What Is an Ecosystem

Coined by A. G. Tansley in 1935, the term 'ecosystem' refers to an integrated system composed of a biotic community, its abiotic environment, and their dynamic interactions. A diversity of ecosystems exist through the world, from tropical mangroves to temperate alpine lakes, each with a unique set of components and dynamics (Figure 1). Ecosystems can be classified according to their components and physical context yet their classification is highly dependent on the spatial scale of scrutiny. Typically, boundaries between ecosystems are diffuse. An 'ecotone' is a transition zone between two distinct ecosystems (i.e., the tundra-boreal forest ecotone).

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