What is the Ecotone and Edge Effect?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

Ecotone and Edge Effect: An ecotone is an area where an ecosystem (or community) rapidly migrates from one to another. With higher densities and biodiversity due to a number of more diverse ecosystem traits, diverse flora, and landscape aspects, the edge effect is a phenomenon along the ecotone. The term “edge effect” refers to changes in population or community structures that occur near the border of two environments (ecotone).

Ecotone and Edge Effect

The Ecotone and Edge Effect are two prominent terms related to the ecosystem. On one hand, where an Ecotone refers to a high-tension zone of heavy migration, the Edge Effect refers to sudden instances of change in the structures of a community or population that are present in an Ecotone. As a result, ecotones are receiving more attention from scientists and environmentalists.

The characteristics of the Ecotone and the Edge Effect have been elaborated on below:

Characteristics of Ecotone

An Ecotone could be wide or narrow. It is a high-pressure zone (as it has conditions intermediate to the bordering ecosystems).

  • It could have species that are completely different from those found in nearby systems.
  • There are both natural and man-made ecotones.
  • A man-made ecotone, for example, stands between an agricultural field and a forest.

Characteristics of Edge Effect

Edge Effect simply refers to the changes occurring in the ecotone. Usually, there are instances where the population of a certain species in an ecotone is greater than the other existing species. This is referred to as the Edge Effect.

  • The species of organisms that exist in great abundance in any particular Ecotone as compared to others is known as an Edge Species.
  • Birds in a terrestrial ecosphere are a good example of the Edge Effect.

Importance of Ecotone

  • They have a broader variety of living things.
  • They also make a good nesting site for animals looking for a place to nest or food.
  • Because of their greater genetic diversity, they serve as a conduit for gene transfer between populations.
  • They can act as a buffer zone, shielding nearby ecosystems from harm.
  • A wetland, for example, can retain pollutants and prevent them from entering rivers.
  • Ecotones are another sensitive indicator of global climate change.
  • Climate change is thought to be the cause of altering ecosystem boundaries.


What is the Ecotone and Edge Effect?

An area where an ecosystem (or community) changes abruptly from one to another is known as an ecotone. Due to the more diverse ecological characteristics, the diverse flora, and the number of landscape elements, there is a higher density and biodiversity along the ecotone. This phenomenon is known as the edge effect.

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