The Difference Between a Natural & Man Made Ecosystem
The difference between natural and manmade ecosystems comes down to whether nature created the environment or if man did. A zoo is a manmade environment, while a river is a natural environment.
Ecosystems refer to specific biological environments and all of the organisms in them, including their interactions with the living and nonliving components of the environment. Some of the living components of an ecosystem include its animals and plants. Nonliving components include its soil, water, climate and precipitation. Ecosystems may be natural or artificial or man-made.
Naturally Occurring Environments
Natural ecosystems are the result of spontaneous natural reactions and interactions between organizations and their environments. For example, an ocean is a marine ecosystem that has primary producers in the form of algae, as well as consumers and decomposers. The algae convert energy from the sun into usable forms through the process of photosynthesis, and then other marine creatures, the "consumers," consume the algae to derive their energy. When the consumers die, organisms known as decomposers break them down into organic matter. This natural ecosystem occurs without man's help.
An artificial ecosystem, on the other hand, does not occur by itself. An example of an artificial or man-made ecosystem is a zoo, which consists of plants and animals outside of their natural habitats.
A natural ecosystem is self-sustaining and self-perpetuating. This means that it does not need any outside help to sustain itself. Many natural ecosystems are affected by humans, such as the variety of woodland life in an area being developed for housing.
An artificial ecosystem, on the other hand, cannot sustain itself without the help of humans. For example, a farm is an artificial ecosystem that cannot sustain itself. If a farm is neglected for a period of time, it will revert back to nature and its ecosystem will be destroyed. The same thing goes for a zoo; if the zookeepers do not care for the animals and plants, all of them will die and the artificial ecosystem will be destroyed.
Lack of Diversity
Natural ecosystems are more diverse than artificial ecosystems. This is because natural ecosystems generally contain more biotic and abiotic factors than artificial ecosystems. Biotic and abiotic refers to living and non-living matter within the ecosystem, respectively. For instance, fish, bacteria and kelp are biotic factors, while water, trash and sand are not. These factors and their relationships to one another are far more complex than in artificial ecosystems, which tend to lack natural diversity.
Purpose for Creation
Natural ecosystems exist as a result of natural circumstances, while man-made ecosystems are usually created with an ulterior motive in mind. For example, a zoo is created for purposes such as entertainment, recreation, education, conservation and profit. A community garden is created as a business venture or to provide food. A park is a man-made or artificial ecosystem that is created as a relaxation spot for conservation purposes or aesthetics.
- University of Michigan: The Concept of the Ecosystem
- Fuse School: The Difference Between Natural and Artificial Ecosystems
- Nagoya University of Arts: The Man-Made Ecosystem
- The Bigger: What are Manmade Ecosystems?
- Tutor Vista: Introduction to Man Made Ecosystem
- American Museum of Natural History: Ecology Disrupted