A grassland ecosystem will have certain physical factors, the soil, water, and air, that determine what microbes, plants and animals will live there.
The microbes, plants, and animals together with the soil, water and air they live in create the ecosystem.
So an ecosystem determines its inhabitants and the inhabitants determine the ecosystem. It's similar to a community.
The community is defined by the living organisms (microbes, plants and animals) functioning together in the area they live in (soil, water and air).
Within the larger living community there can be numerous smaller ones. There may be a wetland ecosystem or woodlot ecosystem or the ecosystem could vary depending on the grassland type and climate. Arid or temperate areas have vastly different ecosystems than tropical grasslands.
If we zoomed in still further we would discover the habitat and various species within the ecosystem.
Very few ranchers concern themselves with thoughts of ecosystems. But why not?
Ecosystems function as a whole unit. Every part and parcel is critical to maintaining the balance. So when we place a few hundred head of sheep or cattle in a pasture of grass we need to pay attention to what the affect is and at least know if we're helping or hindering.
Our goal is healthy land, healthy livestock and making a dollar. When it comes right down to it, the resource that allows us to do so is the land and the grass. In the long run, without grass, no one wins.
Grasslands can be influenced and altered over time. Perhaps by giving this some rudimentary thought we can obtain a brighter view of the bigger picture, knowledge of our role in altering these living comunities, and how this affects livestock, land, and sustainability.
We can see evidence of human altered ecosystems all over planet earth. And sadly our success rate in the win-lose instead of win-win department is pretty high.
As ranchers utilizing the grass for our livelihoods, our goals, at the very least, need to take these living grasslands into consideration.