The Structure of Tropical Rain Forest: Synusiae and Stratification

  • P. W. Richards
Part of the The Geographical Readings series book series (GR)


A complex plant community is analogous (though admittedly only superficially) to a human society. The members of a human community form social classes, all the members of a given class standing in a similar relationship to the members of other classes and having a similar function in the society as a whole. Each human community thus has a characteristic social structure determined by the nature and the relative importance of the classes which compose it. In a like fashion the species in the more complex plant communities form ecological classes or groups. In the community as a whole the species are of varied stature and varied life-form, but the members of the same ecological group are similar in life-form and in their relation to the environment. These ecological groups, the analogues of the human social classes, will here be called synusiae, a term originally introduced by Gams [1]. A synusia is thus a group of plants of similar life-form, filling the same niche and playing a similar role, in the community of which it forms a part. In the words of Saxton [2], who used the term in a slightly broader sense than Gams, it is an aggregation of species (or individuals) making similar demands on a similar habitat. The species of the same synusia, though often widely different taxonomically, are to a large extent ecologically equivalent.


Rain Forest Tree Seedling Tropical Rain Forest Tall Tree Tree Stratum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1971

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  • P. W. Richards

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