Ecotone: Definition, Importance & Edge Effect | Ecotone UPSC

By Balaji

Updated on: February 17th, 2023

Ecotone is an area that acts as a boundary between two ecosystems or a zone of transition between two biological communities where they merge. The Ecotones can be large, small, or regional. Ecotone holds significant environmental importance. The area between the two ecosystems contains a large variety of species of flora and fauna, as this area is affected by both ecosystems.

Some examples of Ecotone include marshlands, mangrove forests, etc. In this article, we are going to explain Ecotone in detail, which will be beneficial for the candidates covering the environment syllabus of the UPSC Exam.

Table of content

  • 1. What is Ecotone? (more)
  • 2. Characteristics of Ecotone (more)
  • 3. Importance of Ecotone (more)
  • 4. Ecotone UPSC (more)
  • 5. Ecotone UPSC Sample Questions (more)

What is Ecotone?

Ecotone can be defined as the zone where two different ecosystems meet. Mountain ranges can also create Ecotone as there are different climate conditions on the slopes.

  • As it is, they are between two ecosystems; it holds the features of each ecosystem and contains species that aren’t found in the overlapping groups.
  • Ecotones can also be spotted at the water-land interface or one body of water meets another.
  • For example, Mangrove Forests are an ecotone between the terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

Characteristics of Ecotone

The Ecotone can be wide or narrow, and it has species that are different from those found in the bordering systems.

  • Ecotone can be man-made or natural. A common example of man-made Ecotone can be the area between agricultural fields and a forest.
  • The characteristics of Ecotone are transitional to the neighboring ecosystems.
  • Here, the number of species or their population density of them can be significantly higher than in either ecosystem. This is known as the edge effect.

Importance of Ecotone

The Ecotone contains a wide range of species and a greater variety of organisms. It offers a nesting place for animals. It works like a bridge between two different populations because of the larger genetic diversity.

Ecotones can also work like buffer zones that offer protection to the ecosystems from possible damage. For example, Wetlands can absorb pollutants. Ecotones tell about global climate change. Nowadays, scientists are taking an interest in studying Ecotones so that they can learn about the shifting boundaries between the ecosystems.

Ecotone UPSC

Ecotone is an extremely important topic that finds its relevance in the environment and ecology section of the UPSC Syllabus. Topics related to climate change, biodiversity, and the environment are given high importance these days in the IAS exam. So candidates preparing for the UPSC Exam must have in-depth knowledge of Ecotone so that they can answer all the questions asked from this topic.

Ecotone UPSC Sample Questions

Question: Consider the following statements on Ecotone.

  1. It is a zone where two or more different ecosystems meet.
  2. Ecotones can also be found when one body of water meets another.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: c

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