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. Indeed, boundaries and components are in constant flux.
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. The term was further refined by Arthur Tansley, a British ecologist who first used the term in a publication.
Definitions of an ecosystem
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: http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152248/
- "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: http://www.ecosystems.ws/ecosystem_concept.htm, 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem
- "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)