Field Methods in Plant Ecology and Coenology

Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semesters 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

1. Description of the communities by the method of the phytosociology. Methods of the estimation of species number and abundance. Geometrical and coenological approaches of coverage. The classification system of phytosociology. Abundance-dominance estimation scales: Braun-Blanquet, Soó, Domin, Londo, percentage.

2. Vegetation mapping The category types of mapped objects: point-, line- and polygon types. Definition of the represented categories. The advantages and limits of the National Habitat Classification System (NHCS). The tools of vegetation mapping: maps, aerial and space photographs, databases. The elements of the geographical information system (GIS).

3. Pattern analysis, interspecific associations. Similarity functions, association analysis, multifunctional classification methods. Sampling with different spatial scales. The types of point patterns. The separation of plant individuals in the field. The numerical descriptors of the aggregation. Variance-mean ratio, two term local quadrate variance (TTLQV) method. The use of the PASSAGE analytical program.

4. Relationships between abiotic conditions and vegetation pattern Analysis of the relationships between abiotic conditions (light, soil, etc.) and plant population (abundance) parameters. Analytical tools for different data types. Connection between environmental heterogenity and vegetation pattern.

5-8. Field demonstration The practical part of the study is demonstrated in the course of a whole-day field work in the Hűvösvölgy. The investigated communities are oak forest and calcareous closed grassland.

9-15. Student’s filed practice At the field demonstration the students may choose a separete task from following: pattern analysis, relationship between the soil depth and vegetation cover, association analysis among species, vegetation mapping by NHCS categories, and classical coenological analysis and data management. The students have to prepare a manuscript based on their own data and analysis.

  • Krebs, C. J. 1999. Ecological Methodology. Addison Wesley Longman, Menlo Park

  • Kent, M., Coker, P. 1992: Vegetation description and analysis. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester