, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 7–19

Vegetation dynamics: patterns in time and space

  • Eddy van der Maarel

DOI: 10.1007/BF00045745

Cite this article as:
van der Maarel, E. Vegetatio (1988) 77: 7. doi:10.1007/BF00045745


This paper introduces the collection of contributions in this special volume on temporal and spatial patterns of vegetation dynamics. First, it is pointed out that the dynamics of any piece of vegetation, large or small, is always dependent on the degree of isolation of that piece towards its environment. Then ten types of island situation are treated ranging from very much to very little isolated: remote species-rich oceanic islands, remote species-poor islands, young big islands near a continent, small off-shore islands, emerging islands, isolated hills, landscape islands, isolated patches of vegetation, and gaps in stands of vegetation.

Also, eight forms of vegetation dynamics are treated, ranging from short-term to long-term changes and involving larger and larger units: individuals, patches, communities, landscapes and vegetation regions. The forms of dynamics are fluctuation, gap dynamics, patch dynamics, cyclic succession, regeneration succession, secondary succession, primary succession, and secular succession. Each form of dynamics may occur under varying degrees of isolation.

The general conclusion is that processes and patterns of vegetation dynamics cannot be generalized in any simple manner. The 20 papers collected in this volume, divergent as they are, express the complexity of vegetation dynamics.


FluctuationGap dynamicsIslandIsolationPatch dynamicsPrimary successionRegeneration successionSecondary successionSecular succession

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eddy van der Maarel
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ecological BotanyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden