Applicability of Functional Groups Concept in Analysis of Spatiotemporal Vegetation Changes on Manmade Habitats
Gabriela Woźniak1, Damian Chmura2, Agnieszka Błońska1, Barbara Tokarska-Guzik3, Edyta Sierka1
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1Department of Geobotany and Nature Protection, University of Silesia, Jagiellońska 28, 40-032 Katowice, Poland
2Institute of Engineering and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Materials and Environmental Sciences,
Universty of Bielsko-Biała, Willowa 2, 43-309 Bielsko-Biała, Poland
3Department of Plant Systematics, University of Silesia, Jagiellońska 28, 40-032 Katowice, Poland
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2011;20(3):623–631
The immense variety in plant diversity at the species level might explain why it is so difficult to establish strict generalizations in vegetation dynamics. In the last two decades many published research reports have shown that the introduction of the concept of plant functional groups (PEG) into the analysis of vegetation dynamics might be more informative in explaining spatiotemporal changes of vegetation than analysis based only on species composition.
The spontaneous vegetation development observed on post-industrial manmade habitats (coal-mine heaps in the Silesian Upland, southern Poland), which are different in age provide an excellent opportunity to study the changes of participation of species representing the analyzed PFG. In this study a vast range of life history features were taken into account in order to find which of them are the most explicable (not redundant) in terms of changes in species composition in time during vegetation development. The study showed that during vegetation development in manmade habitats some features undergo variation over time and their importance depends on the developmental phase of succession/colonization processes. The results revealed that the most explanatory PFG’s are plant height, leaf shape and area, root system, seed weight, and photosynthetic pathway. It is impossible to recommend one closed set of species feature categories to provide the best explanation of spatiotemporal changes of vegetation on manmade habitats during all developmental stages, because the significance of a different plant’s features varies in the following phases of vegetation development.