The main difference between biosphere and ecosystem is that a biosphere includes all the living organisms on the Earth and their physical and chemical environments, whereas an ecosystem includes only the living and non-living components in a specific area.
Ecology is the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and their physical surroundings. Biosphere and ecosystem are two related concepts in ecology, but they have different scopes.
Key Areas Covered
What is a Biosphere
A biosphere is a narrow zone on the surface of the Earth where soil, water, and air combine to sustain life. Life is only present in this zone. Biosphere is also a global ecosystem that consists of living organisms (biota) and abiotic (non-living) factors from which they get energy and nutrients. It consists of a system in which the cycling of matter is continuous with solar energy flowing. There are interactions between living organisms and their environment. Moreover, the biosphere is important in promoting life on Earth, helping in recycling nutrients, and providing food or raw material.
Biotic components include plants, animals, as well as microorganisms. Plants in the biosphere are primary producers. Hence, they are known as autotrophs. They produce their food through photosynthesis. Animals cannot produce their food. Hence, they are known as consumers or heterotrophic. They depend on other factors for food. In addition, microorganisms serve as decomposers by depending on the dead matter for food. There are several different interactions between biotic and abiotic components in the biosphere.
Components of Biosphere: Lithosphere, Atmosphere, and Hydrosphere
Biosphere consists of three main components as lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere, which are the abiotic components of the biosphere. However, living things can only be found in some of these three components. The areas in these three components where living things thrive and inhabit are part of the biosphere.
Lithosphere is the terrestrial component of the biosphere. The part of the lithosphere that does not contain and sustain any life, i.e., the lower mantle and the core, are not considered parts of the biosphere. The atmosphere, on the other hand, is the gaseous covering above the Earth and contains different gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, necessary for living organisms’ existence. Only the lower regions have sufficient oxygen for the existence of life, therefore making them a part of the biosphere. Hydrosphere contains water necessary for living things and helps regulate the Earth’s temperature.
Furthermore, there are different levels of organizational structures in the biosphere. The five main levels are biomes, ecosystems, communities of species, populations, and organisms.
What is an Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a combination of living things and non-living things in a given area that interact with each other. These two parts are interrelated and inseparable. The living and non-living components are linked together via the nutrient cycles and energy flows. Moreover, the term ‘eco’ refers to a part of the world, and the term ‘system’ refers to coordinating units. In fact, each organism plays its role in an ecosystem.
Ecosystems are also a part of the biosphere. Examples of such ecosystems are forests, deserts, and even ponds. Furthermore, ecosystems can be classified into three main scales known as micro, mezzo, and biome.
Difference Between Biosphere and Ecosystem
A biosphere is a narrow zone on the surface of the Earth where soil, water, and air combine to sustain life, while an ecosystem is a combination of living things and non-living things in a specific area that interact with each other.
Biosphere is a global scale, including all living organisms on the Earth, whereas the ecosystem is a localized concept that talks about a specific area or a region.
A biosphere includes all the living organisms on Earth and their physical and chemical environments, while an ecosystem includes only the living and non-living components of a specific area or region.
Biosphere and ecosystem are two similar concepts in ecology but they have different scopes. The ecosystem is a part of the biosphere. The main difference between biosphere and ecosystem is that a biosphere includes all the living organisms on the Earth and their physical and chemical environments, whereas an ecosystem includes only the living and non-living components in a specific area.
1. “Biosphere system” By Prosopee – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Diagram of Trophic Layers & Energy Transfer in an Ecosystem” By WDiment – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia