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.

 

  • Ecoregion Featured Article Ecoregion Ecoregion

    An ecoregion is a relatively large unit of land or sea that contains geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities with boundaries that approximate the original extent... More »

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

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Jalisco dry forests on the Pacific coast of Mexico is characterized by low lying mountains and a... 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 »

  • Borneo peat swamp forests Featured Article Borneo peat swamp forests Borneo peat swamp forests

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Although the Borneo peat swamp forests are not as biodiverse as neighbouring lowland rainforests, the... More »

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

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection A vast, sparsely populated region covered by dunefields and gibber plains, the Great Victoria Desert... More »

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

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Magellanic subpolar forests is an ecoregion dominated by trees of the genus Nothofagus; this... More »

  • Patagonian steppe Featured Article Patagonian steppe Patagonian steppe

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Patagonian steppe ecoregion extends approximately from the mid-Andean Precordillera southward,... More »

  • Angolan mopane woodlands Featured Article Angolan mopane woodlands Angolan mopane woodlands

    WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Angolan Mopane Woodlands are located in northern Namibia and  southern Angola, completely... More »

  • Ecoregions of Chile Featured Article Ecoregions of Chile Ecoregions of Chile

    Chile has eight ecoregions that occur entirely or partly within its borders on the mainland and three ecorgions offshore: Sechura desert Atacama... More »

Recently Updated
Zambezian halophytics Last Updated on 2015-05-03 14:48:59 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Zambezian halophylics ecoregion includes two spatially disjunctive units in Southern Africa: The Makgadikgadi Pan complex in Botswana and a smaller hypersaline unit in southern inland Mozambique. One of the largest saltpans in the world, the Makgadikgadi Pan complex in Botswana stretches out over 12,000 square kilometers. Surrounded by the semi-arid Kalahari savannas, the pans experience a harsh climate, hot with little rain, and are normally a vast, glaring expanse of salt-saturated clay. These pans are sustained by freshwater from the Nata River, and more infrequently, from input from the Okavango Delta by way of the Boteti River. Saline- and drought-tolerant plant species line the pans, with grasslands further out. A wide variety of wildlife can be found on the grasslands, including ungulates and large... More »
Southern Africa bushveld Last Updated on 2015-05-02 20:03:07 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Southern Africa bushveld is an element of the vast savannas that cover much of southern Africa. There is low endemism in this ecoregion for both flora or fauna, but the charismatic large mammals and rich birdlife characteristic of African savannas are in evidence. The rugged Waterberg Mountains contain the highest levels of species richness and endemism in the region, and are noted for their reptilian endemism. Cattle ranching and urban expansion from the nearby Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging complex are the major threats to the conservation of this ecoregion. However, ecotourism has become a major land-use commitment in the bushveld and has led to the establishment of a number of small nature reserves and private game parks, which augment the conservation status of this ecoregion. The Southern... More »
Zambezian flooded grasslands Last Updated on 2015-04-08 23:59:46 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Located within the miombo and mopane woodlands of the Central African Plateau, Zambezian flooded grasslands are an anomaly of productivity and abundance in a landscape characterized by nutrient deficient soil and associated vegetation. Unlike the surrounding woodlands that generally support animals only in rather low densities, the wetlands and floodplains of this ecoregion provide habitats to sizable faunal populations, since food and water are abundant throughout most of the year. Large populations of waterbirds gather during the rainy season, and numerous herd animals and  carnivores  frequent the landscape. However, in a climate of rapid population growth and increasing need for land and natural resources, this fragile ecoregion may face increasing threat. Several conservation measures are... More »
Kalahari acacia-baikiaea woodlands Last Updated on 2015-04-08 23:56:27 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Semi-arid Kalahari acacia-baikiaea woodland stretches across the center of southern Africa, from northern Namibia through Botswana and just into the Tuli Block of South Africa. Surface water is scarce here, and droughts occur approximately once every seven years. As a result, the human population is relatively low, especially on the sandveld that covers most of the ecoregion. This woodland supports a rich and diverse fauna, including a variety of ungulates and a number of threatened large mammals such as White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), African Painted Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus), and African Elephant (Loxodonta africana). However, human populations are increasing and the growing cattle industry has far-reaching adverse effects on the environment and wildlife. The... More »
Angolan scarp savanna and woodlands Last Updated on 2015-04-08 23:53:01 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Angolan scarp savanna and woodlands ecoregion is a complex area where several major African ecological zones meet, and where topographical features have resulted in a high diversity of vegetation types and significant levels of endemism. Biologically, the most important portion of the ecoregion is the west-facing scarp that supports rainforest at higher altitudes. This forest holds a significant number of endemic birds, and some other endemic animals and plants. The long period of insurrection, foreign mercenary activity and civil instability in Angola have contributed to the outcome that these forests and other parts of the ecoregion have never been adequately surveyed biologically, and hence more endemics can be expected with further study. However, the highly unstable civil war means that all biological... More »