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If you take a close look at a particular natural area and want to know how everything in it lives together, we talk about an ecosystem. The Wadden Sea is an example of one. What an ecosystem is, what lives in it and what unmistakable elements such as a food web and balance are; you can find out on this page.

Last updated on 03-07-2023
  • zeekraal is ook onderdeel van het ecosysteem van de Waddenzee

    What is a ecosystem?

    An ecosystem is a natural system with all the organisms living in it. This can be as big as a forest. Or you zoom in on something small like the pond in your garden. Everything inside is interrelated in some way. 

    What lives inside an ecosystem?

    An ecosystem consists of all living and non-living parts in that area. In biology, we call these the biotic and abiotic factors. The biotic factors are all the living things in that area and what influence they have on each other. This includes all organisms such as animals, plants, fungi and bacteria found in that particular ecosystem.

    So, besides everything that is alive, an ecosystem also consists of non-living parts. They affect all those living things. These are the abiotic factors. Here you can think of:

    • water
    • sunlight
    • air
    • soil
    • temperature

    The Wadden Sea

    You can think of the Wadden Sea as an ecosystem! The Wadden Sea refers to the sea between the coast of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark and its Wadden Islands. Among other things, sea life , the seabed, seawater and sea air are related to each other.

    Eat or be eaten

    Everything that lives needs energy to stay alive. To get energy, you need to eat. That can be plants, animals or a combination of them. In the Wadden Sea, there are hundreds of species eating or being eaten by each other. You are either the prey or the prey animal. To visualise this, you can make a food web maken.


    Everything within such a food web is directly or indirectly related to each other. If one of the species disappears then it affects the whole ecosystem. Take plankton, for example. Plankton is not food for a seal. But if the plankton goes bad, eventually the seal will also go bad. Here's the thing: the seal eats fish, the fish eat shrimps and the shrimps eat plankton. So the presence of plankton has an impact on the entire food chain. If plankton goes bad, the entire food chain can collapse. It is important to keep an ecosystem in balance.

    De Waddenzee heeft een complex maar ook kwetsbaar ecosysteem. Er zijn verschillende bedreigingen waar de Waddenzee mee te maken heeft. Veel van die bedreigingen komen door de mens.