On the Terminology of Biosphere and Ecosphere


THE term biosphere was defined by J. B. Lamarck as the rough total of the matter of all living beings. The tenor of the term has greatly altered since. By biosphere, modern biologists mean the part of the Earth's crust (lithosphere and hydrosphere) and of the lower parts of the Earth's atmosphere (troposphere) where life is present, together with the living organisms themselves. Accordingly, the biosphere consists of living and non-living components. It is the total complex of soil, water, air and living organisms that forms a complete ecosystem. Many authorities even go a step further. They define the biosphere as “the space of our planet that is taken up by living beings” or as “that part of the Earth's crust, of its hydrosphere and atmosphere, that builds the environment for life” (compare Suess). Here, the biological components fall into the background and the notion biosphere has changed from biological into geobiochemical1.

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    Florkin, M., Bull. Acad. Roy. Belg. Cl. Sci., 5e Serie, 51, 239 (1965).

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    Teilhard de Chardin, P., Man's Place in Nature, (Collins, London, 1966).

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GILLARD, A. On the Terminology of Biosphere and Ecosphere. Nature 223, 500–501 (1969). https://doi.org/10.1038/223500a0

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