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Ecoregions

An ecoregion is a contiguous area characterized by well defined similarity in flora and fauna as well as geomorphology, climate and soils; ecoregions are generally relatively large geographic units on the order of 50,000 square kilometers or more. Ecoregions may be terrestrial or marine, and do not recognize any political boundaries or landscape alterations by humans. Generally an ecoregion is depicted by a geographic descriptor coupled with a biome identity, further articulating one or more specific climatic or dominant plant community appellations: for example, Chilean Mattoral or Madagascar Dry Deciduous Forests.

There are several alternative formal naming schemes for the Earth's ecoregions; one of the most widely used, developed by the World Wildlife Foundation, recognizes 867 separate ecoregions. Because of the very large scale of an ecoregion, the landscape is not monolithic, but may have pockets of ecological diversity; however, the ecoregion is defined by its preponderant vegetative, geological and meteorological composition.  Correspondingly boundaries between regions are sometimes diffuse, resulting in a broad ecotone.

 

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    Although the Borneo peat swamp forests are not as biodiverse as neighbouring lowland rainforests, the Borneo Peat Swamp Forests are some of the most speciose peat swamp forests... More »

  • Jalisco dry forests Featured Article Jalisco dry forests Jalisco dry forests

    The Jalisco dry forests on the Pacific coast of Mexico is characterized by low lying mountains and a relatively high diversity of floral and faunal species. Among the richest... More »

  • Belizean coast mangroves Featured Article Belizean coast mangroves Belizean coast mangroves

    The Belizean coast mangroves ecoregion (part of the larger Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion) extends along the Caribbean Coast from Guatemala, encompassing the... More »

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  • Great Victoria Desert Featured Article Great Victoria Desert Great Victoria Desert

    A vast, sparsely populated region covered by dunefields and gibber plains, the Great Victoria Desert receives little rain and experiences extreme temperatures. A highly... More »

  • Magellanic subpolar forests Featured Article Magellanic subpolar forests Magellanic subpolar forests

    The Magellanic subpolar forests is an ecoregion dominated by trees of the genus Nothofagus; this geographic zone covers the western part of the southern end of South America as... More »

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    The Patagonian steppe ecoregion extends approximately from the mid-Andean Precordillera southward, terminating immediately north of the Strait of Magellan near the Rio Gallegos.... More »

Recently Updated
Atacama Desert Last Updated on 2014-04-23 19:10:09 The Atacama Desert is an irregular elongated strip of desert along the northwest coast of Chile, essentially bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west. It extends nearly 1600 kilometres (km) and reaches a maximum width of 180 km. In many areas rainfall has never been recorded, and the Atacama is considered one of the driest deserts in the world. Consequently, an extremely arid, almost barren, landscape predominates. Despite the aridity of this desert, some cacti (Eulychnia), perennials (Nolana), and mesquite (Prosopis) occur in basins where occasional water accumulation occurs. Relatively few animal species have adapted to this arid environment and therefore, faunal diversity and density is extremely low. Even bacteria are scarce, and in many portions of the desert insects and fungi are absent. The intrinsic value of the Atacama Desert's plant and animal communities lies in the... More »
Sierra Madre de Oaxaca pine-oak forests Last Updated on 2014-04-23 17:49:46 The Sierra Madre de Oaxaca pine-oak forests ecoregion of northern Oaxaca, Mexico exhibits a large number of endangered species, so that their conservation value is outstanding in terms of uniqueness of habitat that supports these species. The Sierra Madre de Oaxaca pine-oak forests is within the Tropical and Subtropical Conifer Forests biome, and the ecoregion is known for elevated plant endemism, especially within the Sierra de Juarez montane forests. Indigenous peoples have long used the land extensively for agriculture and cattle farming. This ecoregion is located in northern Oaxaca State, and is delineated by the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca Mountains, which have characteristically abrupt and rugged topography. Its tallest peak is Zempoaltepetl (3400 metres), and most of the terrain in this area is above 1000 metres. Three mountain chains or sierras constitute the Sierra Madre... More »
Sierra de la Laguna pine-oak forests Last Updated on 2014-04-23 17:41:20 The Sierra de la Laguna pine-oak forest is a mountainous ecoregion which rises from the arid Baja California Sur, creating islands of unique vegetative communities. There are approximately 694 plant species, approximately 85 of which are endemic to this ecoregion. Overall species richness is low to moderate, with a total of only 231 vertebrate taxa, for example. The ecoregion is classified to be in the Tropical and Subtropical Coniferous Forests biome. Much of the pine-oak association remains intactThe condition of an ecological habitat being an undisturbed or natural environment due to the inaccessibility of the rugged and inaccessible terrain; however, overgrazing occurs in some parts of the ecoregion, and faunal predators are often killed by local ranchers to protect livestock. This ecoregion is contained in a larger area known as the Cape Region, and constitutes the... More »
Windward Islands dry forests Last Updated on 2014-04-23 17:04:52 The Windward Islands dry forests ecoregion is sparsely distributed among the Windward Island Group of the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles. It is typically found as an intermediate gradient between the more mesichabitat characterized by moderate soil moisture, high-elevation forests and the xeric, coastal areas. Much of this ecoregion has been substantially altered by shifting cultivation. Many areas that were once dry evergreen or semi-evergreen seasonal forest, are now cultivated and dominated by farms, rural villages, roads, pastures and banana tree patches. This ecoregion shares flora and fauna with adjacent moist forests and, in some areas, with species native to coastal habitats. Arid coastal areas and inaccessible interior mountains put a disproportionate amount of human-related pressures (i.e., agricultural expansion, roads, buildings) on this ecoregion. Consequently,... More »
Trinidad and Tobago dry forests Last Updated on 2014-04-23 17:00:38 The Trinidad and Tobago dry forests are found on the Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Due to recent separation from South America these islands' flora and fauna reflect the ecology of equatorial South America more than any other Windward Island where biotic endemism is common. On Trinidad, this ecoregion’s proximity to Port of Spain, the industrial and commercial center and focal point for tourism in the country, has predisposed it to significant agricultural and industrial alterations. As much as 13% (69,000 hectares (ha)) of the land area in Trinidad and Tobago has been proposed for protected areas status, portions of which are included within this ecoregion. Official Government approval is still pending however, recent trends indicate an environmentally conscious direction for the islands’ natural resources. This ecoregion covers only a small portion... More »