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[ek-oh-sis-tuh m, ee-koh-] /ˈɛk oʊˌsɪs təm, ˈi koʊ-/
noun, Ecology
a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment.
any system or network of interconnecting and interacting parts, as in a business: The success of Apple’s ecosystem depends on hardware/software integration.
Manufacturers, retailers, and customers are all part of the automotive industry’s ecosystem.
Origin of ecosystem
1930-35; eco- + system
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ecosystem
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Familiarity with the biological components of an ecosystem is essential to meaningful radiobiological assessment.

    Atoms, Nature, and Man Neal O. Hines
  • In these marginal areas, human activity may stress the ecosystem beyond its tolerance limit, resulting in degradation of the land.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • Often little or no data are available to indicate the previous state of the ecosystem or the rate of degradation.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
British Dictionary definitions for ecosystem


/ˈiːkəʊˌsɪstəm; ˈɛkəʊ-/
(ecology) a system involving the interactions between a community of living organisms in a particular area and its nonliving environment
Word Origin
C20: from eco(logy) + system
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ecosystem

1935; see eco- + system. Perhaps coined by English ecologist Sir Arthur George Tansley (1871-1955).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ecosystem in Medicine

ecosystem ec·o·sys·tem (ěk'ō-sĭs'təm, ē'kō-)
An ecological community together with its environment, functioning as a unit.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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ecosystem in Science
A community of organisms together with their physical environment, viewed as a system of interacting and interdependent relationships and including such processes as the flow of energy through trophic levels and the cycling of chemical elements and compounds through living and nonliving components of the system.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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ecosystem in Culture
ecosystem [(ee-koh-sis-tuhm, ek-oh-sis-tuhm)]

A collection of living things and the environment in which they live. For example, a prairie ecosystem includes coyotes, the rabbits on which they feed, and the grasses that feed the rabbits.

Note: Chemical substances move through ecosystems on the Earth in cycles (see carbon cycle).
Note: The source of energy for almost every ecosystem on Earth is the sun.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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