, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 534-545

The climax concept

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Summary

Textbook definitions of climax reveal a severe rift in basic ecological assumptions. The monoclimax theory is not workable in all vegetation types. The polyclimax theory is limited because it does not recognize the geological time scale, and because its numerous terms lack precision. The prevailing climax may be critized, since a minor constituent of forest understory may become a leading dominant of the next generation. A definition of climax should avoid terms which denote “finality” in succession. Research should be concentrated on concepts which suggest universal application. The development, verification and acceptance of a unified ecological philosophy would provide the impetus required for a firm establishment of plant ecology as a world science.