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Vegetation of the rock outcrops and screes in the forest-steppe and steppe belts of the Altai and Western Sayan Mts., southern Siberia

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A new concept of classification of petrophytic vegetation, i.e. plant communities on rock outcrops and screes, is proposed for the steppe and forest-steppe belts of the southern Siberian mountains, using the Braun-Blanquet approach and original relevés from the Altai and Western Sayan Mts. In these areas with arid continental climate, the species composition of petrophytic vegetation seems to be less differentiated from the other habitats than is usual in Europe or the Far East. The main habitats of petrophytic vegetation include rock crevices, shallow soils on weathered rock outcrops, disturbed screes with herbaceous vegetation, and shrubberies in less disturbed places. In the proposed classification petrophytic vegetation is divided into three phytosociological classes. The vegetation of moderately dry rock crevices is included in the Eurasian class Asplenietea trichomanis (Br.-Bl. in Meier et Br.-Bl. 1934) Oberdorfer 1977 and the alliance Selaginellion sanguinolentae Hilbig 2000. Vegetation of disturbed or strongly drought-stressed rock outcrops and screes is included in the class of central Asian steppes, Cleistogenetea squarrosae Mirkin et al. ex Korotkov et al. 1991. Within this class, vegetation with predominance of succulent plants is assigned to the alliance Sedion hybridi all. nova and xeric rock-crevice vegetation to the alliance Eritrichio pectinati-Selaginellion sanguinolentae all. nova. A distinct type of central Asian petrophytic vegetation is assigned to the class Artemisio santolinifoliae-Berberidetea sibiricae cl. nova, which includes xeric shrubberies on mobile screes and rock outcrops of different lithology. Seven associations, three subassociations and four communities without syntaxonomic rank are documented in an ordered species-by-relevé table and briefly described with respect to their phytosociological affinities and ecology. The DCA ordination of the relevés was used to demonstrate patterns of floristic differentiation of the higher vegetation units in the Altai and Western Sayan.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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  • Phytocoenologia (ISSN 0340-269X) is an international, peer-reviewed journal of plant community ecology. It is devoted to vegetation survey and classification at any organizational and spatial scale and without restriction to certain methodological approaches. The journal publishes original papers that develop new vegetation typologies as well as applied studies that use such typologies, for example, in vegetation mapping, ecosystem modelling, nature conservation, land use management or monitoring. Particularly encouraged are methodological studies that design and compare tools for vegetation classification and mapping, such as algorithms, databases and nomenclatural principles. Papers dealing with conceptual and theoretical bases of vegetation survey and classification are also welcome. While large-scale studies are preferred, regional studies will be considered when filling important knowledge gaps or presenting new methods.

    Phytocoenologia was founded by Reinhold Tüxen in 1973 and is published in collaboration with the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS; The journal closely cooperates with various subgroups of IAVS and serves as publication outlet for their workshops as well as for selected sessions of the IAVS Symposia. It contains special sections on “Phytosociological Nomenclature” and “Ecoinformatics”. Guest-edited Special Features that fall within the scope of the journal are also published.

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