The forest ecosystem covers the flora, fauna and ground conditions within the parameters of a forest. From the climatic conditions to the members and relationships in the food chain, it’s highly dependent on the major resources available. In a forest the proportion of flora, including the varieties of trees, grasses, fungi and flowers will effect the way in which fauna exist.
The fauna in a forest ecosystem will include the minute and the massive. For the animals of the forest it can offer shelter and living conditions to insects, birds, arachnids and mammals, from the tiny bush mouse to the largest primate or predator.
Most healthy forests contain five layers which the animals proceed to travel between, including the canopy, the understory, the shrub layer, the herbaceous layer and the forest floor.
In a forest setting the smallest creatures and plants are still important to the structure of the environment. From the smallest gnat to the largest predator, the relationship between the food chain is vital to the balance of the ecosystem.
In the way that grass feeds cattle so too do smaller creatures become food for larger predators. Even the plants of a forest will become fodder for larger herbivores or small creatures.
The ecosystem of a forest is balanced by the resources that are available. The number of trees, fungi, grass or flowers will be maintained by the number of animals or insects using them for their lifestyle or food sources. If the number of predators in an ecosystem should alter, then the food chain would be unbalanced right down to the fundamental level.
Even a slight alteration in the environmental conditions, due to floods or drought or human intervention, can lead to the destruction of the forest ecosystem itself.
The elementary woodland environment is reliant on the balance being maintained, between growth and decay. While rotting timber and mulch can offer sustenance to some creatures, the death of a plant is still part of the ecosystem of a forest. The mulch provides the ideal place for germination of other seeds. All this is part of the balance of the natural woodland unit.
This major ecologic unit includes the life cycle of the larger animals too. Their living, reproducing, hunting and dying all effect the way the forest achieves its balance. Any variation to the numbers of creatures within the forest ecosystem could change the fragile balance drastically. To few predators could mean an over production of smaller herbivores. This would lead to a loss of plant life within the natural environment. Once the balance is lost, it can be impossible to regain.
The delicate balance of the ecosystem is vital to the health and vitality of the forest itself. From climate conditions, water quality and quantity, to human intervention, or exploitation, the forest ecosystem is prone to influences that can alter it forever.