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Trends Ecol Evol. 1997 Dec;12(12):474-8.

Plant functional classifications: from general groups to specific groups based on response to disturbance.

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  • 1Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS, UPR 9056, 34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France.


Predicting the effects of anthropogenic changes in climate, atmospheric composition and land use on vegetation patterns has been a central concern of recent ecological research. This aim has revived the search for classification schemes that can be to group plant species according to their response to specified environmental factors. One way forward is to adopt a hierarchical classification, where different sets of traits are examined depending on growth form. Also, at the level of interpretation, the environmental context and purpose of functional classifications need to be specified explicitly, so that global generalizations can be made by comparing across environments functional classifications derived from similar methodologies.

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