Biodiv Sci ›› 2009, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (6): 533-548.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09253

Special Issue: 群落中的物种多样性:格局与机制

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Methods and protocols for plant community inventory

Jingyun Fang1,*(), Xiangping Wang1,2, Zehao Shen1, Zhiyao Tang1, Jinsheng He1, Dan Yu3, Yuan Jiang4, Zhiheng Wang1, Chengyang Zheng1, Jiangling Zhu1, Zhaodi Guo1   

  1. 1 Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Center for Ecological Research & Education, and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 Laboratory for Silviculture and Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
    3 College of Life Sciences, and National Field Station for Lake Ecosystem in Liangzi Lake, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072
    4 College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875
  • Received:2009-10-29 Accepted:2009-11-27 Online:2009-11-20 Published:2009-11-20
  • Contact: Jingyun Fang


A plant community is an assemblage of plant populations that live in certain area, and interact with and adapt to one another in the context of long-term environmental changes. Plant communities maintain global ecosystem functions, and provide food and habitats for animals and other organisms. Plant communities also provide primary resources for human survival and development, and are therefore indispensable to human societies. China is among the countries with the most diverse plant communities in the world. However, no systematic national inventory has been conducted for Chinese plant communities. This fact obstructs exploitation and protection of China’s plant resources, and also hampers the development of the fields of Chinese ecology and geography. There is an urgent need to survey Chinese plant communities using consistent methods and protocols. In this paper, we review major concepts in plant community ecology, and propose a framework for developing plant community inventories based on recent progress in community ecology and our own experience with long-term field surveys. Our framework provides protocols for site selection and plot design, items to be measured in a plot, and measurements of functional traits of dominant species. We also review protocols for field surveys of large, long-term plots. The protocols proposed in this paper are expected to be a base for standardizing methodology for inventory of Chinese plant communities.

Key words: plant community, plot design, community attribute, importance of species, ecological traits