Ecosystems Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

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  • 0:04 What Are Ecosystems?
  • 1:00 Levels of Organization
  • 1:42 Food Chains
  • 2:21 Ecosystem Threats
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debra Patuto

Debra has taught at elementary levels and has an M.ed with certification in elementary education and special education

This lesson focuses on ecosystems. We'll explore the importance of ecosystems and take a close look at the essential things that all living things need for survival.

What Are Ecosystems?

Can you think of some important things that you need in order to survive? There are five things that all living things need, and they include sunlight, water, air, food, and a habitat with the right temperature. Sorry, video games are not on the list.

An ecosystem is a specific area that can be either in water (aquatic) or on land (terrestrial). Ecosystems can be small; like under a rock or inside a tree trunk; medium, like a pond, lake, or forest; or large, like the ocean or our entire planet.

The living organisms within an ecosystem, such as plants, animals, trees, and insects, interact with non-living things, such as weather, soil, sun, and climate, and depend on each other for survival. For example, in a swamp ecosystem, living organisms such as plants, insects, and trees interact with non-living things such as water, sun, and soil.

Levels of Organization

There are different levels of organization within an ecosystem:

  • Individual : a single living organism, such as a plant or animal.
  • Population: a group of individuals from the same species living in the same area and interacting with each other. There's a fish population when many fish live in the same area.
  • Community: many different populations of species living in the same area and interacting with each other. There is a community when populations of fish, eels, and sharks are all living in the same area and interacting.
  • Ecosystem: communities that live and interact with each other as well as with non-living things. It is here in the ecosystem that the communities depend on things like water, sun, and temperature.

Food Chains

In an ecosystem, all living things need food in order to get energy. Green plants are called the producers in a food chain. With the help of the sun, they can produce their own food. They're the very first level of the food chain.

Primary consumers, such as insects, caterpillars, cows, and sheep, consume (eat) the plants. The secondary consumers, such as lions, snakes, and cats, eat the primary consumers. And so on, with each higher level eating the animals below them on the food chain.

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