Biotic components of the grassland ecosystem refer to the various biological ingredients of the grassland ecosystem. They are the living parts of an ecosystem comprising plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms.
An ecosystem is a functional unit of nature, where living organisms interact among themselves and also with their surrounding physical environment. It is an open system. The ecosystem is considered an interactive system, where biotic and abiotic components interact with each other via energy exchange and the flow of nutrients. This system can be either natural or artificial. There are various types of natural ecosystems and the grassland ecosystem is one of them (1) & (2).
The grassland ecosystem is one of the largest terrestrial ecosystems in the world. About 25% of the earth’s surface is covered by grassland ecosystems. These ecosystems have developed mainly in temperate regions. Grassland ecosystems have developed in the central part of the continent. Here the average amount of annual rainfall is about 70 to 100 cm.
The ecosystem did not develop suddenly. There are some important components behind its development. In the language of ecology, all these elements are known as biotic and abiotic components. These two components play a significant role in the development of ecosystems in a region.
Biotic components of a grassland ecosystem are the most important component a dro their role is as important as the role of abiotic components in the development of grassland ecosystems.
They are the living parts of a grassland ecosystem. These biotic components may be considered as a functional segment or active component of nature because they are based on types of nutrients and sources of energy (4).
Features of Grassland ecosystem
- A grassland ecosystem is an area where mainly grass-type plants are found.
- It is fairly a self-sustainable unit, which explains even the complex interactions that exist in a terrestrial ecosystem.
- Grassland biotic components are full of energy and get energy from the sun.
- A grassland in an ecosystem in which there is too much water to form a desert, but not enough water to form a forest.
- There are a variety of different types of animals present in this ecosystem.
- This ecosystem covers 30 to 50% of the earth’s surface.
- No woody plants can be seen here.
- The grass in this ecosystem grows fast due to heavy rainfall.
- Grassland ecosystems are generally warm. Here temperature ranges from 20°c to 40°c
- This ecosystem is mainly dominated by various types of grass. And there are no big trees seen here. For this reason, this ecosystem is known as a transitional zone.
- Grasses of this ecosystem look rough and lifeless in the winter season and during the rainy season, the grasses look bright green (3) & (5).
Location of Grassland ecosystem
There is some amount of grassland somewhere in the whole world. In all the places in the world where grasslands are formed, ecosystems are formed based on these grasslands. That is, the abiotic and biotic components combine to form a larger system. This is the grassland ecosystem. The places in the world where such ecosystems exist are
- South Africa
- North America
- Hungary (5).
Grassland biotic components
The largest grass-dominated ecosystem in the world is the grassland ecosystem. Biotic components in an ecosystem mention to all the living organisms from animals and humans, to plants, bacteria, and fungi. These biotic components produce food in their bodies by absorbing the abiotic components present in an ecosystem. The food is stored as energy.
Then this food is transmitted slowly from one level to another. In this way, the energy supply in an ecosystem is maintained. So the role of the biotic components in the ecosystem is essential (3). The biotic components of grassland ecosystems also play a similar role. Grassland’s biotic components are-
Producers are the main base of an ecosystem. They are the only biotic components that can produce their own food. Green plants are the producers of an ecosystem. The grass is the main producer of the grassland ecosystem. These producers have a pigment called chlorophyll in their bodies. So their color is green.
In the process of photosynthesis, they make food with the help of chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight. Other organisms present in the grassland ecosystem take this food made by producers and produce energy in their own bodies. All other animals in the grassland ecosystem are directly or indirectly dependent on them (4).
1. They bind solar energy to their bodies.
2. These biotic components protect the environment from being polluted by supplying oxygen to the air.
3. The number of producers of grassland ecosystems is much higher than the number of consumers.
4. They can produce oxygen in the process of photosynthesis (3) & (4).
Some plants name
The grass is the main plant in this ecosystem. There are various types of grass in the grassland ecosystem. These are tor grass, blue moor-grass, false oat-grass, rough meadow grass, cocksfoot, aristida, cynodon, setaria, buffalo grass, big bluestem, elephant grass, rhodes grass, ryegrass, purple needle grass, etc. (4).
In addition to this type of grasses, some small trees, shrubs, mosses, lichens, and cyanobacteria are many producers found in a grassland ecosystem. The longest grass in this ecosystem is 1.5 to 3.4 meters high. And the height of the smallest grass is 0.14 to o.5 meters. Producers play an essential role in the grassland ecosystem. They create oxygen to protect the entire species and microorganisms in the grassland ecosystem (5).
Consumers are the components in the grassland ecosystem that depend on the producer to make their own food. They are also important components of a grassland ecosystem. Consumers are heterotrophs. Differences in the productive capacity of the producers influence the behavior and functional aspects of the consumers. The consumers in a grassland ecosystem are of three types.
a. Primary consumers
Cow, buffaloes, goats, rabbits, mice, sheep, insects like grasshoppers, locusts, caterpillars, and termites, centipede, zebras, antelopes, giraffes are the primary consumers of the grassland ecosystem. They are directly dependent on grass (producers) for food. They take in oxygen from the environment during respiration and provide carbon dioxide to the environment.
1. They are herbivores.
2. These consumers only eat producers, so they are known as primary consumers.
3. Primary consumers did not produce their own food. They depend on plants.
4. Found in all ecosystems thus have a wide range of ecological niches.
5. Primary consumers have the highest amount of biomass.
Different types of grasses present in the grassland ecosystem such as tor grass, blue moor-grass, Purple needle grass, big bluestem, etc. are taken as food by various herbivorous present in that ecosystem such as cows, goats, rabbits, etc. in this way the energy generated by the grasses in the process of photosynthesis is transferred to the body of the primary consumer (1) & (3).
b. Secondary consumer
Snakes, foxes, jackals, lizards, golden eagles, coyotes, etc. are the secondary consumers of the grassland ecosystem. They feed the primary consumers. This type of consumer gains their body strength by eating primary eaters of a grassland ecosystem. The energy generated in the body of the primary consumer is thus transferred to the secondary consumers of a grassland ecosystem.
1. They are the carnivorous animals in this ecosystem.
2. Secondary consumers gain energy in their bodies after eating the primary consumers as food.
3. They have a medium amount of biomass.
4. These consumers take 1% of the energy of producers.
5. The secondary consumer eats complex food.
6. It tends to be larger and fewer in number.
There are various types of the carnivorous present in this ecosystem. These are Snakes, golden eagles, etc. Energy flows when the snake eats the mouse. In this way, the secondary consumer in the grassland ecosystem gets the energy from the primary consumer and survives in the environment (2) & (4).
c. Tertiary consumers
The organisms that eat the plants and other animals are tertiary consumers. Hawks, owls, etc. are the tertiary consumers of a grassland ecosystem.
1. The tertiary consumer eats both primary and secondary consumers. So they are either dully carnivorous or omnivorous.
2. Thus known as apex predators.
3. They are usually located at the top of the food chain in a grassland ecosystem.
4. These biotic components have low amounts of biomass.
5. They have taken only 0.1% of energy from producers.
A hawk is a tertiary consumer in this ecosystem. When a hawk eats a mouse or rabbit, then the energy present in the mouse or rabbit’s body is transferred to the body of the hawk. Thus the energy is shifted in the grassland ecosystem (5).
Decomposers are the biotic components that decompose dead plants and consumers into simple chemicals. Like every ecosystem, decomposers have a role in the grassland ecosystem. The ecosystem is incomplete without these biotic components.
There are various types of decomposers found in this ecosystem. These are Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Rhizopus, Penicillium, and Mucor. Dead plants and consumers are decomposed by the actinomycetes and some aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.
- The decomposers in a grassland ecosystem decompose the plant’s and consumer’s bodies. Then they release the minerals back into the soil. This increases the soil fertility of the grassland ecosystem.
- They break down the complex chemical compounds in the protoplasm of producers and consumers using some of them for their own needs. And releases the rest into the environment as inorganic salts. Producers or green plants use those salts for food production. In this way, a cyclical process continues. So this ecosystem is incomplete without decomposers (4).
Role of biotic Component in the grassland ecosystem
1. The biotic components in the grassland ecosystem help to determine the various types of organisms able to exist within an environment.
2. Without the biotic components, the food chain, food web, trophic levels would not have formed in the grassland ecosystem.
3. All these biotic components influence each other which effects the health of the ecosystem.
4. The energy generated in this ecosystem flows from one species to another by all these living components.
5. Biotic components are able to change the grassland environment.
6. They oppose population reduction. If a particular species reproduce too fast, it will cause an increase in population size, thus affecting the grassland environment.
7. Primarily, the biotic components maintain the flow of the nutrients in the grassland ecosystem.
8. The biotic components of a grassland ecosystem are directly dependent on abiotic components of the ecosystem for survival (3) & (4).
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