Plant ecology

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The Plant Ecology is a branch of botany and ecology . It deals with all ecological aspects in relation to individual plants as well as the vegetation as a whole.

Modern conceptions divide the scientific branch of plant ecology into the following areas:

  • The autecology considered the effects of abiotic and biotic factors on the whole plant organism. Fields of work are, for example, the heat, water, nutrient and carbon balance of a plant. Autecological research is carried out both in the laboratory and, in many cases, through measurements in the field.

Stress physiology and autecology are sometimes referred to as the ecophysiology of plants and contrasted with vegetation ecology as a branch of plant ecology.

  • The vegetation science deals with the vegetation cover as such. As synecology, it considers the processes at the level of plant populations or communities, which is why plant sociology provides essential methodological bases. Further research contents of vegetation science include the historical development of vegetation units, the dynamic spatial and temporal behavior of populations ( succession theory ). In addition, applied aspects, for example for agriculture and forestry, are an essential branch of vegetation ecology.
  • As an integrating branch of plant ecology, ecosystem science is considered, which tries to research the interaction of individual organisms and vegetation with their biodiversity. Examples of this are the effects of the structure of vegetation such as the " aerodynamic roughness " of the surface of a forest or the influence of vegetation on the climate of an area. Other research aspects are soil acidification and forest damage, the effect of deciduous and coniferous forests on ecosystem processes or the effects of symbioses such as mycorrhiza or nodule bacteria .

The research contents of vegetation ecology and ecosystem science coincide in wide areas with those of geobotany .


  • Schulze, ED, Beck, E. and K. Müller-Hohenstein (2002): Plant ecology. 846 S. Spectrum Academic Publishing House. Heidelberg-Berlin. ISBN 3-8274-0987-X