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Geographical features are features of the Earth that may be created naturally or artificially (man made).
Natural geographical features consist of landforms and ecosystems. For example, terrain types, bodies of water, natural units (consisting of all plants, animals and microorganisms in an area functioning together with all of the nonliving physical factors of the environment) are natural geographical features. Conversely, human settlements or other engineered constructs are considered types of artificial geographical features.
Natural geographical features
There are many terms for describing "habitat" types in ecology. Ecosystems and biomes may or may not be geographical features, depending on how easily discernible their boundaries are and their overall size. Ecosystems may vary in size from a log to a forest, covering many square kilometres. A wetland or a bog is an ecosystem that often has a clearly defined boundary and therefore, may be considered to be a geographical feature. In contrast, biomes occupy large areas of the globe and often encompass many different kinds of geographical features, including mountain ranges.
Conceptual definition of the ecosystem, from Odum: "Any unit that includes all of the organisms (the "community") in a given area the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (i.e.: exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts) within the system is an ecosystem." Living organisms are continually engaged in a set of relationships with every other element constituting the environment in which they exist, and "ecosystem" describes any situation where there is relationship between organisms and their environment.
Conceptual definition of the ecosystem, from Botkin and Keller: A biome is a kind of ecosystem, such as a desert, a tropical rain forest, or a grassland. They are classified according to the predominant vegetation and characterized by adaptations of organisms to that particular environment. It is a geographically defined area of ecologically similar communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, often referred to as ecosystems. Biomes are defined based on factors such as plant structures (such as trees, shrubs, and grasses), leaf types (such as broadleaf and needleleaf), plant spacing (forest, woodland, savanna), and climate. Unlike ecozones, biomes are not defined by genetic, taxonomic, or historical similarities. Biomes are often identified with particular patterns of ecological succession and climax vegetation.
A landform comprises a geomorphological unit, and is largely defined by its surface form and location in the landscape, as part of the terrain, and as such is typically an element of topography. Landforms are categorized by features such as elevation, slope, orientation, stratification, rock exposure, and soil type. They include berms, mounds, hills, cliffs, valleys, rivers and numerous other elements. Oceans and continents are the highest-order landforms.
A body of water is any significant accumulation of water, usually covering the Earth. The term body of water most often refers to large accumulations of water, such as oceans, seas, and lakes, but it may also include smaller pools of water such as ponds, puddles or wetlands. rivers, streams, canals, and other geographical features where water moves from one place to another are not always considered bodies of water, but are included here as geographical formations featuring water.
Artificial geographical features
A settlement is a permanent or temporary community in which people live. Settlements range in size from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. The Medieval Settlement Research Group (a British organisation) includes as part of a settlement, associated features such as roads, enclosures, field systems, boundary banks and ditches, ponds, parks and woods, mills, manor houses, moats and churches.
Engineered geographic features include highways, bridges, airports, railroads, buildings, dams and reservoirs and are part of the anthroposphere because they are man-made, artificial geographic features.
Cartographic features are a type of abstract geographical feature – they appear on maps but not on the planet itself, even though they are located on the planet. For example, the Equator is shown on maps, but it does not physically exist on Earth; it is a theoretical line used for reference, navigation, and measurement.
- Odum EP (1234534971) of ecology, third edition Saunders New York
- Botkin, D. and E. Keller. 1995. Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Canada.