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Author(s): Deanne Erdmann MS

Ecological Terminology

  • Environment - Surroundings of an organism including the plants, animals and microbes with which it interacts.
  • Ecology - Study of how living organisms interact with the physical and biological environments. A German biologist, Ernst Haeckel, coined the term ecology in 1866. 
  • Abiotic - Non-living chemical and physical factors of the environment (e.g. temperature, light, water, soil, nutrients).
  • Biotic - Living organisms that are part of the environment.
  • Population - A group of individuals of the same species living in the same geographic area.
  • Community - All interacting populations living in the same geographic area.
  • Ecosystem - All interacting communities of organisms and abiotic factors of the environment within a defined area.
  • Biosphere - The global ecosystem, including all the earth's regions that can support life (land, air, water).