, Volume 121, Issue 1-2, pp 101-116

Factors determining distributions of tree species and plant functional types

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Plant functional types have been identified by the International Geosphere Biosphere Program as functionally similar basic plant types, especially trees, as needed for global ecological modeling. Based to some extent on an earlier set of pheno-physiognomically defined plant types, a Global Biome Model was produced but has not satisfied all the desired functional criteria posed by IGBP physiologists and modelers. This paper asks two questions: what are the main environmental factors which limit terrestrial plant types, especially tree types; and how many types of potential vegetation are needed to cover the world's terrestrial vegetation patterns? Based on the main environmental factors recognized, a model of world potential dominant vegetation types was produced and used to estimate the minimal number of vegetation types needed. The resulting set of 40 potential dominant vegetation types may serve as an initial basis for a structural-functionally based set of world plant functional types.