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
Madagascar subhumid forests Last Updated on 2015-05-29 22:09:34 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Madagascar subhumid forests ecoregion, centered in the Central Highlands of Madagascar, contains a large number of endemic species, found in the relict forest patches and also in some wetland areas, but the remaining habitats are agricultural areas that have almost no biological value. This ecoregion is the site of some of the major extinctions of recent times, including that of the world’s largest flightless bird, Aepyornis maximus, and a number of large lemurs. With only small fragmented areas of habitat left within this ecoregion, there is a high risk of further species extinction over the next several decades. The Madagascar subhumid forests is classified within the Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests biome. This ecoregion is an important part of the Madagascar and the Indian... More »
Madagascar dry deciduous forests Last Updated on 2015-05-28 20:11:13 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Madagascar dry deciduous forests of western Madagascar are some of the world’s most species rich and most distinctive tropical dry forests. They are characterized by very high local plant and animal endemism at the species, genera and family levels. A significant fraction of these dry forests have been previously cleared, and the remaining forests are fragmented and critically threatened by uncontrolled burning and cuttining for charcoal production, grazing and agriculture. Since human settlement of this region during the Holocene, an estimated 97 percent of the island’s dry deciduous western forests have been destroyed, and those remaining are extremely localized and fragmented. This ecoregion also contains spectacular limestone karst formations, known as tsingy, and their associated forests,... More »
Madagascar mangroves Last Updated on 2015-05-27 11:30:24 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Shielded from monsoon winds by the Central Highlands of Madagascar, Madagascar mangroves occupy a wide range of environmental and climatic conditions, and chiefly occur at the western coastline along the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean. Although the ecoregion’s species richness is low, it is noteworthy in supporting certain endemic tree species; for example, thre are only 163 vertebrate taxa found in the entire ecoregion. The Madagascar mangroves are within the Mangroves biome of the Afrotropic Realm. These mangroves also shelter highly diverse mollusk and crustacean communities, while capturing sediment that threatens coral reefs and seagrass beds. Dugongs, birds and sea turtles utilise mangroves, as do the native Malagasy people. Rice farming, shrimp aquaculture as well as stockpiling of... More »
Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands Last Updated on 2015-05-16 21:25:29 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Zambezian Baikiaea woodlands lie along a zone where deep Kalahari sands occur in a wide belt along the Angolan-Namibian border across to Zimbabwe, supporting dry deciduous forest dominated by Baikiaea plurijuga. The hot, semi-arid climate and nutrient-poor soils mean that this region is not suitable for farming, and thus it has retained some of its natural vegetation. Over 160 mammal species are found here, including ungulates and large predators. However, human settlements occur along the Kunene, Kwando and Zambezi rivers, and the valuable Baikiaea plurijuga is sought after for the timber trade. The instability promoted in Angola by Soviet financed Cuban troops, and hostilities between Angola and Namibia in the Caprivi Strip have contributed to the degradation of this ecoregion. This ecoregion is a... More »
Zambezian halophytics Last Updated on 2015-05-15 15:26:27 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Zambezian halophytics 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 kilometres. The ecoregion is classified within the Flooded Grasslands and Savanna biome. 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 Alluvial Fan by way of the Boteti River. Saline- and drought-tolerant plant species generally line the pan perimeters, with grasslands... More »