Comparison of commonly used ecological scales with the Belgard Plant Ecomorph System

Keywords: ecological scales; environmental factors; habitats; heliomorphs; hygromorphs; trophomorphs; halomorphs; cenomorphs; ecomorphic analysis


There are several ecological scales developed both for phytoindication of ecological factors and plant ecomorphs. Among them, the scales of Ellenberg and Tsyganov are the most commonly used. L. G. Ramensky and P. S. Pogrebnyak had developed a phytoindication method; they also were founders of first ecological scale of plant species in relation to various environmental factors. One of first ecomorph systems was developed by Alexander Lyutsianovich Belgard. In 1947, Belgard presented a tabular ecomorph system in his doctoral dissertation, and later in monograph “Forest vegetation of the South-East of Ukraine”. In the system he used abbreviated Latin names applying terminology proposed in the late 19th century by Dekandol, Warmin and other authors. He considered ecomorphs as adaptations of plants to environmental conditions in forests of the steppe zone of Ukraine where forest cenoses are exposed to processes of steppization, prairification, swamping, salinization, and thus clarification of relationships between forest, meadow, steppe, marsh and weed plant species was essential. Therefore, development and introduction of cenomorph terms as “adaptation of plant species to phytocenosis as a whole” were an absolutely new contribution to the concept of ecomorph system. In environmental factor scales of Ellenberg and other authors, environment characteristics based on phytoindication were underlined; in the Belgard Plant Ecomorph System, ecomorphs reflect ability of plant species to grow within certain ranges of a given factor. These approaches are quite comparable, and ecomorphs of the Belgard system correspond to certain grades of the Ellenberg and Tsyganov scales. The Belgard ecomorph system has been applied in a number of fundamental and applied works on plant ecology and phytocenology. It is convenient for characterizing ecological features of plant species growing in the steppe zone with a wide range of environment factors such as lighting, humidity, and soil richness. Other authors have expanded and supplemented the Belgard Plant Ecomorph System based on its strategy. A number of ecomorphs was introduced; they reflect intermediate or extreme gradations of factors. A new cenomorph – silvomargoant – has been proposed by the authors of this paper.


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