Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2020, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (2): 96-110.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2019.0259

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Vegetation classification system and classification of vegetation types used for the compilation of vegetation of China

FANG Jing-Yun1,2,*(),GUO Ke1,WANG Guo-Hong1,TANG Zhi-Yao2,XIE Zong-Qiang1,SHEN Ze-Hao2,WANG Ren-Qing3,QIANG Sheng4,LIANG Cun-Zhu5,DA Liang-Jun6,YU Dan7   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2Institute of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    3School of Life Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China
    4School of Life Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
    5School of Ecology and Environment, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot 010021, China
    6School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    7College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
  • Received:2019-09-27 Accepted:2019-12-16 Online:2020-02-20 Published:2020-04-08
  • Contact: Jing-Yun FANG
  • Supported by:
    Special Foundation for National Science and Technology Basic Research Program of China(2015FY210200);Special Foundation for National Science and Technology Basic Resources Investigation of China(2019FY202300);Basic Research Center Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China(31988102)


Vegegraphy, a newly-created term in this paper and a compound word of prefix “vege-” of “vegetation” and suffix of “-graphy”, is a series of monographs that describe detailedly species composition, structures, functions, environmental settings, and distribution of a set of plant communities and/or their combinations for each vegetation type, using community data from vegetation survey. Its compilation is very huge, comprehensive, time-consuming research project, and great importance in the ecological research, vegetation restoration and utilization, biodiversity conservation, and environmental monitoring. This article first documents major community characteristics (i.e., species composition, structures, physiognomy, and dynamics), and historical development and current state of vegetation survey in China and worldwide, then reviews historical studies on vegetation classification systems and their revisions, and finally discusses compilation of vegetation of China and classification of vegetation types used for the compilation. For the revision of vegetation classification systems, we mainly revised high-level units of previous classification systems and the corresponding English terms. Following this revised classification system, the hierarchical level of China’s vegetation classification is expressed as high-level units (Vegetation Formation Group, Vegetation Formation, and Vegetation Subformation), medium-level units (Alliance Group, Alliance, and Suballiance), and lower-level units (Association Group and Association), respectively. In the Vegetation Formation Group unit, nine types were divided as Forest, Shrubland, Herbaceous vegetation, Desert, Swamp & Aquatic Vegetation, Alpine Tundra & Sparse Vegetation, Cultivated Vegetation, Urban Vegetation, and Non-Vegetated Area. For the compilation of vegetation of China and the classification of vegetation types, we used the high-level unit, Vegetation Formation, as the Volume of the vegegraphy, and used a specific term, “Vegetation type”, as the Issue under the Volume. The Vegetation type here is not a real vegetation classification unit but is a combination of a set of vegetation units (i.e., Vegetation Subformation and/or Alliance Group and/or Alliance) in which there exist the same or similar constructive species or the same dominant taxa (species or genus) in the communities. The determination of “Vegetation type” follows the four principles: identity of dominant taxa and life form, relative importance of habitats, difference of vegetation characteristics and application, and practicability of vegegraphy. As a result, the vegetation of China (Vegegraphy of China) completed will be composed of 48 volumes and about 110 issues.

Key words: plant community, vegetation, vegetation classification system, vegetation classification unit, vegetation type, classification of vegetation type, Vegegraphy of China