The term ecosystem was coined in 1930 by Roy Clapham to denote the combined physical and biological
components of an environment. British ecologist Arthur Tansley later refined the term, describing it as "The whole
system,… including not only the organism-complex, but also the whole complex of physical factors forming what we
call the environment". Tansley regarded ecosystems not simply as natural units, but as "mental isolates".
Tansley later defined the spatial extent of ecosystems using the term "ecotope".
Central to the ecosystem concept is the idea that living organisms interact with every other element in their local
environment. Eugene Odum, a founder of ecology, stated: "Any unit that includes all of the organisms (ie: the
"community") in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined
trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (ie: exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts)
within the system is an ecosystem." The human ecosystem concept is then grounded in the deconstruction of the
human/nature dichotomy and the premise that all species are ecologically integrated with each other, as well as with
the abiotic constituents of their biotope.
Examples of ecosystems
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Large marine ecosystem
Subsurface Lithoautotrophic Microbial Ecosystem
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