Plant formation

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As plant or vegetation formation (the terms vegetation form , vegetation landscape or vegetation type are also synonymous ) z. B. “deciduous forest”, “grassland”, “desert” or “shrub steppe”; but also cultural landscapes such as “Heide” or “Macchia”. Plant formation is a generic term from biology (more precisely geobotany ) and geography (more precisely plant geography ). The term landscape type is also often used synonymously, although the focus here is less on vegetation .

A plant formation is therefore primarily the vegetation cover of a region according to similar shape and growth forms (e.g. forest, steppe or desert) , which can be defined as a unit with the plant communities that characterize it (e.g. deciduous trees) . In addition, the climate and other abiotic factors are used for delimitation on a global scale. So z. For example, the meadow tundra can be separated from the grass steppe , which can hardly be distinguished by their appearance alone.

The exact composition of the existing species is irrelevant for the formations! Unrelated forms of life (and communities) can also develop similar ( analogous ) appearances due to similar environmental conditions . For example, the species inventory in Indonesia's humid tropical climate is very different from that of the Amazon - nevertheless, a surprisingly similar-looking vegetation type has developed in these two separate regions: the tropical rainforest.

While the plant formations are used for an abstract, coarse breakdown on a large scale, the concept of plant communities is required for a more detailed breakdown , in which the species composition is decisive.

Science and application

Even completely different, unrelated species develop similar growth forms and life strategies ( convergence ) under the same living conditions .

The scientific diagnosis of the formation is mainly based on the position of the renewal buds ( life forms according to Raunkiær ), with the help of which one can classify which growth form (e.g. annual plant, dwarf shrub, tree) it is. Further subdivisions according to leaf shape, water storage, etc. are possible, as well as an investigation of the formative environmental factors climate, soil, relief, rock or water balance.

If a plant formation - or the potential natural formation - is arranged geozonally on the earth analogous to a climatic zone , one speaks of a vegetation zone .

See also


  • Martin Schaefer: Dictionary of Ecology, 4th edition. Spectrum, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-8274-0167-4

Individual evidence

  1. Homepage of geography students with the Julius-Maximilians-Universität zu Würzburg from 2002 with learning materials