What are Microecosystems and Macroecosystems?

The Microecosystems and macro-systems Are the two types of ecosystems that can be distinguished if classified according to their size.

It can be said that an ecosystem is a set of biotic beings, that is, beings who have life, and abiotic, lifeless beings; In which the development of living beings depends on the physical and chemical conditions of inert beings and vice versa.

Ecosystem components

Thus, intricate relationships are established between each other, so that if any of these factors were altered, there would be changes in all the elements involved.

For example, the moving water of a river and the rocks in its bed are abiotic factors on which the salmon depend to feed, grow and lay eggs.

If the water of that river were stagnant or its volume diminished, it would cease to be a suitable habitat for salmon as well as for some mammals that feed on it.

In spite of this, living beings could adapt to new conditions. For this reason it is said that ecosystems are dynamic and depend on many variables.

However, they are very delicate because the abrupt change of a factor could completely eliminate all the complex mechanism of realations between the elements.

These relationships can be understood as a flow of nutrients and energy. Trophic or food chains exemplify their functioning very well.

For example, chemical elements of grass that through solar energy become nutrients, are consumed by several insects that in turn serve as food for some rodents, which will be devoured by game birds like the owl. Depending on their size, we can say that there are micro-systems and macro-systems.

Microecosystems and macro-systems


Microecosystems are ecosystems that operate in very small spaces that can be only a few centimeters. Usually the elements that compose them are usually very small, even microscopic and require very specific conditions for them to exist.

The particularity of micro-systems does not mean that they are isolated. On the contrary, they are often an important part of the functioning of larger ecosystems.

Many times the most extreme environmental conditions, because they are unique, allow the existence of microecosystems, because only a few living beings can support them. For example the sulfurous puddles near some volcanoes harbor bacteria that can only exist under these conditions.

While the extreme physical and chemical characteristics of a site may allow the existence of micro-systems, most of them are in less hostile environments.

A good example of this is the Saracenias purpureas , A cup-shaped carnivorous plant within which complete cycles of exchange of matter and energy are generated between the mosquito Wyeomyia smithii, the mosquito Metriocnemus knabi, a small rotifer (Bdelloidea rotifera) and thousands of bacteria and phytoplankton.

What are Microecosystems and Macroecosystems? Sarracenia purpurea

In any case, it is the heterogeneous environments with their variety of physical features that favor the appearance of microecosystems, or microhabitats.

For example, the Utricularia foliosa , A carnivorous plant that inhabits the Amazon jungle allows algae and bacteria to live in it, which are in turn the shelter of some microcrustaceans and microinvertebrates.

The assembly of trophic chains is still complex despite the tiny space in which they occur.

Many of these processes can be observed in their entirety within a laboratory. We could even say that the human body constitutes a micro-system for some organisms.

Thus, some studies suggest that carcinogenic tumors should be studied with an ecological approach (looking at them as micro-systems), in order to understand the processes between biotic and abiotic beings that include diseased cells. This would mean a huge leap forward in the twinning between medicine and ecology .

Understanding a system of material and energy exchange in such a small space also allows us to understand how, due to their heterogeneity, they harbor an enormous diversity of beings without which the larger ecosystems could not function; In other words, on them depends the existence of many other beings.


Unlike the small limited spaces in which micro-ecosystems are developed, macro-systems encompass huge amounts of plant population and the entire range of fauna associated with them.

These gigantic structures depend on climatic conditions that extend over time and extend into large geographic portions.

For example, forests, a type of macroecosystem, now occupy one-third of the earth's surface and contain about 70% of all the carbon contained in living things.

They are macroecosystems so extensive that they even occupy several climatic floors: the tropical, temperate and boreal forests.

Macroecosystems, also called biomes have undergone changes throughout the history of the earth, however they are not as fast as those that undergo smaller systems.

The conservation of biomes or macroecosystems is a long-term exercise because with the development of human activities some of them have undergone profound alterations.

Appropriate knowledge of the spatial distribution of macroecosystems is essential to understand how ecological and evolutionary processes occur.

This is why we must look at ecological processes on a large scale. One of the issues of relevance to those who study these changes is the impact of introducing new species into a given ecosystem or the influence of climate change.

Both micro-systems and macro-systems are ways of understanding an extensive network of relationships and exchanges between living things and elements of our planet.

An ecosystem regardless of its extension or permanence in time is the complex shelter of biodiversity.


  1. Aguirre, Z., & Merino, B. (2015). Flora characteristics in the macro-ecosystems of Ecuador south. Forests... Latitude Zero, 5-22.
  2. Biomes Group. (nineteen ninety six). The World's Biomes. Obtained from ucmp.berkeley.edu.
  3. Mendoza, E., Passarino, S., Quiroga, C., & Suárez, F. (2013). Writing in Science. Terrestrial Ecosystems. Buenos Aires: Ministry of Education of the Nation.
  4. Reed, C. (1978). Species Diversity in Aquatic Microecosystems. Ecology, 481-488.
  5. RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc. (October 2013). Aquatic Invasive Species Education for Otter Tail County. Obtained from rmbel.info.

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