Coined by Eduard Suess in 1875, the biosphere is a component of Earth’s system that is made up of living organisms and the dead organic matter they produce. The Earth is made up of different spheres:
- Atmosphere: the layer of air that is above land
- Lithosphere: Solid surface layer (land).
- Hydrosphere: All water, including what is found on the surface, ground and air.
These spheres are home to a wide variety of organisms that rely on others within their sphere and on others to survive, including humans.
The biosphere has existed for 3.5 billion years. Its first organisms were prokaryotes, single-celled organisms that survived without oxygen, some of which used photosynthesis to produce sugars and oxygen out of water and carbon dioxide. The addition of oxygen and other gases allowed for other organisms to evolve into plants and animals while some bacteria evolved so they could break down dead animals and plants.
Government of Ontario. “Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve.” Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment. http://www.escarpment.org/biosphere/index.php. Accessed July 13, 2016.
National Geographic Society. “Biosphere.” National Geographic. http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/biosphere/. Accessed July 13, 2016.