What is the benefit of examining biology at the scale of the ecosystem rather than the community level? Why are ecosystem studies useful?
It is essential to examine biology at an ecosystem level because all communities are connected through flows of energy and nutrients. Changes in one aspect of one community can come to impact an entirely different community in time.
Ecosystem studies are essential in understanding how energy harvested from the sun can be transformed into the energy our brains use to allow us to think. Sunlight is necessary for producers to synthesize organic compounds in photosynthesis. Biomass, or any organic material available for consumption of other organisms, is the result of this process. Herbivores consume this biomass, and then are consumed by additional organisms of higher trophic levels. Energy flows to and from the organisms in each of these interactions, and effectively reveals how life exists at all. Remember that life is defined by an organism’s ability to acquire and use energy!