The climatic regions of the Earth gave origin to a large variety of natural environments. Each habitat is formed by a community of animals and plants, called ecosystem, that, in order to survive, must adapt to the surrounding environment exploiting its resources as best they can. 550 million years ago plants began to grow on the Earth, creating the first environment that was suited for animal life; initially mosses and ferns were dominant, then conifers developed, and then flowering plants. At the same time, also herbivorous animals evolved and the foundations for the complex ecosystems of today were laid.

subjects dealt with in What is an ecosystem

ecosistemi_400x225_0042_biomi terrestri

Terrestrial biomes

An ecosystem is a complex system composed of organisms living in a given habitat. Plants and animals are the biotic…

ecosistemi_400x225_0039_ecosistemi e uomo

Man and ecosystems

Terrestrial and water ecosystems are complex and perfectly organised natural “factories” that produce all that is required for life on…

ecosistemi_400x225_0040_ecosistemi delicati

Delicate ecosystems

Man has always thought he would be able to alter the environment in which he lives to fulfil his own…

L'agroecosistema

The agroecosystem

A typical example of artificial ecosystem is a cultivated field or agro-ecosystem. This is a natural system altered by men…

special reports

  • 10 February 2014 / Ecosystems

    Coral turns pale!

    The delicate balance of the coral reef “When looking at a coral reef, we are fascinated by the enormous variety…

    29 April 2013 / Ecosystems

    Intruders in the Mediterranean

    Mare Nostrum The Mediterranean Sea (Mare Nostrum, Latin for “Our Sea”) has always been considered of fundamental importance for the…

    1 August 2012 / Ecosystems

    Holidays, yes! but they must be sustainable!

    Sustainable holidays Lately we have been speaking of sustainable behaviours to apply to our daily life, but what happens when…

  • 8 July 2011 / Ecosystems

    Who's coming to dinner

    A shark in my hamburger Summer is finally here! As usual, we have waited for it all year long and…

    8 April 2011 / Ecosystems

    Protected areas

    Taking a look at the past Protecting nature, at least as a general concept, has rather old origins; in fact…

    15 March 2008 / Ecosystems

    Biodiversity

    Defining biodiversity Much is said about biodiversity and of the need to protect it. But what is biodiversity? And why…

  • 1 November 2007 / Ecosystems

    The environment and health

    Two faces of the same coin The topic of the relationship between the environment and health is very transversal, i.e.…

    13 October 2007 / Ecosystems

    Environmental risk in Nepal

    Institutional management The government institution in charge of management of natural resources in Nepal, is the Ministry of Population and…

    1 June 2007 / Ecosystems

    Nepal’s natural resources

    The country Morphological characteristics Nepal is a relatively small country with a total area of little less than 150,000 square…

  • 10 February 2014 / Ecosystems

    Coral turns pale!

    The delicate balance of the coral reef “When looking at a coral reef, we are fascinated by the enormous variety…

    29 April 2013 / Ecosystems

    Intruders in the Mediterranean

    Mare Nostrum The Mediterranean Sea (Mare Nostrum, Latin for “Our Sea”) has always been considered of fundamental importance for the…

  • 1 August 2012 / Ecosystems

    Holidays, yes! but they must be sustainable!

    Sustainable holidays Lately we have been speaking of sustainable behaviours to apply to our daily life, but what happens when…

    8 July 2011 / Ecosystems

    Who's coming to dinner

    A shark in my hamburger Summer is finally here! As usual, we have waited for it all year long and…

  • 8 April 2011 / Ecosystems

    Protected areas

    Taking a look at the past Protecting nature, at least as a general concept, has rather old origins; in fact…

    15 March 2008 / Ecosystems

    Biodiversity

    Defining biodiversity Much is said about biodiversity and of the need to protect it. But what is biodiversity? And why…

  • 10 February 2014 / Ecosystems

    Coral turns pale!

    The delicate balance of the coral reef “When looking at a coral reef, we are fascinated by the enormous variety…

  • 29 April 2013 / Ecosystems

    Intruders in the Mediterranean

    Mare Nostrum The Mediterranean Sea (Mare Nostrum, Latin for “Our Sea”) has always been considered of fundamental importance for the…

  • 1 August 2012 / Ecosystems

    Holidays, yes! but they must be sustainable!

    Sustainable holidays Lately we have been speaking of sustainable behaviours to apply to our daily life, but what happens when…

from the Multimedia section

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    ecosystems

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    Cold and heat on the Earth

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    ecosystems

    Deforestation in the Amazon

    Look
  • Clima_album_5_thu

    life

    Extinction of the species

    Look
    2009327114614194_globosocosa_thu

    ecosystems

    Coral

    Look
  • thu_20105121246401112_bleachingsviluppo

    ecosystems

    Bleaching

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    ???????????????????

    water

    No more ice for the bears

    Look
  • space

    Cold and heat on the Earth

    Look
  • thu_Clima_album_36

    ecosystems

    Deforestation in the Amazon

    Look
  • Clima_album_5_thu

    life

    Extinction of the species

    Look

curiosities

  • Why the old ladies?

    Thomas Huxley (1825-1895), a famous English biologist, tried to explain the complexity of natural processes in an original way, and…

    The concentration of elements

    In nature the quantity of elements is extremely important: the substances that are necessary to living organisms are often more…

    A heavenly garden

    In Cornwall huge sphere greenhouses were built: huge bubbles made up of plastic hexagons with a metallic framework. Inside these…

  • Coconut palms

    Coral islands are the ideal habitat of coconut palms, probably the most commonly grown palm in the world. Coconuts are…

    A frozen mammoth

    During the Pleistocene (approximately 1.5 million years ago), the tundra covered all central Europe and was inhabited by spectacular animals,…

    Long ears as air conditioners

    As far as the physiological adaptations of desert animals are concerned, the alterations of the appendages (ears, paws, tail) are…

  • Farewell to turtles

    The hawksbill turtle certainly is a dying species: this reptile is not captured for its meat but for the so-called…

    How does an atoll form?

    Many people have studied the origins of these structures: the most famous is Charles Darwin (1809-1882), whose theory is still…

    An environmental quality indicator

    The tundra, which is extremely rich in lichens, proved very useful to study the world’s distribution of pollutants: the wind…

  • Why the old ladies?

    Thomas Huxley (1825-1895), a famous English biologist, tried to explain the complexity of natural processes in an original way, and…

    The concentration of elements

    In nature the quantity of elements is extremely important: the substances that are necessary to living organisms are often more…

  • A heavenly garden

    In Cornwall huge sphere greenhouses were built: huge bubbles made up of plastic hexagons with a metallic framework. Inside these…

    Coconut palms

    Coral islands are the ideal habitat of coconut palms, probably the most commonly grown palm in the world. Coconuts are…

  • A frozen mammoth

    During the Pleistocene (approximately 1.5 million years ago), the tundra covered all central Europe and was inhabited by spectacular animals,…

    Long ears as air conditioners

    As far as the physiological adaptations of desert animals are concerned, the alterations of the appendages (ears, paws, tail) are…

  • Why the old ladies?

    Thomas Huxley (1825-1895), a famous English biologist, tried to explain the complexity of natural processes in an original way, and…

  • The concentration of elements

    In nature the quantity of elements is extremely important: the substances that are necessary to living organisms are often more…

  • A heavenly garden

    In Cornwall huge sphere greenhouses were built: huge bubbles made up of plastic hexagons with a metallic framework. Inside these…

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