4 Characteristics of the biosphere

The planet Earth works thanks to the interaction between its multiple components, and beyond, it is because of this dynamic that life exists. There are different classifications that help us understand and categorize what happens within our planet, and one of them is the term of a biosphere. If you want to learn what the biosphere is, its characteristics and layers, we invite you to read this article where we will give you practical examples and how the term helps us to better conservation of biodiversity.

What is the biosphere and its function

The biosphere is the layer that contains all living beings, along with the functions they perform. The term comes from the Greek bios (life) and sphaira (sphere), which is understood as the sphere of life. Underneath it, all ecosystems that exist, from seafarers to terrestrial and air.

The biosphere has the function of grouping up all life, and being a man-made term, it helps us to better understand and categorize our planet.

Characteristics of the biosphere

To better understand this term, we present the characteristics of the biosphere:

  • It is irregular: since the biosphere is composed of several ecosystems, it is not uniform. Soil reliefs vary from place to place, as do deeps and water concentrations.
  • It is interdependent: it is not isolated, but all components are interrelated to complete their functions.
  • It is a closed system: all interactions occur within the biosphere and all matter is concentrated within it.
  • Self-regulating: being a closed system, the biosphere has the ability to maintain a balance.

The layers of the biosphere

The biosphere is composed of different elements, which are known as layers, although it is opportune to clarify that they are not always overlapping. These layers are:

  • The atmosphere: this is the soda layer that surrounds the planet on the Earth’s surface, in what we commonly know as sky. It measures 1000 kilometers thick and consists of three layers: the troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere, the latter being the most external.
  • The hydrosphere: it consists of all the water that exists on the planet and in all the states there is. This means it includes the lakes, rivers and seas, but also glaciers and groundwater.
  • The lithosphere: is the soil of the biosphere, including all the solid surfaces of the planet.

The biosphere components

The biosphere is made up of everything alive and its processes. These components are:

  • Organisms: range from the simplest bacteria, to the most complex cords, like us humans, not forgetting the multiple types of plants that exist and that form the different landscapes.
  • Relationships between species: just as there are living things, there are relationships between them that maintain the balance of the biosphere. Examples of these relationships are predatory-preacy dynamics, or mutualism, where two species help each other for mutual benefit.
  • Biogeochemical cycles: they are those that integrate the elements between the environment and living beings. Examples of these are the water or nitrogen cycle.
  • Interaction of living beings with their environment: finally, we have the relationships that organisms generate with their environment, such as the deposition of waste, which will be reintegrated into the environment through biogeochemical cycles.

Examples of biosphere

Now that we already know it’s the biosphere, we present some examples:

  • Planet Earth: this is the clearest example, because it was the result of it that the term was created. We only know this biosphere of natural origin. Another naturally created biosphere would involve life on another planet, something we are still unsure about. But the truth is that there are some artificial biospheres.
  • BIOS-3: This is an artificial biosphere created in the former Soviet Union, built underground as a closed system. He could accommodate three people, had vegetable and algae crops that helped filter CO2 while producing food, along with other systems for the capsule’s self-sufficiency.

Importance of the biosphere

The biosphere allows a closed system to be functional and self-sufficient, where all parts work together to maintain a balance. Recognizing it as a concept has helped develop strategies for its conservation.

The Biosphere Reserves

To protect everything that encompasses the term, the Biosphere Reserves were created, which are recognized by UNESCO under the Men and Biosphere Programme. They are representative spaces of an area where conservation work is carried out and the promotion of activities where resources are used in a sustainable manner.

This designation seeks to improve man’s relationship with his environment, based on scientific and interdisciplinary principles, with the expected result of reducing man’s negative impact on biodiversity.

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