This dataset was prepared by IUCN as a contribution to the UNESCO MAB Programme.
The main purpose of the work was to devise a satisfactory classification of the world's biotic areas for purposes of conservation. It is the fourth attempt in
a series of revisions, updating the previous three works written by Dasmann.
The logic behind the system was that the plant and animal world occurs within
the biosphere of the Earth in the form of an intertwined network of individuals,
populations and interacting systems. To be able to view them in a systematic way,
the biologist may use the following approaches:
Taxonomic order, Ecological order, Phylogenetic order (origins and history).
Biogeographic order - grouping the above entities on a geographic basis.
To define geographic units for conservation purposes the following were considered:
(a) the distribution of species and (b) the distribution of ecosystem units. The
result was a system serving both aims, a hierarchical system of geographical areas
which would give a framework for conserving species as well as ecologic areas.
These hierarchical Biogeographical entities were named Realms, Biomes and Provinces.
The first subdivision, the Realm, used the phylogenetic subdivisions of the world,
unifying those for flora and fauna. It is a continent or sub-continent-sized area
with unifying features of geography and flora/fauna/vegetation. Eight Realms were
distinguished. The second division is the Biome. These were not the same as the
major vegetation formations of the world (see UNESCO, 1973), but combine the
features of a major vegetation type with climate. There are 14 of these. These
were largely based on the work of Dasmann. The third, most detailed, subdivision
was the Province, delimited on a faunal, floral and ecological basis. There are
186 of these.
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