Aims Vegetation classification consistent with the Braun‐Blanquet approach is widely used in Europe for applied vegetation science, conservation planning and land management. During the long history of syntaxonomy, many concepts and names of vegetation units have been proposed, but there has been no single classification system integrating these units. Here we (1) present a comprehensive, hierarchical, syntaxonomic system of alliances, orders and classes of Braun‐Blanquet syntaxonomy for vascular plant, bryophyte and lichen, and algal communities of Europe; (2) briefly characterize in ecological and geographic terms accepted syntaxonomic concepts; (3) link available synonyms to these accepted concepts; and (4) provide a list of diagnostic species for all classes. Location European mainland, Greenland, Arctic archipelagos (including Iceland, Svalbard, Novaya Zemlya), Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, Caucasus, Cyprus. Methods We evaluated approximately 10 000 bibliographic sources to create a comprehensive list of previously proposed syntaxonomic units. These units were evaluated by experts for their floristic and ecological distinctness, clarity of geographic distribution and compliance with the nomenclature code. Accepted units were compiled into three systems of classes, orders and alliances (EuroVegChecklist, EVC) for communities dominated by vascular plants (EVC1), bryophytes and lichens (EVC2) and algae (EVC3). Results EVC1 includes 109 classes, 300 orders and 1108 alliances; EVC2 includes 27 classes, 53 orders and 137 alliances, and EVC3 includes 13 classes, 24 orders and 53 alliances. In total 13 448 taxa were assigned as indicator species to classes of EVC1, 2087 to classes of EVC2 and 368 to classes of EVC3. Accepted syntaxonomic concepts are summarized in a series of appendices, and detailed information on each is accessible through the software tool EuroVegBrowser. Conclusions This paper features the first comprehensive and critical account of European syntaxa and synthesizes more than 100 yr of classification effort by European phytosociologists. It aims to document and stabilize the concepts and nomenclature of syntaxa for practical uses, such as calibration of habitat classification used by the European Union, standardization of terminology for environmental assessment, management and conservation of nature areas, landscape planning and education. The presented classification systems provide a baseline for future development and revision of European syntaxonomy.
Plant traits-the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants-determine how plants respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, and influence ecosystem properties and their benefits and detriments to people. Plant trait data thus represent the basis for a vast area of research spanning from evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology, to biodiversity conservation, ecosystem and landscape management, restoration, biogeography and earth system modelling. Since its foundation in 2007, the TRY database of plant traits has grown continuously. It now provides unprecedented data coverage under an open access data policy and is the main plant trait database used by the research community worldwide. Increasingly, the TRY database also supports new frontiers of trait-based plant research, including the identification of data gaps and the subsequent mobilization or measurement of new data. To support this development, in this article we evaluate the extent of the trait data compiled in TRY and analyse emerging patterns of data coverage and representativeness. Best species coverage is achieved for categorical traits-almost complete coverage for 'plant growth form'. However, most traits relevant for ecology and vegetation modelling are characterized by continuous intraspecific variation and trait-environmental relationships. These traits have to be measured on individual plants in their respective environment. Despite unprecedented data coverage, we observe a humbling lack of completeness and representativeness of these continuous traits in many aspects.We, therefore, conclude that reducing data gaps and biases in the TRY database remains a key challenge and requires a coordinated approach to data mobilization and trait measurements. This can only be achieved in collaboration with other initiatives. Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) and DIVERSITAS, the TRY database (TRY-not an acronym, rather a statement of sentiment; https ://www.try-db.org; Kattge et al., 2011) was proposed with the explicit assignment to improve the availability and accessibility of plant trait data for ecology and earth system sciences. The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) offered to host the database and the different groups joined forces for this community-driven program. Two factors were key to the success of TRY: the support and trust of leaders in the field of functional plant ecology submitting large databases and the long-term funding by the Max Planck Society, the MPI-BGC and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, which has enabled the continuous development of the TRY database.
Abstract. Statistical measures of fidelity, i.e. the concentration of species occurrences in vegetation units, are reviewed and compared. The focus is on measures suitable for categorical data which are based on observed species frequencies within a vegetation unit compared with the frequencies expected under random distribution. Particular attention is paid to Bruelheide's u value. It is shown that its original form, based on binomial distribution, is an asymmetric measure of fidelity of a species to a vegetation unit which tends to assign comparatively high fidelity values to rare species. Here, a hypergeometric form of u is introduced which is a symmetric measure of the joint fidelity of species to a vegetation unit and vice versa. It is also shown that another form of the binomial u value may be defined which measures the asymmetric fidelity of a vegetation unit to a species. These u values are compared with phi coefficient, chi‐square, G statistic and Fisher's exact test. Contrary to the other measures, phi coefficient is independent of the number of relevés in the data set, and like the hypergeometric form of u and the chi‐square it is little affected by the relative size of the vegetation unit. It is therefore particularly useful when comparing species fidelity values among differently sized data sets and vegetation units. However, unlike the other measures it does not measure any statistical significance and may produce unreliable results for small vegetation units and small data sets. The above measures, all based on the comparison of observed/expected frequencies, are compared with the categorical form of the Dufrêne‐Legendre Indicator Value Index, an index strongly underweighting the fidelity of rare species. These fidelity measures are applied to a data set of 15 989 relevés of Czech herbaceous vegetation. In a small subset of this data set which simulates a phytosociological table, we demonstrate that traditional table analysis fails to determine diagnostic species of general validity in different habitats and large areas. On the other hand, we show that fidelity calculations used in conjunction with large data sets can replace expert knowledge in the determination of generally valid diagnostic species. Averaging positive fidelity values for all species within a vegetation unit is a useful approach to measure quality of delimination of the vegetation unit. We propose a new way of ordering species in synoptic species‐by‐relevé tables, using fidelity calculations.
Abstract. The program JUICE was designed as a Microsoft® WINDOWS® application for editing, classification and analysis of large phytosociological tables and databases. This software, with a current maximum capacity of 30 000 relevés in one table, includes many functions for easy manipulation of table and header data. Various options include classification using COCKTAIL and TWINSPAN methods, calculation of interspecific associations, fidelity measures, average Ellenberg indicator values, preparation of synoptic tables, automatic sorting of relevé tables, and export of table data into other applications (word processors, spreadsheet programs or mapping packages). JUICE is optimized for use in association with TURBOVEG which is the most widespread database program for storing phytosociological data in Europe.
Habitats vary considerably in the level of invasion (number or proportion of alien plant species they contain), which depends on local habitat properties, propagule pressure, and climate. To determine the invasibility (susceptibility to invasions) of different habitats, it is necessary to factor out the effects of any confounding variables such as propagule pressure and climate on the level of invasion. We used 20 468 vegetation plots from 32 habitats in the Czech Republic to compare the invasibility of different habitats. Using regression trees, the proportion of alien plants, including archaeophytes (prehistoric to medieval invaders) and neophytes (recent invaders), was related to variables representing habitat properties, propagule pressure, and climate. The propagule pressure was expressed as the proportion of surrounding urban and industrial or agricultural land, human population density, distance from a river, and history of human colonization in the region. Urban and industrial land use had a positive effect on the proportion of both archaeophytes and neophytes. Agricultural land use, higher population density, and longer history of human impact positively affected the proportion of archaeophytes. Disturbed human-made habitats with herbaceous vegetation were most invaded by both groups of aliens. Neophytes were also relatively common in disturbed woody vegetation, such as broad-leaved plantations, forest clearings, and riverine scrub. These habitats also had the highest proportion of aliens after removing the effect of propagule pressure and climate, indicating that they are not only the most invaded, but also most invasible. These habitats experience recurrent disturbances and are rich, at least temporarily, in available nutrients, which supports the hypothesis that fluctuating resources are the major cause of habitat invasibility. The least invaded habitats were mires and alpine-subalpine grasslands and scrub. After removing the effect of propagule pressure and climate, some habitats actually invaded at an intermediate level had very low proportions of aliens. This indicates that these habitats (e.g., dry, wet, and saline grasslands, base-rich fens, and broad-leaved deciduous woodlands) are resistant to invasion.
The factors that promote invasive behavior in introduced plant species occur across many scales of biological and ecological organization. Factors that act at relatively small scales, for example, the evolution of biological traits associated with invasiveness, scale up to shape species distributions among different climates and habitats, as well as other characteristics linked to invasion, such as attractiveness for cultivation (and by extension propagule pressure). To identify drivers of invasion it is therefore necessary to disentangle the contribution of multiple factors that are interdependent. To this end, we formulated a conceptual model describing the process of invasion of central European species into North America based on a sequence of "drivers." We then used confirmatory path analysis to test whether the conceptual model is supported by a statistical model inferred from a comprehensive database containing 466 species. The path analysis revealed that naturalization of central European plants in North America, in terms of the number of North American regions invaded, most strongly depends on residence time in the invaded range and the number of habitats occupied by species in their native range. In addition to the confirmatory path analysis, we identified the effects of various biological traits on several important drivers of the conceptualized invasion process. The data supported a model that included indirect effects of biological traits on invasion via their effect on the number of native range habitats occupied and cultivation in the native range. For example, persistent seed banks and longer flowering periods are positively correlated with number of native habitats, while a stress-tolerant life strategy is negatively correlated with native range cultivation. However, the importance of the biological traits is nearly an order of magnitude less than that of the larger scale drivers and highly dependent on the invasion stage (traits were associated only with native range drivers). This suggests that future research should explicitly link biological traits to the different stages of invasion, and that a failure to consider residence time or characteristics of the native range may seriously overestimate the role of biological traits, which, in turn, may result in spurious predictions of plant invasiveness.
Genomic DNA base composition (GC content) is predicted to significantly affect genome functioning and species ecology. Although several hypotheses have been put forward to address the biological impact of GC content variation in microbial and vertebrate organisms, the biological significance of GC content diversity in plants remains unclear because of a lack of sufficiently robust genomic data. Using flow cytometry, we report genomic GC contents for 239 species representing 70 of 78 monocot families and compare them with genomic characters, a suite of life history traits and climatic niche data using phylogeny-based statistics. GC content of monocots varied between 33.6% and 48.9%, with several groups exceeding the GC content known for any other vascular plant group, highlighting their unusual genome architecture and organization. GC content showed a quadratic relationship with genome size, with the decreases in GC content in larger genomes possibly being a consequence of the higher biochemical costs of GC base synthesis. Dramatic decreases in GC content were observed in species with holocentric chromosomes, whereas increased GC content was documented in species able to grow in seasonally cold and/or dry climates, possibly indicating an advantage of GC-rich DNA during cell freezing and desiccation. We also show that genomic adaptations associated with changing GC content might have played a significant role in the evolution of the Earth's contemporary biota, such as the rise of grass-dominated biomes during the mid-Tertiary. One of the major selective advantages of GC-rich DNA is hypothesized to be facilitating more complex gene regulation.plant genome | genome size evolution | Poaceae | phylogenetic regression | geographical stratification D eep insights into the genomic architecture of model plants are rapidly accumulating, especially because of advances being made in high-throughput next generation and third generation sequencing techniques (1). However, the genomic constitution of the vast majority of nonmodel plants still remains unknown (2), impeding our understanding of the relationship between particular genomic architectures and evolutionary fitness in various environments. One of the important qualitative aspects of genomic architecture is the genomic nucleotide composition, which is usually expressed as the proportion of guanine and cytosine bases in the DNA molecule (GC content). In prokaryotes, the GC content is a well-studied and widely used character in taxonomy (3), and numerous studies have shown both the impact of GC content on microbial ecology and the influence of the environment in shaping the DNA base composition of microbial communities (4-7). The DNA base composition is also frequently discussed in relation to the evolution of the isochore structure in humans and other homeothermic (warm-blooded) vertebrates (i.e., birds and mammals) (8-10). In contrast, considerably less attention has been paid to the biological relevance of genomic GC content variation in plants (11), with genomic GC co...
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