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Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
  Issue:  Volume 52, Number 1 / January 2006
  Pages:  29 - 53
  URL:  Linking Options

Ecotones: Marginal or Central Areas of Transition?

Salit Kark A1 and Berndt J. van Rensburg A2

A1 The Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
A2 Department of Zoology and Entomology, Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa


Areas of environmental transition, where ecological communities coincide, are sometimes termed ecotones. These regions often correspond with sharp environmental gradients. Ecotones occur at multiple spatial scales, ranging from transitions between biomes to local small-scale transitions. In recent years ecotones have received increasing scientific attention after being neglected for years, as studies historically often focused on distinct communities. However, it is still debatable whether these transitional regions are speciation and biodiversity hotspots that deserve special conservation interest or are actually areas that hold marginal populations that depend on other parts of the range for the maintenance of their biodiversity and therefore should not deserve primary investment. This paper discusses some of the recent advancements in our understanding of the role of ecotones in ecology, evolution, and conservation.


boundaries, boundary detection methods, ecotones, review, transitional environments

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