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Natural Ecosystem vs. Artificial Ecosystem: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 9, 2024
A natural ecosystem is self-sustaining and formed by nature, while an artificial ecosystem is human-made and often requires maintenance.

Key Differences

Natural ecosystems are systems formed by nature, comprising living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components that interact in a self-sustaining manner. In contrast, artificial ecosystems are man-made systems, such as urban parks or agricultural lands, where human intervention is often necessary to maintain equilibrium.
In a natural ecosystem, energy flows and nutrient cycles operate with minimal or no human intervention, maintaining a balance over time. However, in an artificial ecosystem, these processes are frequently regulated by human activities, such as fertilization in agriculture or landscaping in urban areas.
Natural ecosystems often display a high level of biodiversity and complex food webs, resulting from evolutionary processes. On the other hand, artificial ecosystems may have reduced biodiversity and simpler food webs, shaped by human selection and management.
The resilience and adaptability of a natural ecosystem to environmental changes are typically higher due to its complexity and diversity. In contrast, artificial ecosystems often require human intervention to adapt to environmental changes or to restore balance when disturbed.
Examples of natural ecosystems include forests, oceans, and deserts, where ecological processes have been shaped over millennia. Examples of artificial ecosystems include agricultural fields, aquariums, and botanical gardens, where human design and maintenance play a significant role.

Comparison Chart


Formed by natural processes
Created by human activity


Self-sustaining, minimal human intervention
Often requires human intervention


High biodiversity, complex food webs
Often limited biodiversity, simpler food webs


High resilience to environmental changes
May need human help to adapt or recover


Forests, oceans, deserts
Agricultural lands, aquariums, urban parks

Natural Ecosystem and Artificial Ecosystem Definitions

Natural Ecosystem

A habitat where species interact without human interference.
The Serengeti plains are a classic example of a natural ecosystem.

Artificial Ecosystem

A planned ecological space needing human maintenance.
Fish tanks are small-scale artificial ecosystems.

Natural Ecosystem

An ecological community formed by nature's processes.
Coral reefs are diverse natural ecosystems in the ocean.

Artificial Ecosystem

An ecosystem heavily influenced or constructed by humans.
Agricultural fields are types of artificial ecosystems.

Natural Ecosystem

An area where ecological cycles occur naturally.
Decomposition in a forest is a crucial process in a natural ecosystem.

Artificial Ecosystem

A human-made environment where species coexist.
Urban parks are artificial ecosystems within city landscapes.

Natural Ecosystem

A balanced environmental system formed over time by nature.
Wetlands serve as important natural ecosystems for many species.

Artificial Ecosystem

A habitat where natural elements are manipulated for specific purposes.
The botanical garden is an artificial ecosystem for studying plant species.

Natural Ecosystem

A self-regulating community of living organisms in their environment.
The Amazon rainforest is a vast natural ecosystem.

Artificial Ecosystem

An environment where biodiversity is often limited by design.
Golf courses are artificial ecosystems with limited wildlife.


Do natural ecosystems require human management?

Generally, they function without significant human intervention.

What is a natural ecosystem?

A self-sustaining ecological system formed by natural processes.

What is a key characteristic of a natural ecosystem?

High biodiversity and complex interactions among organisms.

Can natural ecosystems recover from disturbances?

They often have strong resilience and adaptability.

Do artificial ecosystems mimic natural ecosystems?

They can, but often with less complexity and biodiversity.

How does biodiversity compare in natural and artificial ecosystems?

Natural ecosystems usually have higher biodiversity.

Are all forests considered natural ecosystems?

Most, but some may be artificially managed or planted.

Can artificial ecosystems be sustainable?

Yes, with careful design and management.

Do artificial ecosystems contribute to conservation?

They can, especially when designed for habitat restoration.

Can artificial ecosystems support wildlife?

Yes, but typically fewer species compared to natural ecosystems.

Are urban parks natural or artificial ecosystems?

They are artificial ecosystems within urban environments.

How do energy flows differ in natural and artificial ecosystems?

Natural ecosystems have self-regulating energy flows, while artificial ones often rely on external inputs.

What is an artificial ecosystem?

An ecosystem created or significantly influenced by humans.

Why are artificial ecosystems created?

For purposes like agriculture, recreation, or urban planning.

Can artificial ecosystems become self-sustaining?

It's challenging, but some can evolve to become more self-regulating.

Are agricultural lands natural ecosystems?

No, they are considered artificial ecosystems.

Are botanical gardens natural or artificial ecosystems?

They are artificial ecosystems designed for specific purposes.

Is a zoo an example of an artificial ecosystem?

Yes, it's a human-designed environment for animals.

Do natural ecosystems provide ecosystem services?

Yes, like air and water purification, and climate regulation.

How do natural and artificial ecosystems affect human life?

Both are vital for biodiversity, recreation, and providing ecosystem services.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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