eco·​tone ˈē-kə-ˌtōn How to pronounce ecotone (audio)
: a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities
ecotonal adjective

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Every modification of climate, every disturbance of the soil, every interference with the existing vegetation of an area, favours some species at the expense of others. As Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker observed in Flora Indica (1855), all ecological communities are subject to some kind of disturbance, ranging from the simple, yet significant, loss of a tree to a catastrophic wildfire. Each disturbance creates an opportunity for a new species to colonize or flourish within the ecosystem in a process known as "ecological succession." Scientists refer to the area of overlapping landscapes where the "foreign" species encounter each other and blend together as ecotones, an apparent allusion to the tension created when competing species come together (in Greek tonos means "tension").

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web And it’s an ecotone: a place where two biomes meet and mix. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 8 Nov. 2022 But the grill’s an important part of Landrace, the crucible for creating a Texas foodscape. Time for a new word: ecotone. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, 8 July 2021 The ecotone, that Venn diagram between the two worlds, is where Landrace gets interesting. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, 8 July 2021 The cave sits in a unique spot, an ecotone where grassland and coastal tropical forest meet. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ecotone.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


ec- + Greek tonos tension — more at tone entry 1

First Known Use

1904, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ecotone was in 1904


Dictionary Entries Near ecotone

Cite this Entry

“Ecotone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

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