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What is an ecosystem?

Økosystem trål

Et økosystem kan defineres som “et dynamisk kompleks av planter, dyr og mikroorganismer som i samspill med det ikke-levende miljø utgjør en funksjonell enhet”.

Photo: Erlend Astad Lorentzen / IMR

Ecosystem is often described in the form of energy transfer between levels in the food chain. But behind the energy transfer there is a game of life and death between predators and prey. This game, in which each individual try to make the best possible for himself in terms of spreading their genes, results in the so-called interaction in nature. This is a fascinating interaction both to explore and manage.

An ecosystem can be defined as "a dynamic complex of plants, animals and microorganisms that, in interaction with the non-living environment, constitute a functional entity". Ecosystems are not closed systems, and this applies to ecosystems in the ocean where currents greatly contribute to the exchange of organisms between different oceans and ecosystems. Nevertheless, the marine ecosystems are characterized by the fact that the dynamics within the system are more important than the import and export of organisms. The framework conditions for the ecosystem are laid by the physical environment, which includes the bottom depth and type as well as the characteristics of the ocean in the form of temperature, salt and current. Geographical location is also essential for the degree of seasonality in, for example, light.