Ecosystems work through the exchange of energy and matter between the various biologic and nonbio-logic components of the system. Introduction of new components, or the loss of any component, typically disrupts the system, and some changes can be so severe that they cause a cascading effect and the collapse of the entire ecosystem. In other cases the ecosystem can recover from the introduction of a new toxin, predatory species, or other disruptive agent. The ability of the ecosystem to recover depends on the toxicity of the new element and the resiliency of the original ecosystem.
See also biosphere; carbon cycle; Gaia hypothesis; geochemical cycles.
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