Ecosystems

Something that amazes me in whatever I do, is how ecosystems form. So I thought that I would do a little bit of research as to what defines an ecosystem and learn a little bit more about them. The ever faithful Wikipedia defines it as:

An ecosystem is a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment.

There are 2 (which have interested me) instances of ecosystems (which aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive) operating here in Queenstown. The first are the bars, each has their niche, taking a certain subset of customers. When one closes, yet another subset of these punters move to one of a few places, either another pub/bar or a food outlet. Obviously, this timeframe becomes the niche for that establishment. One of these is bars, Bar-up pretty much caters to the workers at the other bars. There were 2 food outlets Fergburger and the Night/Day, this serviced the ecosystem perfectly – Fergburger is more expensive, tastier and better of quality, where as the Night/Day was cheaper, not as high a quality but much quicker and easier to grab on your way home.

Obviously, drunken revelers are hungry people and these 2 food outlets are an important part of the system. It was about 5 months ago that the equivalent of an oil-slick happened, the Night/Day burnt down. Now, 5 months later the ecosystem has just started recovering – people are used to heading to the bakery at 6am when it opens, when they sell yesterdays salad roll 2 for $3. It turns out though that the town is over correcting with 2 24 hour supermarkets slated to open in the next couple of months.

The other ecosystem that operates is the Ski/Mountain-biking industry. In the winter, this involves the mountains (lift operators), bus operators, rental operators, accommodation and even helicopter operators. Each of these provides a small part of the whole experience. Each business needs each other to exist and succeed. This happens for 5 months of the year, then almost overnight all the ski rental shops either change to mountain-bike shops, close or turn to more of a clothes shop for the summer. Some of these businesses actually have 2 whole shop-fronts (Browns Ski Shop/Vertigo Bikes) and seem to hardly lose a beat in the change over. Other businesses have winter and summer activities to, the helicopter operators have heli-biking and heli-skiing, the bus operators take more day tours and even the lift operators switch over for a few months taking mountain bikers to the summit of the mountain.

I suppose the interesting part of all of this is the affect that the “abiotic” factors have on the ecosystem, the weather obviously affects everything as does the burning down of the building. However, the ecosystem self corrects and continues to thrive.