Plant succession and tree architecture: An attempt at reconciling two scales of analysis of vegetation dynamics
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Acta Biotheoretica 46 (1):1-22 (1998)
Plant succession is a phenomenon ascribed to vegetation dynamics at the scale of the plant community. The study of plant succession implies the analysis of the species involved and their relationships. Depending on the research done, the characteristics of trees have been studied according to either static, dimensional or partial approaches. We have revised the principal theories of succession, the methods of describing structure and development of tree and relationship established between tree species' attributes and their successional status. During studies of succession, we propose that the profile of plant species be completed by including the organizational attributes of their structure as well as their development dynamics. We suggest an approach to the architecture that gives a general overview of the mode of development, revealing, among other things, that a limited number of architectural models may be found in nature. We hypothesize that community dynamics, in succession, may to a certain degree arise from the dynamic nature of plant development. This line of reasoning is in accordance with the current school of thought on process structuralism.
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