Ecological Flows Across Landscape Boundaries: A Conceptual Overview

  • John A. Wiens
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 92)


Natural or managed ecosystems are mosaics of patches of different habitats or environments. These patches are defined by their boundaries, and the transition zone between adjacent patches is recognized as an ecotone (Holland 1988). Boundaries occur when structural or functional properties of ecological systems change discontinuously or nonmonotonically in space or time. Ecotones can therefore be characterized by (a) the change in the rate of change in variables of interest in space or time, (b) the contrast between the states of the patches on either side of the ecotone, and (c) the smoothness of the transition zone (the variance of the rate of change) (Fig. 10.1).


Passive Diffusion Patch Type Boundary Flow Boundary Permeability Ecological Flow 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

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  • John A. Wiens

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