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The word ‘ecosystem’ was coined in the 1930s to clarify meaning in studies of organisms and their environment that focused on explaining why species are where they are (but without spatial interaction), including how they change through time in succession. Since then, the word has been appropriated and diffused in broader discourses, but those of ecology and geography will be discussed here. Ecologists, influenced by general systems theory, moved ecosystem into systems ecology, which specifically quantified fluxes of energy and matter and studied them using computer simulations. This usage was dominant in ecology but divided practitioners of systems ecology from those who used traditional approaches or the newer more mathematical approach grounded in population and evolutionary ecology.

Geographers, similarly motivated, developed systems ideas separately and ...

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