FORUM Ecotones and ecoclines are different van der Maarel, Eddy Department of Ecological Botany, Uppsala University, Box 559, S-751 22 Uppsala, Sweden; tel. +46 18 182860; Fax +46 18 559888; E-mail EDDY@PAX.UU.SE Ecotone and ecocline: the starting point Ecotones are commonly considered to be ecological transition zones at large, also in most textbooks. A typical textbook definition of an ecotone is âa narrow ecological zone which possesses a mixture of floristic and faunistic characteristics in between two different and relatively homogeneous ecological community types. Ecotones often represent gradients between two vegetations with different physiognomiesâ (Allen & Starr 1982). Despite earlier attempts (e.g. van der Maarel 1964, 1976), I have not succeeded in convincing colleagues that we should differentiate between a) the original concept of ecotone in a strict sense (Livingston 1903), i.e. an environmentally stochastic stress zone (tonus = stress), and b) the concept of ecocline (coined independently by Whittaker 1960 and, as coenocline, by van der Maarel & Westhoff 1964), a gradient zone which is relatively heterogeneous but environmentally more stable. Of course, variation in boundary types has been recognized in many textbooks (most clearly in Daubenmire 1968), but to my knowledge only Margalef (first, 1979, in
Journal of Vegetation Science – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1990
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