BackgroundHumans have dramatically changed natural ecosystems around the world as their capacity to manage their environment for multiple uses has evolved in step with agricultural, industrial and green revolutions. Numerous natural ecosystems have been replaced by various artificial or semi-artificial ecosystems, the ecosystem has changed. To a certain extent, this is ecosystem evolution. So far, there is no definite ecological theory about the mechanism for evolution of an ecosystem. Even though the discipline of community ecology has a relatively comprehensive and well-described theory of succession, at the different ecological research levels, is it the same mechanism for the community succession and ecosystem evolution? What is the factor that drives ecosystem evolution?ResultsThis paper puts forward the “Ecosystem Core” hypothesis to scientifically address the above problems. We define abiotic component of ecosystem as “Ecosystem Core” or “Resource Core”, which provides the foundation (matter and energy) for the existence and progress of organisms and should be the nucleus of an ecosystem. In this paper, we explain the basic meaning of this hypothesis, review its theoretical foundation, and provide a demonstration (based on emergy theory, which is an accounting tool that considers both the environmental and economic inputs that are directly or indirectly required by a process to generate a product and it measures real wealth, independent of financial considerations) of the hypothesis, and discuss the mechanism of ecosystem evolution. The “Ecosystem Core” hypothesis reveals the quantitative relationship between the energy input and ecosystem evolution.ConclusionsThe input of artificial auxiliary energy is the direct cause of ecosystem evolution. Different combinations of natural and purchased emergy are coupled to maintain the same ecosystem under the different environmental conditions. When artificial energy enters the ecosystem, its role is similar to that of the microscopic particles that collide with the nucleus in the nuclear reaction, and after mutual reaction, the atom will form a new atomic structure, and for the ecosystem, a new form of resource composition and energy action will appear, and the corresponding species of life will change, then ecosystem complete its evolution.