Dictionary > Ecosystem diversity

Ecosystem diversity

ecosystem diversity definition

Ecosystem diversity
n., plural: ecosystem diversities
[ˈiːkəʊˌsɪstəm dɪˈvɜr sɪ ti]
Definition: diversity between ecosystems in a particular location

Ecosystem Diversity Definition

What is ecosystem diversity? Ecosystem diversity deals with the study of different ecosystems in a certain location and their overall effects on humans and the environment as a whole. It is one of the types of biodiversity along with species diversity, genetic diversity, and functional diversity.

Ecosystem diversity focuses on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Also, it includes the variation of a biological community such as the number of levels of ecosystem diversity and different niches or habitat diversity, and other ecological processes.

Ecosystem diversity has a great deal on both genetic and species diversity, thus it is coined as the “largest scale of biodiversity”. Grasslands, tundras, deserts, rainforests, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, are some examples of ecosystems that are diverse and contribute a lot to creating a well-balanced environment.

The video below will further help define ecosystem diversity.

Biology definition:
Ecosystem diversity is the diversity of ecosystems in a particular geographic location.  

Impacts of Ecosystem Diversity

Why is ecosystem diversity important? A diverse environment can constantly hold environmental consequences. When a complex ecosystem is highly affected by the activities of humans and other environmental problems, there could be still a chance that the interactions among organisms can continue to exist despite the impact.

Human activities in changing ecosystem diversity

Humans are changing the original structure of ecological communities by various activities that increase the rates of species extinctions and invasions locally and globally. These modifications in Earth’s ecological communities cause a compelling concern for ecosystem diversity loss. The ecosystem’s diversity loss may be man-made or naturally-induced that can greatly affect the environment.

Species diversity loss

The results of species loss or changes in composition, and the mechanisms through which the outcomes appear themselves, can vary amongst environment properties and types, and pathways of potential community change. Species’ useful traits strongly impact environmental properties.

Functional characteristics perform in plenty of contexts, together with outcomes of dominant species, keystone species, ecological engineers, and interactions amongst species (e.g., competition, facilitation, mutualism, disease, and predation). Relative abundance isn’t always constantly a great predictor of the environment-degree significance of a species, as even distinctly uncommon species (e.g., a keystone predator) can strongly impact pathways of energy and material flows.

Alteration of ecological communities

The changing of biota in ecosystems through species invasions and extinctions due to human activities has altered ecosystem goods and services in lots of well-documented cases. Many of those modifications are difficult, expensive, or not possible to reverse or repair with technological solutions. Some environment properties are first of all insensitive to species loss because of the following reasons:

  • (a) ecosystems might also additionally have a couple of species that perform comparable useful roles
  • (b) a few species might also additionally make contributions tremendously little to environmental properties
  • (c) properties can be commonly managed with the aid of using non-living environmental conditions 

More species had to ensure a solid supply of ecosystem goods and services as spatial and temporal variability increases, which generally takes place as longer periods and large regions are considered.

Specific combinations of species

Specific combinations of species are complementary to their patterns of resource use and may grow common rates of productivity and nutrient retention. At the same time, environmental situations can affect the significance of complementarity in structuring groups. Identification of which and what number of species act in a complementary manner in a complicated group is simply a beginning.

Exposure to invasion through distinct species is strongly encouraged through species composition and, below comparable environmental situations, usually decreases with growing species richness. However, numerous factors, including disturbance regime, and resource availability additionally strongly impact invasion fulfillment and frequently override outcomes of species richness in comparisons throughout distinctive ecosystems.

Having a variety of species that respond in a different way to distinct environmental alarms can stabilize ecosystem mechanism rates in reaction to disturbances and variation in non-living situations. Using practices that preserve a variety of organisms of various practical impact and practical response types will help maintain several control options.

Types of Biodiversity

What sets apart ecosystem diversity from the other types of biodiversity? Find out here. The other types of biodiversity include species diversity, resource diversity, habitat diversity, and differentiation diversity.

Species diversity

The wide variety of species that takes place in a specific region is known as its species richness. It is defined as the species richness in any habitat and is the common currency of the examination of biodiversity. Species richness index is a degree of the wide variety of species in a described sampling unit Species richness is a characteristic of sample size. However, it ought to now no longer be stressed with species abundance.

Each natural habitat has quite a few species, which range in their relative abundance. No community includes species of identical abundance; a few species are rare, others are common and nevertheless, others can be abundant. Species variety measures are frequently more comprehensive and informative than species counts alone. There’s the significance of taking an organism’s eye view of community variations”. This remark applies to structural diversity as it’s far from species composition.

Resource diversity

Resource diversity means the variety of resources that an organism (species) utilizes. For example, a few fish species withinside the hill-streams have an extensive trophic niche and depend upon zooplankton, bugs, and algae, and diatoms for their meals. In many instances, food sources fed on by an organism differ during specific levels of the life cycle, consisting of fry, fingerling, and adult degrees in the case of fish. Thus, niche width is the measure of the variety of resources used by a species.

Habitat diversity

It is the quantity of habitat classification in a defined geographical location. This is an index, which quantifies the structural complexity of the habitat. This structural complexity of the environment, in turn, is responsible for the presence of an extensive type of spatial and trophic niches. This means that if any habitat helps extra microhabitats, its biological diversity may be greater compared to a habitat that has a much less wide variety of microhabitats. More research on habitat diversity had been made for terrestrial environments.

Differentiation diversity

It is likewise known as beta diversity. It is defined as the degree of alterations in species composition among communities. A wide variety of research on the faunal diversity of fish and bugs has indicated that their distribution and abundance are ruled through gradient and altitude, among different factors.

Types of Ecosystem Diversity

Ecosystem diversity is defined as a form of diversity between ecosystems within a geographical location. An ecosystem is, in turn, defined as a system that includes all living organisms (biotic factors) and the physical environment (abiotic factors) functioning together as a unit. Ecosystems may be terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and artificial. To understand the topic around ecosystem further, read this.

The diversity of the ecosystems in a particular geographical location may be identified and studied so as to understand their overall impact on human existence and the environment. It can be dealt with at a micro-level (small scale) or at a macro-level (large scale).  Macro-scale ecosystem diversity would therefore be concerned with the variations in the ecosystems at a large scope, such as oceans, forests, and wetlands. Conversely, small-scale ecosystem diversity would be interested in the variations in the ecosystems over a relatively small geographical space or area.

typical rainforest
Figure 1: A typical rainforest where a variety of plant and animal species inhabit. Credit: Rick Hawkins, Freeimages.com

Examples of Ecosystem Diversity

Ecosystem diversity is valuable to the existence of humans and all living things on this planet. Human activities and other natural environmental phenomena have a great deal on the impacts being brought to the ecosystem biodiversity. Thus, it is a vital research subject of ecologists.

Some of the important things taken into account are the variation in niches, trophic levels, and ecological interactions. As noted earlier, a macro-level of ecological diversity would be exemplified by variations in the ecosystems in oceans and seas, which would not only be diverse in terms of ecosystems but also diverse in terms of species and genes.

In a diverse ecosystem, biotic and abiotic factors interact; thus, species living in a certain community should create a symbiotic relationship to keep the ecosystem healthy. Ecosystem diversity boosts the availability of oxygen through photosynthesis among plant organisms living in a certain habitat.

For instance, in an aquatic environment, once species are diverse it helps in water purification which is processed by plant varieties for it to be used by humans. This diversity may help in increasing the number of plant varieties that can be a great source for the human consumption of medicinal plants.

diverse marine ecosystem
Figure 2: A diverse marine ecosystem. Credit: (Enbrut Dani, Freeimages.com.

Try to answer the quiz below to check what you have learned so far about the ecosystem.


Choose the best answer. 

1. The wide variety of species that takes place in a specific region

2. The diversity of resources that a species utilizes

3. The degree of alterations in species composition among communities

4. Regarded as the largest scale of biodiversity

5. Which of the following does not apply to a micro-level ecosystem diversity?

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Further Reading


  • Berwald, Juli. Ecosystem Diversity. https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/energy-government-and-defense-magazines/ecosystem-diversity. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
  • Cunningham, Margaret. What is Biodiversity? Definition and Relation to Ecosystem Stability. https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-biodiversity-definition-and-relation-to-ecosystem-stability.html DSST Environment & Humanity: Study Guide & Test Prep. Retrieved 29 April 2015
  • Hooper, D. U., Chappin III, F. S., Ewel, J. J., Inchausti, P., Lavorel, S., Lawton, J. H., Lodge, D. M., Loreau, M., Naeem, S., Schmid, B., Setälä, H., Symstad, A. J., Vandermeer, J., & Wardle, A. (2015, February). EFFECTS OF BIODIVERSITY ON ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONING: A CONSENSUS OF CURRENT KNOWLEDGE. Centennial Special: Notable Papers in ESA History. https://doi.org/10.1890/04-0922
  • OECD (2014), Biodiversity and Ecosystems, OECD Publishing. https://www.oecd.org/env/resources/OECD-work-on-biodiversity-and-ecosystems.pdf. Retrieved June 23, 2021
  • Priyadarshi, Sonali. 4 Varieties of Ecological Diversity. https://www.biologydiscussion.com/biodiversity/4-varieties-of-ecological-diversity/4868. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  • Singh, Priyam. “Ecosystem Diversity Noted PDF”. https://semesters.in/ecosystem-diversity-notes-pdf/. Retrieved June 23, 2021.

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