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
Mediterranean woodlands and forests Last Updated on 2016-04-08 01:08:00 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Mediterranean woodlands and forests ecoregion stretches from the coastal plains to the hills of northern Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and eventually surrounds the Atlas Mountains. To the north is the Alboran Sea, the westernmost element of the Mediterranean Sea. The variety of substrates and climates leads to a diverse mix of vegetation including holm oak forests, cork oak forests, wild olive and carob woodlands, as well as extensive Berber thuya forest. This old, endemic North African conifer species is representative of the great diversity and endemism of both flora and fauna in this ecoregion. Reptile diversity is high and the region harbors charismatic large mammals, including the rare and endangered Barbary leopard. Unfortunately, this region contains expanding human populations and is enduring... More »
Zambezian and mopane woodlands Last Updated on 2016-01-20 13:37:37 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Zambezian and mopane woodlands are dispersed throughout southern Africa, bounded by the Luangwa River in the north and the Pongola River in the south. Mopane tree (Colophospermum mopane) woodlands mix with Zambezian woodlands in lower-elevation areas, often along major river valleys. Although the ecoregion, particularly the mopane communities, is considered to be low in endemism, it supports some of the largest and most significant wildlife populations in Africa, particularly those of the endangered African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and critically endangered Black rhino (Diceros bicornis). Important populations of predators are also found in the Zambezian and Mopane Woodlands. The abundance of wildlife can be largely attributed to the high level of protection in the ecoregion, in which more than 45 percent of... More »
Zambezian flooded grasslands Last Updated on 2016-01-17 15:49:24 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 the majority of the year. Large populations of waterbirds gather during the rainy season, and numerous herd animals and  carnivores  frequent the landscape. However, in a trend of rapid population growth and increasing need for land and natural resources, this fragile ecoregion may face increasing threat. Several conservation measures... More »
Enriquillo wetlands Last Updated on 2015-09-12 15:54:07 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Consisting of a series of lagoons, the Enriquillo wetlands ecoregion  represents the remains of an ancient marine channel that divided the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) into two paleo-islands more than 5000 years before present. The largest lake in this ecoregion, Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic is the largest and most hypersaline lake in all of the Antilles. It consists of a depression that is approximately 44 metres (m) below sea level, surrounded by thorny subtropical mountains and dry forests of great biological importance. The lake surface is the lowest topographic point in the entire Caribbean Basin. This lake is home to the largest population of American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), although currently its the populations of this reptile are at risk. It is also the... More »
Nama Karoo Last Updated on 2015-09-07 17:42:32 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 less than one percent of the ecoregion is presently 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 Escarpment,... More »