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Species Composition: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:01 A Good Day For a Walk
  • 0:36 All of the Living Things
  • 1:19 Why Is Species…
  • 1:54 Species Composition…
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrienne Brundage
Species composition is the identity of all the different organisms that make up a community. This is important when we're trying to discover how an ecosystem works, and how important different organisms are to an environment. Lear all about it in this lesson!

A Good Day for a Walk

You decide to go out for a walk at your neighborhood park. You've got to take advantage of this wonderful weather, right? As you're walking, you notice the wild flowers are in bloom, and they are just covered in bees and butterflies. Birds are singing in the trees, which come in all shapes and sizes. You spy a rabbit running across the trail, and think you identify some wild cat footprints in the mud. Sounds like a wonderful afternoon! But it was much more than that - you spent your afternoon engaging in one of the most fundamental aspects of ecological study: the observation of species composition.

All of the Living Things

Species composition refers to all of the living things within a specific environment. For example, if you have a backyard, you might have frogs, mice, various types of insects, butterflies, raccoons, and a couple of stray cats living there. But that's not all - you probably have several different types of trees, grass, flowers, etc. All of these things make up the species composition of your backyard.

Now, your backyard itself is an ecosystem. An ecosystem is the interaction of all of these living organisms with each other along with their environment - which includes all of the non-living things, like the rocks, the weather, and whether or not there's a pond or a stream.

Why Is Species Composition Important?

Let's look at an example of why species composition is important. Take your backyard: if you wanted to have a vegetable garden this summer, you'd need to know what bugs are in your yard that might eat your tomatoes. You'd also want to know if you had nightly visitors of deer or gophers to eat your lettuce, and if those cute rabbits you sometimes see will decimate your carrots. And what about the weeds? Should you expect to be pulling dandelions and crabgrass all summer? Will there be enough bees to pollinate your strawberries? Wow, that simple backyard garden just became a complex study in species composition.

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