Species, population, and ecosystem
Based on complexity and functionality, there are different levels of ecological organization. Species, population, and ecosystem are just some of the levels of ecological organization. Of the three levels, species represent the smallest level of ecological organization while ecosystem represents the largest.
Species refers to a group of organisms that can interbreed to produce a fertile young. In scientific naming of organisms, which is a binomial naming system, the species is identified by the last part of the name. Species share the same genus, family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom. Taking the example of a lion and a leopard, the scientific names are Panthera leo and Panthera pardus respectively indicating that though the two animals belong to the same genus they are actually different species. Though a lion and a leopard can breed young ones they would not be able to produce fertile young ones. This explains why interbreeding to produce fertile young is the most definitive characteristic of the species.
The second term is population. Population refers to a group of species living together and interact with one another in a specific geographical area or in multiple geographical areas. For instance, a pride of lions in national park may be considered as a population similar to two prides of lions living in two different parks but which interact with one another through migration. Different populations that interact within a certain geographical area make up a community. The study of populations helps in understanding the developments in species, developments in communities, and the developments in an ecosystem with respect to how changes in a population may affect the ecosystem in general.
An ecosystem refers to the biotic and abiotic factors in a specific geographical area. The biotic factors encompass all the populations interacting with and living in a specified geographical area. On the other hand, the abiotic factors includes all the non-living objects in the said geographical area. For example, a national park is an ecosystem. The study of ecosystems reveals the complexity of interactions and interdependencies among the biotic factors and between the biotic factors and abiotic factors in the ecosystem. For instance, it may reveal the complex food chains and how the abiotic factors help in the formation of different food habits in the ecosystem. Overall, the study of ecosystems helps in demonstrating the success factors for the sustainability of life within the ecosystem as well as the possible interventions that would make an ecosystem sustainable.