On the consistencies between CSR plant strategies and Ellenberg ecological indicator values


  • J. Franzaring
  • A. Fangmeier
  • R. Hunt


One strand of British comparative plant ecology has used experimental measurements of innate traits under standardized conditions to confirm plant ‘strategies’ or ‘functional types’. The Sheffield (Grime) school has now established CSR-signatures for 1010 species. In contrast, a Central-European approach (Göttingen or Ellenberg school) has emphasized the unity of plants with their natural habitats by allocating ‘ecological indicator values’ (EIV´s; German: Zeigerwerte) for over 2700 species, which describe the ecological behavior of each species in their plant associations. In this paper we assess the levels of compatibility and congruence between these two approaches using large datasets that include some previously unexamined traits. Despite there being a wide gap between these plant- and environment-based starting points, we discover that both approaches lead to similar conclusions regarding patterns of evolutionary tradeoffs and ecological processes. In particular, the comparisons support the major evolutionary generalization that plant life has, in effect, aligned itself along a continuum between one trait-group that confers rapid acquisition of resources and another that confers long-term resource conservation.