Our Environment

  • Everything that surrounds us is the environment. It includes both living (biotic) and non- living (abiotic) components.
  • Interaction between these biotic and abiotic components form an ecosystem.
  • In an ecosystem living components depend on each other for their food which give rise to food chains and food webs in nature.
  • Human activities lead to environmental problems such as depletion of ozone layer and production of huge amounts of garbage.


All the interacting organisms in an area together with the non-living constituents of the environment form an ecosystem. E.g., forest, pond etc.


(i) Natural ecosystem:

The ecosystem which exists in nature on its own. Example: forest, lake, ocean.

(ii) Artificial ecosystem:

Man-made ecosystems are called artificial ecosystems. Example: crop field, aquarium, garden.


(i) Abiotic Components:

All the non- living components such as air, water, land, light, temperature etc. form the abiotic components.

(ii) Biotic Components:

All the living components such as plants, animals, bacteria, fungi etc. form the biotic components.
On the basis of nutrition biotic components are further divided into:
  • Producers: All green plants and blue-green algae can produce their own food using abiotic components (photosynthesis), hence called producers.
  • Consumers: Include all animals which depend on producers directly or indirectly for their food.
  • Decomposers: Include organisms which decompose the dead plants and animals. Example: bacteria, fungi. These help in the replenishment of natural resources.
Division of Consumers:

(i) Herbivores: Plant eaters. Example: goat, deer. 
(ii) Carnivores: Flash eaters. Example: tiger, crocodile. 
(iii) Omnivores: Eats both plants and animals. Example: human. 
(iv) Parasites: Live on the body of the host and take food from it. Example: lice, cascuta. 


  • Food chain is a series of organisms in which one organism eats another organism as food. For example: Grass → Deer → Lion
  • In a food chain various steps where transfer of energy takes place is called a trophic level.


  • Flow of energy in a food chain is unidirectional.
  • Green plants capture 1% of sunlight and convert it into food energy.
  • 10 percent law : Only 10% of energy is transferred to the next trophic level. The remaining 90% energy is used in life processes (digestion, growth, reproduction etc.) by present trophic level.
  • Due to this gradual decrease in energy, food chains contain 3-4 trophic levels.


  • Decrease in energy
  • 1 kJ ↣ 10 kJ ↣ 100 kJ ↣ 1000 kJ


  • The concentration of harmful chemicals increases with every next trophic level in a food chain. This is called biological magnification.
  • Maximum concentration of such chemicals accumulates in human bodies as humans occupy the top level in any food chain.


In nature large numbers of food chains are interconnected forming a food web.


Changes in the environment affect us and our activities change the environment around us. Human activities lead to pollution, deforestation etc.


  • Ozone layer is a protective blanket around the earth which absorbs most of the harmful UV (ultraviolet) radiations of the sunlight, thus protecting living beings from many health hazards such as skin cancer, cataract, destruction of plants etc.
  • Ozone (O3) layer is present at higher levels of the atmosphere (i.e. stratosphere). It is a deadly poison at ground level.

Formation of ozone molecule

  • The high energy UV radiations break down the O2 molecules into free oxygen (O) atoms. O (UV) O + O (atoms)
  • These oxygen atoms then combine with oxygen (O2) molecules to form the ozone molecule. O2 + O → O3 (ozone)

Depletion of ozone layer

  • The decrease in the thickness of the ozone layer over Antarctica was first observed in 1985 and was termed an ozone hole.
  • This decrease was linked to excessive use of synthetic chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which are used in refrigerators, ACs, fire- extinguishers, aerosols, sprays etc.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) succeeded in forging an agreement to stop CFC production at 1986 levels (KYOTO PROTOCOL) by all countries.


Improvements in lifestyle have resulted in accumulation of large amounts of waste materials.

Types of materials in Garbage

  • Biodegradable: Substances which can be decomposed by the action of micro- organisms are called biodegradable wastes. Example: fruit and vegetable peels, cotton, jute, dung, paper, etc.
  • Non-biodegradable wastes: Substances which cannot be decomposed by the action of micro-organisms are called non-biodegradable wastes. Example: plastic, polythenes, metals, synthetic fibres, radioactive wastes, pesticides etc. Micro-organisms release enzymes which decompose the materials but these enzymes are specific in their action that’s why enzymes cannot decompose all the materials.

Methods of waste disposal

(i) Biogas plant: Biodegradable waste can be used in biogas plants to produce biogas and manure. 
(ii) Sewage treatment plant: The drain water can be cleaned in sewage treatment plants before adding it to rivers. 
(iii) Land fillings: The wastes are buried in low lying areas and are compacted by rolling with bulldozers. 
(iv) Composting: Organic wastes are filled in a compost pit and covered with a layer of soil, after about three months garbage changes to manure. 
(v) Recycling: Non-biodegradable wastes are recycled to make new items. 
(vi) Reuse: It is a conventional technique to use an item again. Example: newspaper for making envelopes. 

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