Competition or coexistence? View of the almost completely closed canopy of a mountain rainforest on Kilimanjaro (Machame, 2400 m above sea level). Photo K. Muller-Hohenstein
Previous chapters discussed aspects of plants and development of plant communities in the course of time, and their distribution in space. This knowledge is indispensable for understanding plants and their spatial dynamics. The most important relations between plants and their environment are the requirements of individual species and the supply of abiotic factors - light, temperature, water, nutrients - which have been well studied (see Chap. 2).
Plants and plant communities also affect their environment, changing the climatic conditions and soils and thus contribute to temporal dynamics and spatial changes (see Chap, 4.1). How this change takes place and its intensity will be discussed here (Chap. 4.3.1) and illustrated with examples.
For the formation of plant communities, interactions between plant species, plant populations and within communities are just as important as the interactions between plants and their abiotic environment. Their niches in communities (biocenoses) are determined by competition and coexistence, mutual relations are just as important as parasites and pathogens (Chap. 4.3.2).
Plant communities (phytocenoses) are only part of the whole community. Animals also influence the coexistence of organisms and affect plant communities discussed here; they work as pollinators and dispersers (see Chap, 4.2) and are also herbivores and consume seeds. Thus, the basis of biocenotics is the interaction between plants and animals, and this is the topic considered in Chapter 4.3.3.
For the synecological section, the following literature is recommended in addition to that previously mentioned in Chapters 4.1 and 4.2:
• Crawley MJ (1983) Herbivory: the dynamics of animal-plant interactions. Blackwell, Oxford
• Douglas AE (1994) Symbiotic interactions. Oxford Univ Press, Oxford
• Heywood VH, Watson RT (eds) (1995) Global diversity assessment. UNEP, Cambridge
Huston MA (1994) Biological diversity. The coexistence of species on changing landscapes. Cambridge Univ Press, Cambridge Pielou EC (1974) Population and community ecology. Principles and methods. Gordon and Breach, New York
Putman RJ (1994) Community ecology. Chapman & Hall, London
Schulze ED, Mooney HA (eds) (1993) Biodiversity and ecosystem function. Ecol Stud 99, Springer, Berlin
Tilman D (1982) Resource competition and community structure. Princeton Univ Press, Princeton
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