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Definitions:

• Biomass: Mass of organic (living) matter
• Biome: An area which has the same climatic conditions. For example, rainforests in Thailand
• Biosphere: Is the area where living things are found on Earth
• Gaia: Mother Earth

What are the advantages of a systems approach compared to the conventional science approach?

• Systems are defined by the source and ultimate destination of their matter and/or energy. There are three types • Open – exchanges matter and energy with its surroundings (e.g an ecosystem) • Closed – exchanges energy but not matter (e.g Biosphere II experiment) • Isolated - An isolated system exchanges neither matter nor energy. No such systems exist

Open System

§ A system in which both matter and energy are exchanged across bounderies of the system
§ Most natural living systems are open systems
§ Almost all ecosystems are open systems

Closed System

§ A system in which energy is exchanged across the bounderies of the system, but matter is not
§ What happens to the energy and matter on Earth?
§ What are the inputs, outputs, and transfers?
§ Energy on Earth is provided by heat and light energy from the sun's rays when they hit the Earth. The living organisms on Earth thrive from this energy to live. For example, plants need sunlight to live, and then herbivores feed on the plants, which are then fed on by carnivores.

Isolated System

§ An isolated system is one that exchanges neither matter nor energy with its environment. 
§ This cannot exist naturally (with the possible exception being the whole universe as a system).
§ A cave ecosystem may receive no light from the outside world, the organisms in it feeding and living off each other, recycling the small amount of energy, may be thought of as an isolated system, but is not truly so. Bats may bring organic matter in from outside, percolating water may bring detritus, nutrients or...
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