Ecotone Dynamics in Space and Time

  • Paul A. Delcourt
  • Hazel R. Delcourt
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 92)


The term ecotone recently has been redefined as the “zone of transition between adjacent ecological systems, having a set of characteristics uniquely defined by space and time scales, and by the strength of the interactions between adjacent ecological systems” (diCastri et al. 1988). Because in many cases the physiologically determined limits of species ranges occur within ecotones (Curtis 1959, Chabot and Mooney 1985), these transition zones may be sensitive to environmental changes (Gosz and Sharpe 1989); monitoring of ecotones therefore may provide a means of detecting, for example, immediate biotic responses to climatic changes caused by continued industrial release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere (Hansen et al. 1988). Ecotones may act as buffer zones between adjacent communities, serving as semipermeable barriers across which flow energy, nutrients, and propagules, or as landscape boundaries that potentially confer stability to adjacent communities (van der Maarel 1976, Wiens et al. 1985, Holland 1988). An understanding of the structure, function, and dynamics of ecotones is critical to developing objective criteria for measuring changes in attributes of ecotones that reflect environmental change.


Boreal Forest Beta Diversity Tree Taxon Polar Frontal Zone Adjacent Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Delcourt
  • Hazel R. Delcourt

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