Ecotone and Edge Effect
The edge effect is one of the fascinating concepts of ecology. In this article, we will discuss in brief about ecotone and edge effect, and other important Environment Terminology.
Ecotone is a transition area between two biomes. It is where two communities meet and integrate. It may be narrow or wide, and it may be local (the zone between a field and forest) or regional (the transition between forest and grassland ecosystems).
Ecocline is a zone of gradual but continuous change from one ecosystem to another when there is no sharp boundary between the two in terms of species composition.
Ecocline occurs across the environmental gradient (gradual change in abiotic factors such as altitude, temperature (thermocline), salinity (halocline), depth, etc.).
The edge effect refers to the changes in population or community structures that occur at the boundary of two habitats (ecotone). Sometimes the number of species and the population density of some of the species in the ecotone is much greater than either community. This is called the edge effect.
The organisms which occur primarily or most abundantly in this zone are known as edge species. In the terrestrial ecosystem,
The edge effect is especially applicable to birds. For example, the density of birds is greater in the ecotone between the forest and the desert.
Other Important Terms
Ecological Niche- Niche refers to the unique functional role and position of a species in its habitat or ecosystem.
The functional characteristics of a species in its habitat is referred to as “niche” in that common habitat. In nature, many species occupy the same habitat, but they perform different functions:
habitat niche – where it lives, food niche – what is eaten or decomposes & what species it competes with,
reproductive niche – how and when it reproduces,
physical & chemical niche – temperature, land shape, land slope, humidity & another requirement.
Niche plays an essential role in the conservation of organisms. If we have to conserve species in their native habitat, we should have knowledge about the niche requirements of the species.
Ecotype– sometimes called ecospecies, describes a genetically distinct geographic variety, population, or race within a species, which is genotypically adapted to specific environmental conditions.
Ecotope- Ecological habitat on the scale of individual organisms sharing space. Many ecotopes together, either adjacent or overlapping, make up an eco-region or larger unit.
An ecotope comprises all the constituent parts found at that locality on the same scale, such as the physiotope (landform), the geotope (rocks and soil), and the biotope (living flora and fauna).
Ecophenes (Ecads) are plants of the same species that differ in appearance, such as size, erect or prostrate nature, reproductive vigor, etc., in differing environmental conditions. These variations are not genetically fixed, when transplanted to neutral conditions the variations vanish.
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