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.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica 2002