Geographic features are naturally-created features of the Earth. Natural geographical features consist of landforms and ecosystems. For example, terrain types (physical factors of the environment) are natural geographical features. Conversely, human settlements or other engineered forms are considered types of artificial geographical features.
Natural geographical features
There are two different terms to describe habitats: ecosystem and biome. An ecosystem is a community of organisms. In contrast, biomes occupy large areas of the globe and often encompass many different kinds of geographical features, including mountain ranges.
Biotic diversity within an ecosystem is the variability among living organisms from all sources, including inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems. 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.
Biomes represent large areas of ecologically similar communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms. 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 oceans, seas, and lakes, but it may also include smaller pools of water such as ponds, creeks 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 they are included as geographical formations featuring water.
Artificial geographical features
A settlement is a permanent or temporary community in which people live. Settlements range in components from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. Other landscape features such as roads, enclosures, field systems, boundary banks and ditches, ponds, parks and woods, mills, manor houses, moats, and churches may be considered part of a settlement.
Cartographic features are types of abstract geographical features, which appear on maps but not on the planet itself, even though they are located on the planet. For example, latitudes, longitudes, the Equator, and the Prime Meridian are shown on maps of the Earth, but it do not physically exist. It is a theoretical line used for reference, navigation, and measurement.
In geographic information standardization
- a feature is defined as an "abstraction of real world phenomena";
- a geographic feature is a "representation of real world phenomenon associated with a location relative to the Earth";
- a simple feature is a "feature restricted to 2D geometry with linear interpolation between vertices, having both spatial and non spatial attributes";
- a complex feature is a "feature composed of other features".
- Odum, Eugene P.; Odum, Howard T. (1971). Fundamentals of Ecology (3rd ed.). Saunders.
- Botkin, Daniel B.; Keller, Edward A. (1995). Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Canada.
- "Convention Text — Article 2. Use of Terms". www.CBD.int. Convention on Biological Diversity. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Basak, Anindita (2009). Environmental Studies. Dorling Kindersley. p. 288. ISBN 978-81-317-2118-6. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "MSRG Policy Statement". Medieval-Settlement.com. Medieval Settlement Research Group. 2014-05-11. Retrieved 13 September 2015.