Plant Ecology

, Volume 219, Issue 5, pp 481–496 | Cite as

Quantified ecology and co-occurrence of Mediterranean woody species in a landscape context

  • Florian Goedecke
  • Ralf Jahn
  • Erwin Bergmeier


Understanding co-occurrence and ecological affinities of plant species is essential in vegetation and landscape ecology. In a case study, we analysed distribution records with high data density of all commonly occurring tree and shrub species of Crete (Greece) with offshore islands. We present the ecological range of widespread and more range-restricted species in the Mediterranean area, visualising their affinities for macroclimate, topoclimate and geology by means of an ecological heatmap. Complete linkage classification of combined ecological spectra revealed groups of generalist species with broad ecological amplitude, groups related to zonal vegetation and chiefly dependent on elevation, and species of azonal vegetation grouped mainly by topography and substrates. Species and ecological groups with high affinity may be indicative of (a combination of) site features. Our re-evaluation of plant distribution records links plant geographical and ecological information, and thereby complements expert habitat and species assessments. Our case study provides deeper understanding of ecological patterns, and at the same time allows for comparison and extrapolation to other biomes.


Ecological heatmap Geospatial data Heatload Location-based geodata extraction Realised niche Topographical wetness index 



EB and FG were supported by the Greek Ministry of Environment and the European Commission in the Natura 2000 mapping and monitoring project, thanks to all contributing authorities and co-workers. RJ was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG: Scho 2-1, 2-2). Ktimatologio SA gave permission to use their satellite-image service. Prof. W. Greuter (Berlin) generously contributed distribution data of his working group (1981-1987), funded by DFG (Gr 676/3-1). Locations of mountain species were delivered by B. Egli (Schaffhausen, Switzerland) and L. Fazan (Fribourg, Switzerland). Processing of geological data was supported by C. Manthey (Bochum, Germany), C. Kalaitzidis (Chania, Greece) and Prof. U. Kull (Stuttgart, Germany). P. Mahdavi, I. Schmiedel and L. Sutcliffe (all Goettingen, Germany) commented on an earlier manuscript version. The critical comments and suggestions of the editor P. le Roux and three unknown referees helped us to improve the final version of the manuscript significantly.

Supplementary material

11258_2018_810_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (757 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 757 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Vegetation- and Phytodiversity AnalysisAlbrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant Science, University of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.GroßschirmaGermany

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