The 6 Types Of Ecosystems: The Different Habitats That We Find On Earth

Nature finds different ways to create life systems full of flora and fauna.

Nature is characterized by always finding a way to adapt to circumstances. However, it does not do it in a homogeneous way, nor through a single element. On the surface of our planet, for example, the main units that show variations in the landscape and the life forms that inhabit it  are called ecosystems.

Ecosystems are much more than simple “styles” with which the earth’s surface is ornamented. In fact, they not only lead to the appearance of one or another type of animal, plant or microorganism species, but there are also theorists who point out that they have radically influenced the development of different human cultures and civilizations: the way in which they developed habits and ways of thinking, and also the way in which they gained or lost power.

Types of ecosystems

Next we will see the main types of ecosystems, with their climatic, biological and orographic variations.

1. Marine ecosystem

It is the largest type of ecosystem, since it  covers most of the earth’s surface : approximately 70%. Despite the fact that large areas of different oceans have little concentration of vertebrates, the mineral-rich water it contains teems with life almost everywhere.

The seagrasses of algae, the coral reefs and the fumaroles of the great sea depths stand out.

2. Freshwater ecosystems

Lakes and rivers are also based on water, but they are very different ecosystems than those of the seas and oceans.

In turn, there are different subtypes of freshwater ecosystems:  lentic systems, lotics and wetlands. The former are made up of lakes and ponds, and in them the water moves very slowly. The latter, on the other hand, are made up of rivers, in which the water slides quickly due to gravity and the relief of the landscape. In wetlands, the elements of the ecosystem are saturated with water.

In this class of ecosystem, types of vertebrates of medium or small size predominate, since there is not much space in which to develop. Some of the largest animals that we can find are fish of the size of catfish or sturgeon, certain sharks that go up rivers (such as the bull shark), rays and a species of seal that lives in the lakes of Finland.

3. Desert ecosystem

Deserts are characterized by the very low frequency with which there is rainfall. Neither the fauna nor the flora is very varied, since few large forms of life can survive under such harsh conditions, and therefore alterations in a species produce very severe chain effects.

Cacti and certain fine-leaved shrubs are typical desert plants, while reptiles, some birds, and small and medium-sized mammals can also adapt well to the climate.

4. Mountain ecosystem

The very pronounced reliefs form mountains and plateaus whose verticality forms another kind of ecosystem due to the climatic and atmospheric conditions characteristic of these areas.  In these areas, animal life is usually very noticeable in low and middle areas, although not in the steep peaks.

Animals such as chamois, ibex and certain types of wolves, as well as raptors such as vultures and eagles, are often common in this habitat. On the other hand, in snowy areas, biodiversity is reduced, and life forms must try to camouflage themselves.

5. Forest ecosystem

This type of ecosystem is characterized by the density of trees or flora in general. It can be divided into jungle, dry forest, temperate forest, and taiga. In cases where there are many trees together, the diversity of animal species is usually very high.

However, it must be taken into account that  height plays an important role in the presence of flora. In many places. Above 2,500 meters above sea level, no trees grow.

Forests are wooded expanses in which the presence of a few tree species prevails.

6. Artificial ecosystem

The artificial ecosystem is one in which  the action of human beings has created spaces radically different from those that existed until a few millennia ago.

The presence of buildings, skyscrapers and large areas covered by lights, concrete and pavement make some species adapt to these environments and others not. Some clear examples of these pioneering animals are  pigeons and Argentine parrots  from many large cities in the world, as well as cats. These animals benefit from the abundance of food and the relative absence of predators that results from the presence of humans in close proximity.

Bibliographic references:

Original text


  • Grumbine, RE (1994). What is ecosystem management? Conservation Biology 8 (1): 27-38. 
  • Maass, JM and A. Martínez-Yrízar. (1990). Ecosystems: definition, origin and importance of the concept. Sciences (Num. Esp.). 4: 10-20.  
  • Pickett, STA, and ML Cadenasso. (2002). The ecosystem as a multidimensional concept: meaning, model, and metaphor. Ecosystems 5: 1–10.

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