Greek oikos (οϊκος); house, household (ecosystem),
-tope Greek topos;
are the smallest ecologically-distinct landscape features in a landscape mapping
& classification system.
Ecotopes are relatively homogeneous, spatially-explicit landscape units that are
useful for stratifying landscapes into ecologically distinct features for the measurement
and mapping of landscape structure,
function and change.
Like ecosystems, ecotopes are identified using criteria that depend on
the specific application involved. In the case of ecotopes these are criteria
defined within a specific ecological mapping and classification system (e.g.
Just as ecosystems are defined by the interaction of biotic and abiotic
components, ecotope classification should stratify landscapes based on a combination
of both biotic and abiotic factors, including vegetation, soils, hydrology and other
Other parameters that must be considered in ecotope classification and
mapping include their period of stability (such as the number of years that a feature
might persist), their spatial scale (minimum mapping unit), and the strategy by
which they are distinguished as separate features within the landscape.
Our definition of ecotopes is based on the
anthropogenic ecotope mapping & classification system (AEM), which is designed
to measure ecological pattern, process, and change across
anthropogenic landscapes. By our definition, ecotopes are ecologically
distinct features that are potentially stable over ≥2 years and are consistently
and repeatably identifiable by both ecologists and land managers in the field and
in ≤1 m resolution imagery (Ellis
et al., 2006).
: First definition of ecotope
"the particular portion,..., of the physical world that forms a home (οϊκος
for the organisms which inhabit it".
: Troll first applied the term ecotope
to landscape ecology in 1945 as: "the smallest spatial object or component
of a geographical landscape".
Schmithüsen (1948): Discussed the ecotope concept
in the German landscape science literature prior to Troll's usage, as part of
his discussion of a "tile structure of landscapes", with ecotopes essentially
serving as the tiles within the landscape tile structure (mosaic).
(1989): "... an ecologically homogeneous tract of land at
the scale level being considered."
"...an ecotope is a concrete ecosystem at a given and defined site."
Klijn and de Haes (1994): "... the smallest ecological
land unit relevant in landscape ecology, with relative homogeneity regarding vegetation
(1995): "...smallest homogeneous mappable unit of land."
"... hierarchical functional classification of the landscape."
"The smallest landscape unitary multidimensional element that has all the structural
and functional characters of the concerned landscape."
Bastian et al. (2003): "... the landscape sphere and
its related systems of landscape complexes (ecosystems)".
This source provides a thorough review of the ecotope concept.
Encyclopedia of Earth
ecotope at Encyclopedia
ecotope at wikipedia.com
The term "ecotope" has also been defined for other purposes in ecology:
Whittaker et al (1973): "The species relation to the full range of
environmental and biotic variables affecting it."
Bastian, O., C. Beierkuhlein, H. J. Klink, J. Löfffler, U. Steinhardt, M. Volk,
and M. Wilmking. 2003. Landscape structures and processes. Pages 49-112
in O. Bastian and U. Steinhardt, eds. Development and Perspectives of Landscape
Ecology. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Ellis, E. C.,
H. Wang, H. Xiao, K. Peng, X. P. Liu, S. C. Li, H. Ouyang, X. Cheng, and L. Z. Yang.
2006. Measuring long-term ecological changes in
densely populated landscapes using current and historical high resolution imagery.
Remote Sensing of Environment 100(4):457-473. [download]
Farina, A. 1998. Principles and
Methods in Landscape Ecology. Chapman & Hall, London; New York.
Forman, R.T.T. 1995. Land Mosaics:
The Ecology of Landscapes and Regions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Haber, W. 1994. System ecological
concepts for environmental planning. Pages 49-67 in F. Klijn, ed. Ecosystem Classification
for Environmental Management. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Ingegnoli, V. 2002. Landscape Ecology
- a Widening Foundation: A Holistic Unifying Approach. Springer, Berlin; New York.
Klijn, F., and H.
A. Udo De Haes. 1994. A hierarchical approach to ecosystems and its implications
for ecological land classification. Landscape Ecology 9: 89-104.
Schmithüsen, J. 1948.
"Fliesengefüge der Landschaft" und "Ökotop": Vorschläge zur
begrifflichen Ordnung und zur Nomenklatur in der Landschaftsforschung. Berichte zur Deutschen Landeskunde
(Bad Godesberg) 5: 74-83.
Tansley, A. G. 1939. The British
Isles and Their Vegetation. Vol. 1 of 2. Cambridge, United Kingdom. 494 pp.
Troll, C. 1950. Die geografische
landschaft und ihre erforschung. Pages 163-181. Studium Generale 3. Springer, Heidelberg,
German Democratic Republic.
R. H., S. A. Levin, and R. B. Root. 1973. Niche, habitat, and ecotope. American
Naturalist 107: 321-338.
Zonneveld, I. S. 1989. The
land unit - A fundamental concept in landscape ecology, and its applications. Landscape
Ecology 3: 67-86.