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On the delineation of tropical vegetation types with an emphasis on forest/savanna transitions


Torello-Raventos, M and Feldpausch, TR and Veenendaal, E and Schrodt, F and Saiz, G and Domingues, TF and Djagbletey, G and Ford, A and Kemp, J and Marimon, BS and Hur Marimon Junior, B and Lenza, E and Ratter, JA and Maracahipes, L and Sasaki, D and Sonke, B and Zapfack, L and Taedoumg, H and Villarroel, D and Schwarz, M and Quesada, CA and Ishida, FY and Nardoto, GB and Affum-Baffoe, K and Arroyo, L and Bowman, DMJS and Compaore, H and Davies, K and Diallo, A and Fyllas, NM and Gilpin, M and Hien, F and Johnson, M and Killeen, TJ and Metcalfe, D and Miranda, HS and Steininger, M and Thomson, J and Sykora, K and Mougin, E and Hiernaux, P and Bird, MI and Grace, J and Lewis, SL and Phillips, OL and Lloyd, J, On the delineation of tropical vegetation types with an emphasis on forest/savanna transitions, Plant Ecology and Diversity, 6, (1) pp. 101-137. ISSN 1755-0874 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Botanical Society of Scotland and Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/17550874.2012.762812


Background: There is no generally agreed classification scheme for the many different vegetation formation types occurring in the tropics. This hinders cross-continental comparisons and causes confusion as words such as ‘forest’ and ‘savanna’ have different meanings to different people. Tropical vegetation formations are therefore usually imprecisely and/or ambiguously defined in modelling, remote sensing and ecological studies.

Aims: To integrate observed variations in tropical vegetation structure and floristic composition into a single classification scheme.

Methods: Using structural and floristic measurements made on three continents, discrete tropical vegetation groupings were defined on the basis of overstorey and understorey structure and species compositions by using clustering techniques.

Results: Twelve structural groupings were identified based on height and canopy cover of the dominant upper stratum and the extent of lower-strata woody shrub cover and grass cover. Structural classifications did not, however, always agree with those based on floristic composition, especially for plots located in the forest–savanna transition zone. This duality is incorporated into a new tropical vegetation classification scheme.

Conclusions: Both floristics and stand structure are important criteria for the meaningful delineation of tropical vegetation formations, especially in the forest/savanna transition zone. A new tropical vegetation classification scheme incorporating this information has been developed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:canopy cover, cluster analysis forest, savanna, tropics, vegetation categorisation
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:89380
Year Published:2013
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP0878177)
Web of Science® Times Cited:87
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2014-03-04
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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