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Difference between Biosphere and Biome

Important Terms in Ecology


  • An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system.
  • These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows.
  • Ecosystems can be of any size but usually encompass specific, limited spaces (although some scientists say that the entire planet is an ecosystem).


  • Ecotone is a zone of junction between two or more diverse ecosystems.
  • It can be local or regional, narrow or wide. Here, the conditions are intermediate between the two adjacent systems and hence it is also a zone of tension.
  • For instance, the coastal areas represent an ecotone between marine and terrestrial ecosystem.


  • Ecocline is a variation of the physicochemical environment dependent of one or two physico­chemical factors of life (say, temperature), and it leads to presence or absence of certain species.
  • It can be understood as ‘physical transition zone’.                      Important Terms in Ecology
  • For example, an ecocline can be a thermocline, chemocline (chemical gradient), halocline (salinity gradient) or pycnocline (variations in the density of water induced by temperature or salinity).

Niche or Ecological Niche

  • A niche refers to the unique functional role or place of a species in an ecosystem.
  • A species’ niche includes the physical, biological and chemical environment to which it is adapted as well as its role as producer and consumer of food resources.

Niche Construction

  • Niche construction is the process by which an organism alters its own (or another species’) environment.
  • These alterations can be a physical change to the organism’s environment or even encompass when an organism leaves one habitat to another.


  • A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism.
  • The term typically refers to the zone in which the organism lives and where it can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction.

Home Range

  • A home range is the area in which an animal lives and moves on a periodic basis
  • . An associated concept is the utilisation distribution which examines where the animal is likely to be at any given time.
  • Earlier, data for mapping a home range was used to be gathered by careful observation, but nowadays, the animal is fitted with a transmission collar or similar GPS device.
  • Home range includes the territory of an animal. Territory is an area in which an animal, or group of animals, is protected from incursions by others of its species.
  • Territorial boundaries may be marked by sounds such as bird song or scents such as pheromones secreted by the skin glands of many mammals.


  • The biosphere (from Greek word bios = life and sphaira = sphere), is the layer of the planet Earth where life exists.
  • This layer ranges up to the height of 10 km above the sea level, used by some birds in flight, to ocean depths of more than 8 km such as the Puerto Rico trench.
  • However, in general, the layer of the Earth containing life is thin.                          Important Terms in Ecology
  • The upper atmosphere has little oxygen and very low temperature; similarly, ocean depths greater than 1 km are dark, cold and lack oxygen.


Biome refers to enormous regions sharing similar climatic conditions, soil type, flora and fauna. Five biomes in India are:

  1. Tropical humid forests: These are found in the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas.
  2. Tropical deciduous forests: Majority of forests in India are of tropical deciduous type.
  3. Deserts and semi-desert vegetation: This is found in the Western Rajasthan.
  4. Coniferous forests: These are found in the Middle Himalayas.
  5. Alpine meadows: These are found at Higher Himalayas.                              Important Terms in Ecology



Environment & Biodiversity

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