Special Issue "Plant Succession and Vegetation Dynamics"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2023 | Viewed by 1523

Special Issue Editors

Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Passau, Innstraße 40, 94032 Passau, Germany
Interests: mangrove ecology; high mountain research; vegetation dynamics; plant ecology; plant diversity; vegetation geography
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Michael Richter
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Geography, Friedrich-Alexander-University, Kochstraße 4/4, 91054 Erlangen, Germany
Interests: vegetation ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plant cover on earth is changing continuously on different temporal and spatial scales. Those changes can be very obvious or rather inconspicuous, they can occur as sudden events or as gradual shifts, they can be locally restricted or global phenomena and they can be effective on different time scales from weeks to thousands of years. Thus, changes in plant cover on earth encompass wide spatio-temporal spectra and also the reasons for their emergence are manyfold.

Processes of directional change in species composition and vegetation structure with time are referred to as succession, a fundamental, but controversially discussed concept in plant community ecology and vegetation geography ever since early accounts in the 19th and 20th century by pioneers such as Adolphe Dureau de la Malle, Eugen Warming, Henry Cowles, Frederic Clements or Henry A. Gleason. Directional succession, however, is just one part of vegetation dynamics. There exists a broad variety of additional processes and patterns of vegetation change in both, space and time such as mosaic cycles, gap dynamics or cohort dynamics following diebacks. A better understanding of successional pathways, the processes involved and vegetation dynamics in general is crucial in times of rapid environmental change and increasing frequency and intensity of natural and man-made disturbances, as it has important implications for ecosystem restoration and overall vegetation management.

This Special Issue aims at highlighting and showcasing recent findings and advances in the study of plant succession and vegetation dynamics. Case studies from all plant communities on earth are welcome, as are comparisons between different plant communities. Methods employed may include, but are not limited to, permanent plot studies, chronosequence approaches, manipulation experiments, remote sensing techniques and modelling, to cover a broad range of spatial and temporal scales as well as potential underlying reasons in vegetation dynamics today.

Dr. Thomas Fickert
Prof. Dr. Michael Richter
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • vegetation dynamics
  • succession
  • mosaic cycles
  • gap dynamics
  • cohort dynamics
  • colonization
  • propagule dispersal pathways
  • species turnover
  • ecosystem functioning
  • conservation
  • natural regeneration

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Influence of Distance from Forest Edges on Spontaneous Vegetation Succession Following Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Southeast Peruvian Amazon
Diversity 2023, 15(6), 793; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15060793 - 19 Jun 2023
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Few studies describe the factors that influence the natural regeneration in abandoned gold mining areas in the Amazon. Here we focus on the influence of the distance to the forest edge and abandonment time in a spontaneous succession of degraded areas by gold [...] Read more.
Few studies describe the factors that influence the natural regeneration in abandoned gold mining areas in the Amazon. Here we focus on the influence of the distance to the forest edge and abandonment time in a spontaneous succession of degraded areas by gold mining in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon. We assessed woody species composition (DBH ≥ 1 cm) and forest stand structure across a chronosequence (2–23 years). A total of 79 species belonging to 30 families were identified. The natural regeneration was dominated by Fabaceae, Malvaceae, and Urticaceae. Together, they represented 60% of the importance index. Cecropia membranacea and Ochroma pyramidale were the dominant pioneer species at the initial successional stage. The basal area and species diversity were directly related to time after abandonment and inversely related to the distance to forest edges. The distance-based redundancy analysis showed that more of the variation in species composition was explained by distance to the forest edge than the abandonment time. Our study revealed that regeneration was relatively slow and provided evidence that the distance to the forest edge is important for natural regeneration in areas degraded by gold mining. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Succession and Vegetation Dynamics)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Plant succession in NW-Perú follows extremely variable rainfall scenarios

Richter, Michael; Rodriguez Arismendiz, Rodolfo.; Emck, Paul

This study is based on 24 years (October 1997 – April 2022) of vegetation monitoring on permanent test plots established in the perarid coastal area south of Paita, located in the Sechura Desert in NW Peru. The investigation began immediately before the last «Super-Niño» phenomenon in 1997/1998. During this phenomenon, sea positive surface temperature anomalies controlled regional precipitation patterns by a factor of 9.000% above the average. Apart from El Niño, which is well documented, there are other less intensively studied regional anomalies such as El Niño Costero, El Niño Modoki or also far reaching spillovers of wet air masses from the Amazonian escarpment of the Andes.

The main objective of this article is to present the influence of climatic extreme years on the regional flora and to document the impact of El Niño in the medium term in an arid terrestrial ecosystem. We also focus on the regional vegetation dynamics and the consequences on the food chain in three edaphic types that are: rocky desert (= hamada), gravel desert (= sserir) and sandy desert (= erg). During the first phase, annual grasses germinate. However, in the different types of soils there are differences during the successions and retrogressions. In the hamada type, the degree of coverage is lower from the beginning than in the other two types. Differences are shown in the spectra of the species and also in the types of disturbances (sand movement, rodent impact, among others). The development of the spectra of life forms also differs. The results are discussed in the context of global climate change, highlighting the importance of the role of El Niño in the renewal of ecosystems.

Key words: El Niño 1997/98, rainfall events, plant succession, ecological dynamics, climate change

Vegetation change in space and time – Types, trajectories and trends

Thomas Fickert & Michael Richter

The plant cover on earth is far from static, rather it is subject to continuous change on different spatial and temporal scales. Those changes can be very obvious or barely noticeable, they can run gradually or take place abruptly, they can be locally limited or extend over large areas, they can be operative over different periods of time from weeks to millions of years and they can be traced back to a variety of different causes. Thus, vegetation change covers a wide spatio-temporal range, from local and/or seasonal changes (e.g. phenological stages) up to developments on a spatially large and temporally long-term scale (e.g. the post-glacial vegetation development of Central Europe during the last 10.000 years). Processes and patterns involved in vegetation change have been a classic research field in biogeography since early accounts in the 19th century, which is experiencing kind of a revival today in times of climate warming and ongoing anthropogenic pressure on natural ecosystems. This review aims to summarize the present knowledge and recent findings about types, trajectories and trends related to vegetation change in space and time.


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