Symposium Topic
Understanding broad-scale vegetation patterns

During the last two decades considerable progress has been made in revealing and understanding patterns in multi-species plant assemblages over large areas and long time periods. The newly established field of macroecology is routinely using data collected by vegetation scientists and, in turn, its results are contributing significantly to the development of vegetation science. Recent progress in broad-scale vegetation ecology is supported by the increasing availability of extensive databases of vegetation plots, plant distribution records, plant trait data, data on vegetation history, and the molecular background of phylogeography and phylogeny. This progress is reflected in both basic and applied vegetation research and related methodological issues. Vegetation scientists focusing on a number of research questions or working with certain types of data are, however, often unaware of the large potential of the data and methods used in related fields. The purpose of this symposium is to increase awareness of the concepts, methods, data and results used and produced in various sub-disciplines of current broad-scale vegetation research, and to promote synergy by bringing together research efforts that have been disparate to date.

  • Patterns and drivers of alpha and beta diversity in plant communities: an old, but still insufficiently understood topic
  • Plant community assembly: niche-based vs. neutral processes and the role of species pools
  • Plant traits: towards an understanding of the functional diversity of plant communities
  • Phylogenetic community structure: merging vegetation ecology with phylogenetic research
  • Vegetation survey: towards the broad-scale synthesis of local vegetation classifications
  • Large time scales: past vegetation change, effects of historical processes on current vegetation and modern analogues of past ecosystems
  • Patterns of vegetation change across landscapes: which drivers are important in which contexts?
  • Community invasibility: plant invasions as broad-scale biogeographical experiments
  • Data sources for broad-scale vegetation studies: can we use composite sets of data originally sampled for other purposes on fine scales?
  • Vegetation in macroecological modelling: what insights can be obtained from models if broad-scale experiments are not feasible?
  • Vegetation science serving nature conservation