An attempt to delineate rather than to precisely define what we mean by "ecophysiology" is based on a brief historical overview of what eventually led to development of instrumentation and sampling strategies for analyses that allow description of physiological performance in the field. These techniques are surveyed. Ecophysiology originally is aut-ecology dedicated to the behaviour of individual plants, species or higher taxa, viz. "physiotypes", in particular habitats. Examples of ecophysiological diversity are developed, which illustrate gradual merging with more integrative considerations of functions and dynamics of habitats or ecosystems, i.e. a trend of research towards physiological syn-ecology. The latter is exemplified by studies with comparisons of a variety of morphotypes and physiotypes within a given habitat or ecosystem and across a range of habitats or ecosystems. The high demand and complexity as well as the excitement of ecology and ecophysiology arise from the quest to cover all conditions of the existence of organisms according to Ernst Haeckel's original definition of "ecology".

ecological history; ecological integration; ecophysiology; physiological syn-ecology

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