Typical Ecotones in China

  • 1 Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Environmental Protection of China, Nanjing 210042, China;
    2 State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Regional Eco-process and Function Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES), Beijing100012, China

Received date: 2012-05-24

  Revised date: 2012-11-21

  Online published: 2012-12-29

Supported by

Specific Research on Public Service of Environmental Protection in China (No. 201109025, No. 200909021), and the National Special Commonweal Study on Environmental Protection of China (No. 201209027).


An ecotone is a transition area between two biomes or two different ecosystems and are often fragile, sensitive and variable. Since the 1970s, the study of the ecotone has increasingly gained notoriety as an important facet of ecological research. China, with a vast complex geology, climate and vegetation, is home to a variety of ecotones. This variety is witnessed in breeds, scales and sizes. This vast array has not only laid a solid foundation for scientific research but also enhanced China’s economic development, social development and cultural diversity conservation. According to the geographical distribution and ecological features of China’s large scale ecotone, “The trinity index system” has been established including land use types, natural climate characteristics and agricultural economic development to classify and define the spatial distribution of typical ecotones in China. Based on this classification, the natural environmental characteristics, environmental fragility and the existing problems of five kinds of typical ecotones have been studied. This study will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the evolutionary patterns of ecotones.

Cite this article

GAO Jixi, LV Shihai, ZHENG Zhirong, LIU Junhui . Typical Ecotones in China[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2012 , 3(4) : 297 -307 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2012.04.002


Clements F E. 1905. Research methods in ecology. Nebraska: University Publishing Company.

Di Casstri F, A J Hansen. 2992. The environment and development crises as determinants of landscape dynamics. In: Hansen A J, F D Castris (eds.). Landscape Boundaries. New York: Springer-Verlag, 3-18.

Feng W F, Pan S X, Zhan C Y, et al. 2006. The distributing rules and the change detection of coast-elements for Chinese coastland. Journal of Zhengzhou Institute of Surveying and Mapping, 23(5):370-377.

Hardt R A. 1989. Boundary from effects on woody colonization of reclaimed surface mine. Ecology, 70(5): 1252-1260.

Holland M M. 1988. SCOPE/MAB technical consultations on landscape boundaries: Report of a SCOPE/MAB workshop on ecotones. Biology International, 17 (Special Issue): 47-106.

Kevin L and V Thomas. 2006. Climatic variability and episodic Pinus ponderosa establishment along the forest-grassland ecotones of Colorado. Forest Ecology and Management, 228(1):98-107.

Lv S H. 2007. Study on Hulun Buir forest-steppe ecotone and its ecological environmental vulnerability evaluation. Beijing: Postdoctoral Report of Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

Odum E P. 1971(2nd ed.). Fundamentals of ecology. Pennsylvania: Saunders W B Company.

Odum E P. 1983. Basic Ecology. Philadelphia: Saunders college Publishing.

Risser P G. 1995. The status of the science examining ecotones. Bioscience, 45(5):318-325.

Tansley A G and T F Chipp. 1926. Aims and methods in the study of vegetation. London: British Empire Vegetation Committee.

Temuulen T S. 2005. 20th Century forest-grassland shift and effects of livestock herbivory. Montana: Montana State University Dissertation, USA.

Walter H. 1979(2nd ed.). Vegetation of the earth and ecological systems of the geo-biosphere. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Walter H. 1985(2nd ed.). Community and ecosystems. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.Inc., 167.

Wang Q S, Feng Z W, Luo J H. 2000. Study on biodiversity of forest-grassland ecotones in the north of Hei Bei and the east of Inner Mongolia. Plant Ecology, 24(2):141-146.

Wang Y. 1996. China marine geography. Beijing: Science Press.