Basis of Spatial Distribution (Phytogeography, "Arealkunde")

A consequence of dispersal of propagules across short distances is that as many potential growing sites as possible are occupied near the mother plant, whereas long-distance dispersal leads to spatial gain. The result of dispersal of propagules (active process) is permanent establishment in a site, the distribution (passive state) of plant species into new sites. A growing site which can be limited geographically is called an area, i.e. spatial distribution.

It is the aim of the science of spatial distribution of plants to describe the pattern of forms of areas as they are today, and in the past, and to explain them. The two main goals are: to recognise types and characteristic patterns of distribution (dispersal) and to describe their organisation (Meusel et al. 1965, 1978; Merxmiiller 1952, 1953, 1954) and to attempt to explain the development of patterns of distribution (Walter and Straka 1970). A comparative assessment of geographical areas leads to characterisation of floristic elements and area types and to a hierarchical and spatial classification based on the scientific understanding. Thus studies of areas are the basis of any further understanding of vegetation distribution.

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