An Ecosystem is a community of biological organisms (animals, plants and other living creatures) that live in the same environment.
Within any ecosystem there is movement of materials and energy between the organisms. There is a balance between the organisms and the elements and the climate has a direct influence on this relationship. Great changes within an ecosystem can lead to the deaths of many biological organisms.
Soil is formed as organic matter decays, and digested by living organisms. The type of soil found in an ecosystem depends on a number of factors such as the organic matter available to form the soil, and the kind of climate. The climate also defines how quickly the soil is formed. In Cwm Idwal, the landscape has a signifanct impact on soil formation.
Landscape affects soils in several ways:
a) Drainage – which is poor on high plateaus and at the foot of slopes. Good on slopes.
b) Transportation of matter – from the uppermost and middle parts of slopes towards the bottom (impact of gravity and water – erosion and mass-movement).
c) Leaching – from the uppermost to the lowermost parts.
In addition to the landscape, the bedrock chemistry affects the soils of Cwm Idwal and the Nant Ffrancon area, and it is the relationship between the landscape, soils and climate that defines which plants have adapted to survive in this area.