This map depicts the 825 terrestrial ecoregions of the globe.
Ecoregions are relatively large units of land containing distinct
assemblages of natural communities and species, with boundaries that
approximate the original extent of natural communities prior to major
land-use change. This comprehensive, global map provides a useful
framework for conducting biogeographical or macroecological research,
for identifying areas of outstanding biodiversity and conservation
priority, for assessing the representation and gaps in conservation
efforts worldwide, and for communicating the global distribution of
natural communities on earth. We have based ecoregion delineations on
hundreds of previous biogeographical studies, and refined and
synthesized existing information in regional workshops over 10 years to
assemble the global dataset. Ecoregions are nested within two
higher-order classifications: biomes (14) and biogeographic realms (8).
Together, these nested classification levels provide a framework for
comparison among units and the identification of representative habitats
and species assemblages. Ecoregions have increasingly been adopted by
research scientists, conservation organizations, and donors as a
framework for analyzing biodiversity patterns, assessing conservation
priorities, and directing effort and support (Ricketts et al. 1999a;
Wikramanayake et al. 2001; Ricketts et al. 1999b; Olson & Dinerstein
1998; Groves et al. 2000; Rosenzweig et al. 2003; and Luck et al. 2003).
More on the approach to ecoregion mapping, the logic and design of the
framework, and previous and potential uses are discusses in Olson et al.
(2001) and Ricketts et al. (1999a).