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[ek-uh-tohn, ee-kuh-] /ˈɛk əˌtoʊn, ˈi kə-/
noun, Ecology
the transition zone between two different plant communities, as that between forest and prairie.
1900-05; eco- + tone < Greek tónos tension
Related forms
ecotonal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ecotone
  • Establish one station at each interface of each ecotone.
  • The original habitat for the species is believed to have been areas of rich soils in the ecotone between open forest and prairie.
  • Understanding the physical conditions which drive ecotone location change is critical for resource management.
British Dictionary definitions for ecotone


/ˈiːkəˌtəʊn; ˈɛkə-/
the zone between two major ecological communities
Derived Forms
ecotonal, adjective
Word Origin
C20: from eco(logy) + -tone, from Greek tonos tension, tone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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ecotone in Science
A transitional zone between two ecological communities, as between a forest and grassland or a river and its estuary. An ecotone has its own characteristics in addition to sharing certain characteristics of the two communities. See also edge effect.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for ecotone

a transition area of vegetation between two different plant communities, such as forest and grassland. It has some of the characteristics of each bordering community and often contains species not found in the overlapping communities. An ecotone may exist along a broad belt or in a small pocket, such as a forest clearing, where two local communities blend together. The influence of the two bordering communities on each other is known as the edge effect. An ecotonal area often has a higher density of organisms of one species and a greater number of species than are found in either flanking community. Some organisms need a transitional area for activities such as courtship, nesting, or foraging for food.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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