Object structure

Wykorzystanie zdjęć fitosocjologicznych w najnowszych badaniach środowiska przyrodniczego = The use of phytosociological relevés in recent studies of the natural environment


Przegląd Geograficzny T. 93 z. 3 (2021)


Kowalska, Anna : Autor Affiliation ; Wolski, Jacek (1971– ) : Autor Affiliation ; Affek, Andrzej Norbert : Autor Affiliation ORCID ; Regulska, Edyta : Autor Affiliation ORCID ; Roo-Zielińska, Ewa (1948– ) : Autor Affiliation



Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



24 cm

Subject and Keywords:

systematic review ; vegetation databases ; Braun-Blanquet method ; habitat conditions ; plant communities


The aim of this work was to review the latest literature in terms of the use of phytosociological relevés (vegetation plots) in research on the natural environment. The systematic review included 321 articles published in 2010‑2021 in the most renowned journals (indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection with a score ≥100 according to the 2021 list of journals of the Poland’s Ministry of Education and Science). The research questions were: in which fields of science and practice, for what purposes and on what spatial scales the phytosociological relevés are currently used. After initial review, the articles were divided into 10 thematic groups: 1) classification of plant communities, 2) methodological studies, 3) relationship between vegetation and other elements of the environment, 4) occurrence of invasive plant species, 5) indicative role of vegetation, 6) plant communities as habitats for animals, 7) human footprint on vegetation, 8) long-term vegetation changes, 9) combining phytosociological methods with remote sensing methods, 10) social studies. The results showed that phytosociological relevés, as the method to investigate vegetation developed in the first decades of the 20th century, are still widely used in many regions of the world. The most numerous thematic group comprised articles that show how habitat conditions impact the distribution and diversity of plant species and their communities, while the least numerous – studies combining natural and social research. The vast majority of research was dedicated to environmental problems, although social and economic aspects were also present. These were both theoretical and methodological works, as well as detailed studies, which resulted in the formation of recommendations and practical guidelines for nature protection or spatial planning. Recently, relevés have been rarely used solely to distinguish and characterise plant communities, as originally intended by those who invented this method. However, thanks to modern statistical and computer tools, more and more attempts are being made to create automatic classifications with the use of artificial intelligence, e.g. neural networks. The geographic scope was usually restricted to one country (local and regional – 241 articles) or to two or more bordering countries (47). Continental (19) and global (7) studies are less common and studies within Europe prevail. It is because the discussed method was developed and is best known in Europe (Franco-Swiss Phytosociological School), and its dissemination throughout the world is only an evidence of its universality and efficiency. The recent larger-scale studies became possible mainly due to the development of transnational vegetation databases, e.g. the widely utilised European Vegetation Database – EVA.


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0033-2143 (print) ; 2300-8466 (on-line) ; 10.7163/PrzG.2021.3.1


CBGiOS. IGiPZ PAN, sygn.: Cz.181, Cz.3136, Cz.4187 ; click here to follow the link



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Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license

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Copyright-protected material. [CC BY 4.0] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY 4.0 license, full text available at: ; -

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Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

Projects co-financed by:

Programme Innovative Economy, 2010-2014, Priority Axis 2. R&D infrastructure ; European Union. European Regional Development Fund





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