Ecosystem refers to the community of living plants and animals as it interacts with its physical, chemical, meteorological and geological setting. When viewed together as a whole, an ecosystem is a complex and dynamically interacting mechanism that has specialist component parts. An ecosystem does not have a defined boundary or spatial unit and there does not need to be a specified or minimum number of species or individual organisms to form an ecosystem.[1] Indeed, boundaries and components are in constant flux.[2]

Roy Clapham first discussed the concept in 1930, in the sense of seeing both physical and biological components of the environment relating to each other as a unit.[1] The term was further refined by Arthur Tansley, a British ecologist who first used the term in a publication.[3]

The term "ecosystem" is a contraction of the terms "ecological system".[1] It is a core concept in both the discipline of biology and the discipline of ecology.[2]

Definitions of an ecosystem[edit | edit source]

There are varied definitions of an ecosystem. Here are some definitions of an ecosystem:

  • "An ecosystem is a community of organisms interacting with each other and with their environment such that energy is exchanged and system-level processes, such as the cycling of elements, emerge." From:
  • "An ecosystem is a natural system consisting of all plants, animals and microorganisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment." From:, citing Christopherson (1997).
  • "An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system." From Wikipedia, at:
  • "Ecosystem" means a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit. From: The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)

Sources and Citations[edit | edit source]

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