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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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  • 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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      The Grand Canyon epitomizes the Colorado Plateau, an area that has been called the "land of color and canyons." The Plateau can be thought of as an... More »

  • 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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Recently Updated
Tenasserim-South Thailand semi-evergreen rainforests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 18:33:35 The Tenasserim-South Thailand semi-evergreen rainforests cover the transition zone from continental dry evergreen forests common in the north to semi-evergreen rainforests to the south. As a consequence, this ecoregion contains some of the highest diversity of both bird and mammal species found in the Indo-Pacific region. The relatively intact hill and montane forests form some of the best remaining habitat essential to the survival of Asian elephants and tigers in the Indo-Pacific region. However, the lowland forests are heavily degraded, and many lowland specialists such as the endemic Gurney's pitta survive in a few isolated reserves. This ecoregion encompasses the mountainous, semi-evergreen rain forests of the southern portion of the Tenasserim Range, which separates Thailand and Myanmar, and the numerous small ranges of peninsular Thailand. This ecoregion also... More »
Sumatran peat swamp forests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 18:22:46 The Sumatran peat swamp forests are a distinctive forest type, and their biodiversity is characteristic of the associated habitat. The peat swamp forests in Indonesia are less threatened than the freshwater swamp forests. This is partly because of their low nutrient levels, which limit the productivity of their vegetation, including agricultural crops. However, despite their poor productivity in the past five years, significant areas of peat swamp forests have been burned in Indonesia, and less than one-half of these forests remain. This ecoregion represents the peat swamp forests along the eastern coast of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, as well as the Riau archipelago. Based on the Köppen climate zone system, this ecoregion falls in the tropical wet climate zone. The peat swamp forests of Sumatra have similar characteristics to those in Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia.... More »
Sulu Archipelago rainforests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 17:47:31 Although these islands represent transitional stepping stones from the island of Borneo to Mindanao in the Philippines, they have evolved their own distinctive faunas. The Sulu Archipelago rainforests are a principal historical ecoregion of these islands, although most of their habitat has been destroyed. The islands themselves are the dividing feature between the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea. Almost no forest remains on Sulu, and only the eastern portion of Tawitawi is forested; this outcome has resulted from slash-and-burn practises of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the islands are extremely politically unstable, which exacerbates a difficult conservation situation. This ecoregion includes the main islands of Jolo (Sulu) and Tawitawi and the surrounding smaller islands from Sibutu up to but not including Basilan Island. The climate of the ecoregion is tropical wet. There are... More »
Southwest Borneo freshwater swamp forests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 14:55:54 The Southwest Borneo freshwater swamp forests can range in species diversity from numbers rivaling those of neighboring lowland rainforests to single-species forest stands of the Mallotus tree. Many of the animals that use lowland rain forest also use freshwater swamp forest, including all monkey and ape species. Like all other freshwater swamps found in the Indo-Pacific region, this ecoregion has been intensively converted to agricultural and plantation lands. Further protection is urgently needed to stem the loss of this ecoregion's native vegetation. This ecoregion is made up of the freshwater swamp forests in Kalimantan. These forests are located just inland from the southwestern coast, with a few small areas towards the center of the island. They are associated with coastal swamps, inland lakes, and low-lying river basins. Based on the Köppen climate zone system,... More »
Peninsular Malaysian lowland rainforests Last Updated on 2014-04-17 14:22:36 The Peninsular Malaysian lowland rainforests ecoregion, with 195 mammal species, has the second most mammal species in the Indo-Pacific, behind the Borneo lowland rainforests. Yet most of the wide-ranging or top carnivore species lead a tenuous existence within these biologically noteworthy forests. The tiger, Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Malayan tapir, gaur, and clouded leopard all fall into this category. As in many other tropical forests in this region, habitat loss and poaching are the two primary reasons for the decline in these and other species. This ecoregion is comprised of the lowland moist forests of Peninsular Malaysia and the extreme southern part of Thailand. There are no clear seasons in peninsular Malaysia, and rainfall is plentiful year-round. Two monsoons punctuate the region. From October to March a northeastern monsoon brings extra rain to the eastern... More »