Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Elizabeth R. Purdy
ECOSYSTEMS ARE DEFINED as communities that involve dynamic interactions among living elements (such as animals, plants, and microorganisms), and the inanimate elements of their environments. All parts of an ecosystem need to work together to maintain the proper balance of the system, and it is necessary for all ecosystems to function in conjunction to maintain balance. The term ecosystem was first used in 1930 by Roy Clapham (1904–90), an appointee to the Demonstratorship in Botany at England's Oxford University. At the time, Clapham was studying plant ecology under the guidance of Botany Department Chair Arthur Tansley (1871–1955), a pioneer in the field of ecology. Two decades after Clapham and Tansley first articulated the concept of ecosystems, ecologists began including the study of ecosystems as a distinct field of study within the discipline of ecology. Scientists have since identified eight major ecosystems: the temperate forest, tropical rain forests, deserts, grasslands, the ...