salmon causes a significant ecological imbalance.
As humankind keeps on removing trees to use the land for other purposes, this impacts the balance of soil ecology as well as the water level balance, leading to water scarcity.
The idea of a balanced ecosystem is based on the understanding that the natural world is primarily a product of the temporal, geographical, and cultural lenses through which humans see and interact with it. For a variety of reasons, people have come to believe that the world around us maintains equilibrium through its natural course of events, and when this balance is hampered, we try to restore it.
The assumptions of human centrality may bend the generally clear lens provided by science in this circumstance, influencing how we understand the balance of nature in our culture. Since Frederick Clements and Henry Gleason concentrated on the argument in the 1920s, the subject of balance in nature has been formally criticised in ecology for almost 65 years. Nonetheless, the core of science did not shift until around 25 years ago. Since then, a dynamic approach to ecological theorising has dominated, paying little regard to equilibrium processes.
The stability of the ecosystem and the continued survival and existence of species both depend on ecological balance. The ecosystem’s necessary natural equilibrium may be upset by environmental risks, the untimely extinction of a particular species, anthropogenic causes, or the introduction of new species.
Ecological balance is a state of dynamic equilibrium within an ecosystem where species, genetic diversity, and ecological diversity persist in a stable state despite slow changes brought on by natural succession. Resilience and resistance are two characteristics that define the stability of the ecosystem. When species are harmed or destroyed, an ecosystem’s resilience property emerges. Resilience can also refer to the speed at which an ecosystem’s population density returns to balance following a specific perturbation. The term “resistance” refers to an ecosystem’s capacity to withstand pressures like high pollution levels or drought without the animal population and trees dying.
When organisms interact, diversity is preserved, and over time, the population density of the entire ecosystem may change depending on whether a particular species is improved or destroyed. Some species, like the sea otter, are regarded as keystone species because they are important in preserving ecological balance.
Ecological equilibrium ensures that all organisms can survive. Due to the development of beneficial environments, numerous species are still present. Every organism prospers and multiplies as expected in a favourable ecosystem. They receive enough food to sustain their lives. The maintenance of ecological balance is crucial for the survival of the creatures. It makes sure that no one species is abused or exploited. To avoid excessive forest damage, for instance, human activities like farming and resource extraction are restricted. Drought is a result of deforestation. Insufficient food is produced as a result of drought. Lack of food causes famine and later death, which decreases the number of animals.
Ecological balance also guarantees the stability of the environment and living things. It fosters an environment that is favourable for organism growth and proliferation. It improves an environment that is stable and free from ecological imbalances like flood, hunger brought on by a drought, a windstorm that might wipe out everything, and predator overhunting.
Two significant components of the ecosystem that are in constant communication with one another are the biotic and the abiotic components. And creating a balance between these two is also very crucial for a healthy ecosystem.
Biologic components are the parts of an ecosystem that are alive. Plants, animals, fungi, and microbes are a few of these factors. Based on the source of energy needed, these biotic components can be further divided into categories. The three main groups of biotic components are – Producers, Consumers & Decomposers.
Producers in the ecosystem are plants, which can meet their own energy needs through photosynthesis when sunlight and chlorophyll are present. Plants provide all other living things with the food and oxygen they need to function.
Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores are examples of consumers. The living things that eat plants are called herbivores. Carnivores consume other living things. Animals that can consume both plant and animal tissue are called omnivores.
Fungi and bacteria, which are saprophytes, are the decomposers. They consume the decomposing organic stuff and transform it into nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Recycling nutrients for subsequent use by the producers, i.e., plants, is greatly aided by the saprophytes.
Abiotic components are the physical, chemical, and/or biological forces that affect living things at any stage of their existence. These are additionally referred to as ecological factors. The environment is characterised by its physical and chemical elements. An ecosystem’s abiotic elements include light, air, soil, and nutrients.
The abiotic elements differ between different ecosystems. The abiotic parameters in an aquatic ecosystem may include the pH of the water, sunshine, turbidity, depth of the water, salinity, accessible nutrients, and dissolved oxygen. Similar to aquatic ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems are influenced by abiotic variables such as soil, soil types, temperature, rain, altitude, wind, nutrients, sunlight, etc.
Suppose the equilibrium between the biotic and abiotic components is upset. In that case, the imbalance will lead to the instability of the organisms and the environment and will produce an environment that is resistant to the accumulation and expansion of organisms.
In an ecosystem, abiotic factors are essential for the survival of biotic factors. Plants require a specific combination of temperature, moisture, and soil chemistry to grow, serving as the primary food source for animals. Any disturbance in an ecosystem can affect its components, leading to the evolution or extinction of species. A healthy ecosystem maintains a flow of materials and energy, with each element interconnected. Plants, animals, and other living organisms can utilise waste products. Environmental degradation can have detrimental effects on people, so it’s crucial to take specific actions to prevent it. This includes using resources wisely and recycling used items as the main tasks.
Throughout the cycle of life on Earth, organisms and their surroundings are delicately balanced. The sun’s energy is used by plants, which later provide food for other animals. The cycle continues as plant and animal life forms perish and are eaten by germs. But this cycle of life is in danger due to human misuse of natural resources and ecosystem destruction from pollution.
Here are three ways to maintain ecological balance –
The ecosystem is under increasing stress as civilisation develops. Natural resources like minerals, fossil fuels, and other things are disappearing at an alarming rate. Loss of biodiversity brought on by overfishing and habitat destruction will adversely impact the ecosystem. Species are at risk of going extinct due to habitat loss or misuse. This is evident in marine ecosystems, where the extinction of a few species threatens the entire ecosystem’s survival. Ecological equilibrium will be preserved and protected with the support of a concerted effort to utilise natural resources sustainably.
Predators keep species from becoming overpopulated in the natural world. Sadly, no natural predators can regulate the population of humans. To manage the population, both individual and governmental action is required. This topic is crucial despite the issue’s emotional, cultural, or religious sensitivity. In the same way that having too many fish in your aquarium contaminates the water, having too many people in the world can disturb the ecological equilibrium. The Earth’s population expanded to 5 billion people between 1927 and 1987. The world’s population peaked in 1999 at 6 billion, and by 2050, it’s predicted that there will be around 9 billion people on the planet. By lowering the rate at which individuals consume natural resources, family planning and birth control will lessen the strain on the ecosystem.
The equilibrium of marine ecosystems is threatened by pollution from sewage, industrial waste, and agricultural runoff. Runoff from farms and sewers can have a variety of negative consequences on the ecology. The ecological equilibrium can be preserved by decreasing or removing pollution from nonpoint sources like roadways and fields. The rapid growth of algae in lakes and streams can be brought on by sewage and fertiliser runoff from agricultural operations. Algae blooms obstruct sunlight and reduce water oxygen levels. As a result, marine ecology has fewer naturally occurring plant species. Animals that consume the plants perish, which causes animals that eat them to perish.
Everyone can get involved in the subject of preserving the natural balance. No matter how small, you have the ability to contribute to preserving the fragile balance of the Earth’s ecology. Recycle to lessen the use of natural resources excessively. Choose vehicles and appliances with higher energy efficiency to conserve energy. Less energy use results in less pollution and less coal being used to power the world and the country. Encourage your family and friends to live daily lives with an awareness of the environment. Many people working together can help by preserving ecological equilibrium, just as many hands make light work.