-Ecosystems are defined as a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. In other words, all of the living and nonliving things living in an area. Living, or biotic, factors include plants, animals, and bacteria, while nonliving, or abiotic, factors include air, water, and other natural compounds found in the environment such as nitrogen and carbon.
-Many components impact what types ecosystems occur in an area. Some of these components include temperature, precipitation, and variations in soils. These things will dictate the conditions of an area and which species can survive there. Then based on the species that inhabit the area, we can classify the ecosystem.
When assigning a "value" to a species or ecosystem, there are two different classifications:
- Instrumental- value that something has to other species, including humans
- Intrinsic- value that something possesses as its own right, as an end-if-itself; in other words, value just because it exists.
Many instrumental values can provide value to humans. Some of them include:
- Provisions- Provisions are goods that humans use directly. These obviously have instrumental value because they are needed by humans, we therefore have set a value on their existence
- Regulating Services- Regulating services refer to natural ecosystems that help to regulate environmental conditions. These have instrumental value because they maintain the conditions in which we live, and are therefore serving a bigger purpose than just existing.
- Support Systems-Support systems refer to natural ecosystems that provide numerous support services that would be extremely costly for humans to generate. This has clear instrumental value because they alleviate costs that would otherwise be needed by humans, therefore their existence has value to us.
- Resilience- Resilience is defined as the rate at which an ecosystem returns to its original state after a disturbance. This has instrumental value and is valuable to humans because many disturbances are imposed by humans. So, because ecosystems are resilient and are able to bounce back rather than dying as a result of a disturbance, is valuable to us.
- Cultural Services- Cultural services refer to ecosystems that provide cultural or aesthetic benefits to many people. This is instrumental value because a certain ecosystem becomes more important than just its components, and now has moral value to people.
Intrinsic value of an ecosystem is influenced by many different factors. For example, it can be determined by species that are found in that ecosystem. The intrinsic value of an object deals more with abstract ideas and concepts, such as what a species or ecosystem represents, what it embodies, its rarity, its beauty, or its history.