Environment: Definition, Types, and Examples

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Environment Definition

The word environ in environment means “to surround” and ment means “about”. It is a french word. Environment is not only made up of physical characteristic, but also chemical and biological entities. Thus, the environment comprises of biotic and abiotic factors, which makes up the environment. Thus, leading to the survival, reproduction and evolution of the organism. Thus, the place where living organisms are found along with the other entities is called Environment.

Many times, the word ecosystem and environment are used in conjunction with the other. However, they do differ from each other, as environment is huge. Even nature is used along with environment, however implies both living, non-living entities and man-made entities as well come into it. There are different field in which environment is studied such as ecology which is concerned with the science behind the environment and their interactions.

Types of Environment

i. Internal and External Environment

Environment can be divided into external and internal. The external environment would mean whatever happening outside the organism, whereas internal would be, functions or events going on within an organism is called as internal environment. Internal environment of an organism helps to maintain the balance so that the cell can survive.

ii. Natural and Built Environment

Natural environment is something which is already constructed, whereas built environments are those that are constructed by humans. Example of natural environment would comprise both living and non-living things such as organism, sea, rock, various climate and resources to sustain. Example of built environment would be buildings which were previously made of natural sources available are now made up of concrete, thus altering the environment. Other examples would be artificial lakes, ponds, modern conversion in old agricultural procedures. Not all the changes made by man are detrimental to the environment.

iii. Aquatic, Terrestrial and Atmospheric Environment

The environment can be classified into land, water and air. Water will further be of two types; fresh water and salt water. 97% of life originates from water. Thus, marine environment is the most abundant environment, which is beneficial to humas due to various resources they contain which are of medicinal value, in cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals, consumption purpose and others.

However, they are the ones who get vastly affected due to dumping of garbage into ocean, agriculture runoff and various human activities. On land, there exist 6 types of ecosystem which are tundra, grassland, desert, forest, rainforest and taiga. Terrestrial environment is not that huge as they lack water and thus, the temperature keeps on changing to maintain the balance and water availability. The most important factor for the survival of all is air.

Changing climate, light, humidity are the parameters to which humans have adapted. Thus, as animals have to adapt to survive, similarly humans to adapt as well for survival. The source of air the green algae which carries out photosynthesis, thus producing oxygen which is required by living organism for their survival.

External Components of Environment

It comprises of both living and non- living things and are:

i. Air, Land, and Water

The outer layer of the earth is called as Lithosphere, which is the hard surface, and arises due to magma solidification. The most abundant and vitally important is Water. It is found in sea, oceans, ponds, lakes, rivers occupying 71% of earth’s surface.

They have both fresh as well as salty water. Salt water is found in oceans and sea, whereas freshwater is found in river which keeps on flowing and moves towards the other river and then to ocean or sea. However, few rivers end up drying because their water flows to the ground. Thus, there is a cycle in which water flows and is glacier water moves to the rivers, further which is distributed to the springs, ground water and small streams.

Streams are quite necessary as they connect to the other points and continue the cycle. Ponds are small water bodies which aren’t deep and can be manmade as well as natural.

Example of manmade can be fish and solar pond. Lakes are water bodies deeper than ponds but not connected to any other water body, but are present in places where mountains or glaciers are present. Humans have constructed dams for the storage of water, although these dams are source of electricity, they however interfere with the environment and change the direction of animals found in the water and the water flow to the forest also gets inhibited, thus, it affects the food chain and destroys the forest.

The most important constituent for survival is atmospheric air, consisting of various gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide and other inert gases along with water vapor and crystals of ice. To protect the earth from UV rays, there is ozone in the atmosphere, so that radiation does not damage the organism on earth. Thus, atmosphere possess its own components to maintain homeostasis.

Global warming can be defined as the temperature increase due to gases such as chlorofluorocarbon, methane, carbon dioxide and etc. Human activities such as cutting of trees leading to excess of carbon dioxide, thus increasing the temperature and causing global warming. Weather comprises of all the climatic conditions taking place at a particular place.

However, weather and climate are two different words. Climate says more about the atmosphere around, whereas the weather gives us the value of temperature. Humans play a pivotal role in the fluctuation of temperature and weather condition as well due to man-made activities.

ii. Biosphere

Biosphere comprises of all the living things such as protist, eubacteria, archaea, plants, animals, fungi and other living entities. There are around 3.7 billion organism on planet Earth. The habitat where these organism reside is called as Biosphere. Each organism differs from each other in their appearance, metabolism, structure, reproduction and its adaptations. Thus, biomes are a group of organism which can survive in varying geographical conditions.

Biomes are of two types. Land biomes are forest, tundra, grassland and desert. Freshwater and marine water are the two types of water biomes. They play a role in determining how environment changes and how to adapt as well as evolve to the geographical location.

Ecological Role of Environment

i. Energy Flow

In an ecosystem, flow of energy takes place in the environment forming a cycle between the biotic and abiotic factors. All the organisms reside in unison and the energy flows and the cycle is continued. Producers obtain energy from sun and prepare food which is consumed by the primary consumers and then those are consumed by secondary consumers and then by the tertiary consumers and finally gets decomposed and lost in the form of heat.

ii. Biogeochemical Cycles

b) Movement of chemicals from biotic to abiotic, involves the role of biogeochemical cycles. These cycles are required for the elements such as nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, phosphorous and water. All these elements helps in maintaining the cycle to proceed so that in case of carbon and oxygen cycle, equilibrium of both the gases are maintained in the environment.


Due to manmade exploitation, a lot of challenges the environment has been facing, which directly or indirectly affects the biotic and abiotic entities. Thus, to reduce its impact on environment, a movement has been initiated called Environmentalism. It deals with pollution, animal and forest extinction, climate change and etc. The main objective is to preserve those species and organisms which are at the verge of extinction. To protect the species, to use natural resources wisely, stop deforestation and global warming.

Environment Citations


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