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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Scott, Brenton [1], Stromberg, Juliet [2], PIGG , KATHLEEN B [3].

A clarification of terminology for plants associated with rock habitats.

Proliferation of terms is all too common in the fields of ecology and botany.  Terminology with the suffix “–phyte”  ("plant") is used  in ecological literature to describe a plant’s ecological niche, habitat affiliation, or growth form. Whereas some of these terms have well established and clearly understood definitions (e.g., halophytes for salt tolerant plants) others are polysemous.  In particular, the many terms for plants associated with rock surfaces, crevices, and ledges are ill-defined terms that sometimes are used incorrectly.  The use of precise and universally accepted terminology is important in maintaining clarity of information.
We review terms for plants associated with exposed geological formations, such as rock surfaces, crevices and ledges, characterized by lack of or minimal amount of soil. These terms include: chasmophyte, chomophyte, ediphyte, lithophyte and additional adjectival terms. As part of a critique of available literature, we are identifying the origins of these terms and their strict definitions, quantifying their use through time in academic literature, and asking whether certain terms are affiliated with geographical publishing regions. Data to-date indicates that   –phyte terminology is most prevalent in European publications and the terms chasmophyte and lithophytes are used most frequently ediphyte used far less. In contrast, American publications most commonly use adjectival terminology, describing plants, plant communities or habitats as saxatile, rupicolous and, rock outcrops. These terms, which have arisen in a variety of different contexts and reflect the intentions of their users, overlap in usage and meaning.  With this analysis we will recommend a series of more nuanced definitions. This will aid in furthering research on this understudied topic by providing a base for consensus in appropriate terminology. Additionally, to avoid further proliferation of new synonymous terminology, the provided definitions will take into account the increasing number of anthropogenic rock habitats (such as bridges, sidewalks, and roads) that sustain vegetation.

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1 - Arizona State University, School Of Life Sciences, PO Box 4601, Tempe, AZ, 85287-4601, USA
2 - Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences Faculty and Admin, Box 874501, Tempe, AZ, 85281, USA
3 - Arizona State University, SCHOOL OF LIFE SCIENCES FACULTY & ADMIN, BOX 874501, Tempe, AZ, 85287-4501, USA

Rock habitat

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Eyrie/Boise Centre
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PEC028
Abstract ID:798
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Poster

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