Difference Between Ecology and Ecosystem - UPSC Notes

Difference Between Ecology and Ecosystem – UPSC Notes – Environment

Ecology and Ecosystem are fundamental concepts in describing how creatures interact with their surroundings. Ecology, the examination of living organisms’ relationships and interactions with other living organisms and the environment, plays a crucial role in understanding the intricate web of life.

The term ecosystem, a subset of ecology, encompasses both biotic and abiotic factors. The biotic factor includes animals, plants, and microorganisms, while the abiotic factor encompasses non-living physical components in the environment. This interplay forms the dynamic tapestry of life.

In essence, ecology is the comprehensive study of ecosystems. Ecosystems, in turn, are the units born from the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. This distinction is essential in preparing for the Environment syllabus of the UPSC Civil Service exam, as it provides a solid foundation for understanding the complexities of the natural world.


  • Ecology Overview: Embracing Ecosystems
    • Definition: Ecology encompasses the study of all ecosystems.
  • Biologists’ Exploration in Ecology
    • Focus: Investigating diverse relationships among living species in ecology.
  • Examples of Relationships in Ecology
    • Intra-relationships: Among live creatures.
    • Inter-relationships: Between living and non-living components.
  • Three Core Components in Ecology
    • 1. Live Creatures
    • 2. Organism-to-Organism Interactions
    • 3. Organism-to-Environment Relationships
  • Comprehensive Understanding by Ecology
    • Coverage: Physiological, genetic, behavioral, and dietary patterns of creatures.
  • Significance of Nutrition in Ecology
    • Classification: Symbionts, saprophytes, parasites, predators, and other categories in ecology.
  • Categorization in Ecology Based on Habitat
    • Approach: Classifying creatures and interactions according to environmental factors (e.g., temperature, soil type, water availability, humidity, and rainfall).


  • Ecosystems Defined
    • Relation to Ecology: Ecosystems constitute a vital subset of ecology.
  • Components of an Ecosystem
    • Biotic Components: Encompass all live organisms within a community.
    • Abiotic Components: Include non-living elements like sunshine, water, minerals, and climate.
  • Interconnectedness of Living and Non-living
    • Connection: Energy flow and dietary demands intricately link living and nonliving components.
  • Key Feature: Food Chains in Ecosystems
    • Significance: Illustrates energy flow and nutritional needs in a community.
    • Starting Point: Autotrophic primary producers, like green plants, initiate the food chain.
  • Consumer Dynamics in Food Chains
    • Movement: Consumers progress down the food chain to fulfill nutritional and energy needs.
    • Examples: Herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores.
  • Complexity: Formation of Food Webs
    • Integration: Interconnected food networks give rise to intricate food webs.

Difference Between Ecology and Ecosystem

The interaction between the environment and living beings is the focus of ecology.The study of various places and environments, such as streams, still water, desert, river, grassland, and woodland, is fundamental to the study of ecosystems.
Ecology is the study of the natural environment and its various ecosystems.In general, the ecosystem is a subset of the larger ecology.
When it comes to ecology, there is no broad categorization.The ecosystem, on the other hand, can be of several forms, such as a marine ecosystem, a forest ecosystem, or a pond ecosystem.
Ecology is the study of living entities or organisms, as well as their interactions and relationships with their surroundings.The ecosystem, on the other hand, is a subset of ecology that encompasses all of the complex interactions between living and nonliving organisms in a community or area.
Ecology encompasses a larger view of the environment.Every biotic and abiotic aspect in the environment makes up an ecosystem.


Living organisms engage in diverse interactions, driven by factors like food, habitat, and resources. These interactions, captivating natural occurrences, are elucidated by terminologies such as ecology, ecosystem, and community. These terms aid in defining the myriad relationships that persist in the environment, simplifying the comprehension of these intricate interactions. Both ecology and ecosystem play crucial roles in maintaining the health of the environment.

FAQs on Ecology and Ecosystem

Question 1: What are the 4 types of ecosystems?

Answer: The four main types of ecosystems are terrestrial ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, desert ecosystems, and forest ecosystems. Each type is characterized by distinct environmental factors, flora, and fauna.

Question 2: How many ecosystems are in the world?

Answer: It is challenging to provide an exact number of ecosystems in the world due to the dynamic nature of ecosystems and continuous changes. However, scientists recognize a wide range of ecosystems globally, encompassing diverse landscapes, climates, and habitats.

Question 3: What are the levels of ecology?

Answer: Ecology is studied at various levels, each offering a unique perspective on the interactions within ecosystems. The levels of ecology include individual ecology (studying individual organisms), population ecology (focusing on groups of the same species), community ecology (examining interactions among different species), and ecosystem ecology (analyzing both living and non-living components within an area).

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