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On the delineation of tropical vegetation types with an emphasis on forest/savanna transitions

Torello-Raventos, Mireia; Feldpausch, Ted R.; Veenendaal, Elmar; Schrodt, Franziska; Saiz, Gustavo; Domingues, Tomas F.; Djagbletey, Gloria; Ford, Andrew; Kemp, Jeanette; Marimon, Beatriz S.; Hur Marimon Junior, Ben; Lenza, Eddie; Ratter, James A.; Maracahipes, Leandro; Sasaki, Denise; Sonk�, Bonaventure; Zapfack, Louis; Taedoumg, Hermann; Villarroel, Daniel; Schwarz, Michael; Quesada, Carlos A.; Yoko Ishida, F.; Nardoto, Gabriela B.; Affum-Baffoe, Kofi; Arroyo, Luzmilla; M.J.S. Bowman, David; Compaore, Halidou; Davies, Kalu; Diallo, Adama; Fyllas, Nikolaos M.; Gilpin, Martin; Hien, Fid�le; Johnson, Michelle; Killeen, Timothy J.; Metcalfe, Daniel; Miranda, Heloisa S.; Steininger, Mark; Thomson, John; Sykora, Karle; Mougin, Eric; Hiernaux, Pierre; Bird, Michael I.; Grace, John; Lewis, Simon L.; Phillips, Oliver L.; Lloyd, Jon


Mireia Torello-Raventos

Ted R. Feldpausch

Elmar Veenendaal

Gustavo Saiz

Tomas F. Domingues

Gloria Djagbletey

Andrew Ford

Jeanette Kemp

Beatriz S. Marimon

Ben Hur Marimon Junior

Eddie Lenza

James A. Ratter

Leandro Maracahipes

Denise Sasaki

Bonaventure Sonk�

Louis Zapfack

Hermann Taedoumg

Daniel Villarroel

Michael Schwarz

Carlos A. Quesada

F. Yoko Ishida

Gabriela B. Nardoto

Kofi Affum-Baffoe

Luzmilla Arroyo

David M.J.S. Bowman

Halidou Compaore

Kalu Davies

Adama Diallo

Nikolaos M. Fyllas

Martin Gilpin

Fid�le Hien

Michelle Johnson

Timothy J. Killeen

Daniel Metcalfe

Heloisa S. Miranda

Mark Steininger

John Thomson

Karle Sykora

Eric Mougin

Pierre Hiernaux

Michael I. Bird

John Grace

Simon L. Lewis

Oliver L. Phillips

Jon Lloyd


Background: There is no generally agreed classification scheme for the many different vegetation formation types occurring in the tropics. This hinders cross-continental comparisons and causes confusion as words such as ‘forest’ and ‘savanna’ have different meanings to different people. Tropical vegetation formations are therefore usually imprecisely and/or ambiguously defined in modelling, remote sensing and ecological studies.

Aims: To integrate observed variations in tropical vegetation structure and floristic composition into a single classification scheme.

Methods: Using structural and floristic measurements made on three continents, discrete tropical vegetation groupings were defined on the basis of overstorey and understorey structure and species compositions by using clustering techniques.

Results: Twelve structural groupings were identified based on height and canopy cover of the dominant upper stratum and the extent of lower-strata woody shrub cover and grass cover. Structural classifications did not, however, always agree with those based on floristic composition, especially for plots located in the forest–savanna transition zone. This duality is incorporated into a new tropical vegetation classification scheme.

Conclusions: Both floristics and stand structure are important criteria for the meaningful delineation of tropical vegetation formations, especially in the forest/savanna transition zone. A new tropical vegetation classification scheme incorporating this information has been developed.


Torello-Raventos, M., Feldpausch, T. R., Veenendaal, E., Schrodt, F., Saiz, G., Domingues, T. F., …Lloyd, J. (2013). On the delineation of tropical vegetation types with an emphasis on forest/savanna transitions. Plant Ecology and Diversity, 6(1), 101-137.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 26, 2012
Online Publication Date Mar 20, 2013
Publication Date Mar 20, 2013
Deposit Date Dec 14, 2018
Journal Plant Ecology & Diversity
Print ISSN 1755-0874
Electronic ISSN 1755-1668
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 101-137
Keywords anopy cover, cluster analysis forest, savanna, tropics, vegetation categorisation
Public URL
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