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
Namibian savanna woodlands Last Updated on 2015-07-25 20:49:25 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Namibian savanna woodlands ecoregion covers the Great Escarpment that delimits the interior of southern Africa from both the Kaokoveld Desert and Namib Desert. This broken and deeply dissected escarpment is an area of high endemism for plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. The northern area of the ecoregion, the Kaoko escarpment, is an endemism "hotspot" (an area of extremely high species richness and endemism). The Namibian savanna woodlands comprise a land area of approximately 87,100 square miles. This northern area is poorly protected and is under threat from poaching, off-road driving, and to a lesser extent from farming, and resultant habitat fragmentation;  much of this destabilisation in the Angolan portion of the ecoregion stems from the Cuban mercenaries... More »
Kaokoveld Desert Last Updated on 2015-07-14 14:38:13 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Kaokoveld Desert represents the northern area of the vast Namib Desert. It is a harsh, arid landscape of rugged mountains, gravel plains and shifting sand dunes. Surface water is scarce, with only one perennial river flowing through the region, the Kunene River. However, the dry riverbeds transecting the area are the lifelines of the desert. They are well vegetated and are home to large mammals such as African Elephant, Black Rhino and Giraffe. The remainder of the landscape is poorly vegetated and extremely arid. Coastal fogs allow a range of interesting, desert-adapted animal species to survive in this low-rainfall environment. The relict gymnosperm Welwitschia mirabilis, which represents the sole surviving member of its family, is found throughout the ecoregion. The Kaokoveld Desert is well protected in... More »
Kalahari xeric savanna Last Updated on 2015-07-10 18:01:28 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Kalahari xeric savanna is an ecoregion in southern Africa characterized by a harsh climate, where temperatures may vary by 44°C from night to day, and rainfall is infrequent. Rain appears only during the austral summer on the reddish-brown Kalahari sands , pelting the savanna with violent, localized storms. Although this area is semi-arid, there is an impressive diversity of migratory birds and large mammals, both herbivorous and carnivorous; in fact, 550 different vertebrates have been observed in the Kalahari xeric savanna.  This ecoregion is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome. A considerable fraction (approximately 18 percent) of the Kalahari xeric savanna is protected. Where lands are not protected, overgrazing has often severely degraded habitat. Fences are a significant... More »
Highveld grasslands Last Updated on 2015-07-07 21:46:02 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Highveld grasslands ecoregion covers a large portion of west-central South Africa. Grasslands all over the world have experienced dramatic habitat destruction as a result of anthropogenic changes. The Highveld grasslands are no exception, with agriculture severely fragmenting this once-expansive region. This ecoregion now provides the last remaining stronghold of a number of grassland species that have suffered major reductions in abundance in the grassland biome, and which are consequently threatened with extinction (e.g. the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea). There is a relatively biodiverse vertebrate fauna, with 608 taxa recorded. This ecoregion is part of the Montane Grasslands and Shrublands biome, within the Afrotropics Realm. The ecoregion draws its name from the high interior plateau known as... More »
Nama Karoo Last Updated on 2015-07-02 23:56:32 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Nama Karoo is a vast, open, arid ecoregion in southern Africa dominated by low-shrub vegetation, punctuated by rugged relief. Although not remarkably rich in species or endemism, the flora and fauna of the region are impressively adapted to its climatic extremes. The Nama Karoo ecoregion is part of the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome, within the Afrotropics Realm. The major threats to biodiversity are posed by pastoralism, introduction of alien species of plants, mining and conversion of native habitat to agriculture, all exacerbated by the fact that very little - less than one percent - of the ecoregion is conserved. Most of the Nama Karoo occurs on the central plateau of the Cape Province in South Africa, although it extends over the Orange River into Namibia in the northwest. The Great... More »