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Ecotone

  • By: Matthew F. Bekker
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

An ecotone is a boundary or transition zone between adjacent ecological communities or systems. Ecotones are produced where a combination of environmental conditions and biotic interactions exceed the physiological limits of the species on either side. They may result from steep environmental gradients such as abrupt changes in temperature or soil moisture or from nonlinear responses of species to more gradual changes in environmental factors. They are a focus of current research in physical geography due to their scale-dependent nature, their effect on species population dynamics and the movement of matter and energy, their relevance to the study of ecological complexity and self-organized ecosystems, and their potential sensitivity to climate change. Recent advances in spatial technologies and techniques have allowed biogeographers and ecologists to ...

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