A late nineteenth-century American term encompassing essentially the same ideas as the ecosystem con-cept. Now it is applied especially to small-scale, simplified, experimental ecosystems, laboratory- or field-based, which may be either derived directly from nature (e.g. when samples of pond water are maintained subsequently by the input of artificial light and gas exchange) or built up from axenic (organism-free) cultures until the required conditions of organisms and environment are achieved. Such small-scale experimental ecosystems may also be called micro-ecosystems or ecotrons.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.