A comparative framework for broad-scale plot-based vegetation classification

Miquel De Cáceres, Milan Chytrý, Emiliano Agrillo, Fabio Attorre, Zoltán Botta-Dukát, Jorge Capelo, Bálint Czúcz, Jürgen Dengler, Jörg Ewald, Don Faber-Langendoen, Enrico Feoli, Scott B. Franklin, Rosario Gavilán, François Gillet, Florian Jansen, Borja Jiménez-Alfaro, Pavel Krestov, Flavia Landucci, Attila Lengyel, Javier LoidiLadislav Mucina, Robert K. Peet, David W. Roberts, Jan Roleček, Joop H.J. Schaminée, Sebastian Schmidtlein, Jean Paul Theurillat, Lubomír Tichý, Donald A. Walker, Otto Wildi, Wolfgang Willner, Susan K. Wiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Classification of vegetation is an essential tool to describe, understand, predict and manage biodiversity. Given the multiplicity of approaches to classify vegetation, it is important to develop international consensus around a set of general guidelines and purpose-specific standard protocols. Before these goals can be achieved, however, it is necessary to identify and understand the different choices that are made during the process of classifying vegetation. This paper presents a framework to facilitate comparisons between broad-scale plot-based classification approaches. Results: Our framework is based on the distinction of four structural elements (plot record, vegetation type, consistent classification section and classification system) and two procedural elements (classification protocol and classification approach). For each element we describe essential properties that can be used for comparisons. We also review alternative choices regarding critical decisions of classification approaches; with a special focus on the procedures used to define vegetation types from plot records. We illustrate our comparative framework by applying it to different broad-scale classification approaches. Conclusions: Our framework will be useful for understanding and comparing plot-based vegetation classification approaches, as well as for integrating classification systems and their sections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-560
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Vegetation Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Assignment rule
  • Braun-Blanquet approach
  • Classification system
  • Consistent classification section
  • EcoVeg approach
  • Phytosociology
  • Vegetation continuum
  • Vegetation type
  • Vegetation-plot database

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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  • Cite this

    De Cáceres, M., Chytrý, M., Agrillo, E., Attorre, F., Botta-Dukát, Z., Capelo, J., Czúcz, B., Dengler, J., Ewald, J., Faber-Langendoen, D., Feoli, E., Franklin, S. B., Gavilán, R., Gillet, F., Jansen, F., Jiménez-Alfaro, B., Krestov, P., Landucci, F., Lengyel, A., ... Wiser, S. K. (2015). A comparative framework for broad-scale plot-based vegetation classification. Applied Vegetation Science, 18(4), 543-560. https://doi.org/10.1111/avsc.12179