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Ecologists use the term boundary to refer to a wide range of real and conceptual structures. Because imprecise terminology may impede the search for general patterns and theories about ecological boundaries, we present a classification of the attributes of ecological boundaries to aid in communication and theory development. Ecological boundaries may differ in their origin and maintenance, their spatial structure, their function, and their temporal dynamics. A classification system based on these attributes should help ecologists determine whether boundaries are truly comparable. This system can be applied when comparing empirical studies, comparing theories, and testing theoretical predictions against empirical results.