What’s in an Ecotone? Lichens living on the edge…

An ecotone is a transition zone between two ecological systems. Ecotones can range in size: in some places ecotones are wide (e.g. forest – grassland ecotones), in other places they are quite narrow (e.g. riparian – arid shrub steppe). In the ecotone, habitats from each ecosystem form a mixed patchy mosaic, often with species assemblages not found elsewhere, and interesting juxtapositions.

From “Ecotone Hierarchies” by James R. Gosz, in Ecological Applications, Vol. 3, No. 3. (Aug., 1993).

Ecotones are important beyond the conceptual wonderings they induce. For land management, monitoring how an ecotone shifts location over a landscape can demonstrate patterns of climatic change and ecosystem health, giving important data for developing strategies to encourage ecosystem resilience. Continue reading “What’s in an Ecotone? Lichens living on the edge…”