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 dry deciduous forests Last Updated on 2015-05-21 20:56:23 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 portion of these forests have already been cleared, and the remaining forests are fragmented and critically threatened by uncontrolled burning and clearing for 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, including the World Heritage Site... 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 »
Kalahari acacia-baikiaea woodlands Last Updated on 2015-05-11 18:02:12 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Semi-arid Kalahari acacia-baikiaea woodlands stretches across the center of southern Africa, from northern Namibia through Botswana and slightly into the Tuli Block of South Africa. Surface water is scarce, and droughts occur approximately once every seven years. Therefore, the human population is relatively low, particularly on the sandveld that covers most of the ecoregion. This Kalahari woodland supports a rich and diverse fauna, including a variety of ungulates and a number of threatened large mammalian taxa such as White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), Painted Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus), and African Elephant (Loxodonta africana). However, human populations are increasing, and the burgeoning cattle industry has far-reaching adverse effects on the natural environment and... 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 »