noun, plural: ecosystems
A system that includes all living organisms (biotic factors) in an area as well as its physical environment (abiotic factors) functioning together as a unit.
An ecosystem is made up of plants, animals, microorganisms, soil, rocks, minerals, water sources and the local atmosphere interacting with one another.
Word origin: coined in 1930 by Roy Clapham, to denote the physical and biological components of an environment considered in relation to each other as a unit.
Related phrases: ecosystem model, ecosystem ecology, ecosystem diversity.
See also: biotic factor, abiotic factor, ecology.