Today is the birthday of Sir Arthur George Tansley, an English botanist born in 1871 who was a trailblazer in ecology. Beginning in the 1920s, Tansley published a number of texts on plant biology, including his 1939 work, "The British Islands and their Vegetation," which provided a comprehensive survey of Britain's native flora.
In 1935, Tansley coined the term "ecosystem" as the complex of organisms and their physical environment. He also became active in habitat conservation and helped spur the creation of The Nature Conservancy, which he headed from 1949 to 1953.
[Source: Trevor I. Williams, Ed. A Biographical Dictionary of Scientists, Third Edition. John Wiley & Sons. New York. 1982.]