What is the meaning of "biosphere"?


Quick Answer

According to The Encyclopedia of Earth, the biosphere refers to the biological component of earth systems that also include the hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, anthrosphere, cryosphere and more. Parts of the biosphere include all living organisms in the planet, as well as the dead organic matter that they produce.

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Full Answer

The Encyclopedia of Earth states that the term was coined by the geologist Eduard Suess in 1875. He defined the biosphere as the place on the surface of the earth where life dwells. Additionally, Vladimir I. Vernadsky's definition of the term resembles its current ecological usage. He redefined ecology as the science of the biosphere, and the concept became the center of earth systems science.

According to The Encyclopedia of Earth, the concept of the biosphere is common in many scientific disciplines, such as geology, astronomy, geophysics, biogeography, evolution and hydrology. Moreover, it is considered a core concept in the fields of physical geography, ecology and earth science.

The Encyclopedia of Earth explains that the biosphere is regarded as an important component of earth systems because it interacts with the other spheres and exchanges energy and matter with them. Additionally, the biosphere also helps in the biogeochemical cycling of elements such as nitrogen, carbon, sulfur and phosphorous. Lastly, it is recognized as the global ecosystem composed of the entire biodiversity on the planet performing all the biological functions, such as respiration, nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis, denitrification and decomposition.

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