ecosystem

noun
eco·​sys·​tem | \ ˈē-kō-ˌsi-stəm How to pronounce ecosystem (audio) , ˈe-kō-\
plural ecosystems

Definition of ecosystem

1 : the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an ecological unit That influx of fresh water alters the ocean's salinity near the seafloor, a factor that influences the makeup of the ecosystems in those places.— Sid Perkins Global warming, if it proceeds as many scientists predict, threatens to undo decades of conservation work and could mean the destruction of the monarch butterfly, the edelweiss, the polar bear and innumerable other species living in fragile ecosystems, an emerging body of scientific evidence suggests.— William K. Stevens
2 : something (such as a network of businesses) considered to resemble an ecological ecosystem especially because of its complex interdependent parts Newspaper layoffs have ripple effects for the entire local news ecosystem because, as the Congressional Research Service noted, television, radio and online outlets often "piggyback on reporting done by much larger newspaper staffs."— David Sirota Lots of Walmart customers are underserved by banks and other financial institutions, [Daniel] Eckert says; the company's experiments with finance-related products and services help customers "not only save money but also have access to a financial ecosystem they were crowded out from."— Rob Walker

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Other Words from ecosystem

ecosystemic \ ˌē-​kō-​si-​ˈste-​mik How to pronounce ecosystemic (audio) , ˌe-​kō-​ \ adjective
The Amazon invariably evokes superlatives and often hyperbole. Stock images such as river dimensions and biotic variety are now joined with notions of forest biomass and ecosystemic complexity. — Kent Mathewson The women of Sex and the City occasionally argued, sure, but their ecosystemic purpose—to be there for their friends as they date and search and marry—was always extremely clear. — Megan Garber

The Environment of Ecosystem

For the now-ubiquitous prefix eco-, we can thank the great German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, who in 1866 coined the term oekologie from the Greek oikos, meaning “home, place to live.” Haeckel was thinking primarily of the “homes” of animals, but by the time the word translated into English in 1875 (initially spelled “oecology”), its meaning had broadened to embrace plant habitats as well. The related term ecosystem was proposed by the British botanist Arthur Tansley, 60 years after one of his own professors first translated Haeckel’s oekologie. It may have been ecosystem, which treats eco- as a prefix to a standard English word, that gave English speakers permission to do the same in coining a host of other terms: ecosphere, ecotour, eco-friendly, and all the rest. Meanwhile, ecosystem itself has been appropriated freely in all kinds of contexts well removed from the natural environment: the “app ecosystem,” the “education ecosystem,” the “startup ecosystem,” the “pop-culture ecosystem,” the “mobile ecosystem,” the “biking ecosystem,” and so forth.

Examples of ecosystem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

On Galaxy phones, One UI brings a refined aesthetic and smart interface that shifts content and menus to make apps more intuitive, and moving it to tablets is a logical and important step toward building an iOS-like ecosystem. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "The ultra-thin Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e has an OLED screen, Android Pie and no S Pen for $400," 15 Feb. 2019 This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Ben Goldfarb, Smithsonian, "How Seaweed Connects Us All," 31 May 2018 Below are links to three groups that are involved with the environment, research, or both: • IPBio – Biodiversity Research Institute focuses on the biodiversity, ecology, and ethology of the fauna and flora in Brazilian ecosystems. Tibor Krausz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why this Thai businessman was named a ‘biodiversity hero’," 4 Apr. 2018 Climate change will be the fastest-growing cause of species loss in the Americas by midcentury, according to a new set of reports from the leading global organization on ecosystems and biodiversity. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Climate Change Is Becoming a Top Threat to Biodiversity," 28 Mar. 2018 In celebration of Earth month, kids will capture the balance found in the Earth's unique ecosystems. Sun-Sentinel.com, "events by county," 28 Mar. 2018 Sprawl causes all sorts of problems, not just wildfires—more invasive species and more domesticated critters like cats and dogs wreaking havoc on local ecosystems. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Please Stop Building Houses Exactly Where Wildfires Start," 13 Mar. 2018 Sharing achievements, friends lists, and gameplay was the first step toward establishing Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem within the Windows PC and Xbox console. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft ports Xbox Live to Android, iOS to extend the reach of Xbox," 14 Mar. 2019 How that’ll work for people who live outside the Google ecosystem remains to be seen. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Polestar 2 Is the First Car to Directly Challenge the Tesla Model 3," 27 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ecosystem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ecosystem

1935, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Learn More about ecosystem

Dictionary Entries near ecosystem

ecosphere

ecossaise

ecostate

ecosystem

ecotage

ecoterrorism

ecotone

Statistics for ecosystem

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ecosystem

The first known use of ecosystem was in 1935

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More Definitions for ecosystem

ecosystem

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ecosystem

: everything that exists in a particular environment

ecosystem

noun
eco·​sys·​tem | \ ˈē-kō-ˌsi-stəm How to pronounce ecosystem (audio) , ˈe-\

Kids Definition of ecosystem

: the whole group of living and nonliving things that make up an environment and affect each other

ecosystem

noun
eco·​sys·​tem | \ -ˌsis-təm How to pronounce ecosystem (audio) \

Medical Definition of ecosystem

: the complex of a community and its environment functioning as an ecological unit in nature

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More from Merriam-Webster on ecosystem

Spanish Central: Translation of ecosystem

Nglish: Translation of ecosystem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ecosystem for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ecosystem

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