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No. 169 July 17, 1997
aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2
HEINZ ELLENBERG, 1913-1997
A very sad news from Germany was the recent death of Heinz
Ellenberg, on May 2, 1997 in Goettingen. His scientific works
and outstanding personality have touched and influenced several
generations of vegetation and plant ecologists, not only in
Europe, but also throughout the world.
The fifth edition of his life's synthesis work (in German),
"Vegetation Mitteleuropas mit den Alpen", Eugen Ulmer Verlag,
Stuttgart, 1996, had only recently arrived on my desk. His
fourth (1986) edition was translated into English and appeared
under the title "Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe",
Cambridge University Press, 1988. An earlier book in English,
"Integrated Experimental Ecology", edited by H. Ellenberg was
published by Springer-Verlag in its now well-known "Ecological
Studies Series" as Volume 2 in 1971. It dealt with methods and
preliminary results of the German contribution to the IBP (In-
ternational Biological Program), the first internationally
coordinated big biological science program. In Germany, this was
directed by Heinz Ellenberg and was known as the "Solling
Project." The complete results appeared as a 20-year study in
1986 in an Ulmer book entitled "Oekosystemforschung - Ergebnisse
des Solling Projekts 1966-1986", edited by H. Ellenberg, R.
Mayer, and J. Schauermann.
I had the great fortune to sit in H. Ellenberg's introductory
botany lectures in 1948/49 at the University of Stuttgart-
Hohenheim. At that time, he had just obtained his habilitation
as university lecturer and was teaching the course in tandem
with the botanical institute's director, Professor Heinrich
Walter. As I later realized, both were impressive teachers,
whose lectures and personalities inspired me for the rest of my
life. Dr. Ellenberg, at that time, introduced vegetation ecology
by field excursions in which we learned how to do releves
(vegetation samples). Later, after I had immigrated to Canada in
1952, and when I was inspired by Vladimir J. Krajina to continue
my studies with a Ph.D. in forest ecology, I resumed active
contact with both, Profs. H. Walter and H. Ellenberg.
One of Ellenberg's fundamental questions in vegetation ecology
was, "what controls the combination of plant species in field
communities?" For this, the "Hohenheimer Groundwater
Experiment", suggested by H. Walter and carried through by H.
Ellenberg, gave a compelling answer. Ellenberg clearly
demonstrated the difference between physiological and ecological
behaviors of plants, the first relating to the absence of com-
petition, the second to plants growing in competition with other
plants. He coined the term physiological optimum and ecological
optimum, which helped to clarify the causality of plant dis-
tribution patterns in nature.
These and other aspects, such as Ellenberg's "ecological group
concept", were retained in the book Mueller-Dombois/Ellenberg
"Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology", Wiley and Sons, 1974,
which represented the first synthesis of European and Anglo-
American approaches to vegetation ecology. The book could be
written because of Ellenberg's prior work, and it undoubtedly
contributed to a broader familiarity with Ellenberg's name among
Heinz Ellenberg produced over 200 scientific papers, including
several books, listed in part in his first "Festschrift", pub-
lished by the German Ecological Society (Goettingen 1983) at the
occasion of his 70th birthday. A second "Festschrift" in honor
of his 80th birthday appeared in Phytocoenologia Vols. 23(1993)
and 24(1994). Excellent accounts on H. Ellenberg's professional
life and his impact on modern ecology, including ecosystem
analysis and landscape ecology as well as the application of
vegetation science to agriculture and forestry, are summarized
in both his "Festschrifts" by Wolfgang Haber, Gisela Jahn, and
Heinz Ellenberg's great contributions were increasingly and
repeatedly recognized. For example, he was invited by the
British Ecological Society to give the prestigious "Tansley
Lecture" in 1977, which was subsequently published with the
title "Man's influence on tropical mountain ecosystems in South
America" in Journal of Ecology 67: 401-416, 1979. Moreover, he
received honorable degrees from four universities: Dr. agr. h.c.
(Munich), Dr. rer. nat. h.c. (Zagreb), Dr. phil. nat. h.c.
(Muenster), and Dr. phil. h.c. (Lueneburg).
His major works, the five successive editions concerned with the
"Vegetation Ecology of Central Europe", were always dedicated to
his closest and strongest supporter, his wife of 60 years,
Charlotte Ellenberg, herself a professional geographer and
partner in his life's work. I cannot conclude this short
obituary without thinking of her unimaginable suffering by
losing her husband, the man who will continue to live in the
memory of all those who were touched by his outstanding per-
June 26, 1997
WEB SITE: INDICATOR VALUES OF VASCULAR PLANTS OF CENTRAL EUROPE
From: Adolf Ceska <aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca>
Ellenberg's indicator values ("Zeigerwerte") of vascular plants
of central Europe are available on the following web site:
[If you are using search engines, "Ellenberg-Zeigerwerte" (no
apostrophes) will find you this site. You can search the
database by the family (Familie), genus (Gattung), species
(Art), or the combination of a genus & species (Gattung + Art).]
Indicator values of about 2720 central-European vascular plants
are listed with ranking of species for the following ecological
factors: light (L), temperature (T), continentality (K), mois-
ture (F), soil pH (R), nutrients/nitrogen (N), and others
(salinity, heavy metal resistance) (sonst). Life forms of plants
and plant communities in which the plant occurs are also listed.
The web list is based on Ellenberg et al. (1992). Ellenberg
suggested that the simplest use of the indicator values is to
calculate "mean indicator value" for the releve or community
The recent paper by Hawkes et al. (1997) deals with the applica-
tion of Ellenberg indicator values in Britain. Ter Braak &
Gremmen (1987), Mountford and Chapman (1993), and Thompson et
al. (1993) also discussed the use of indicator values in vegeta-
tion studies. In coastal British Columbia, the ranking of in-
dicator forest species was published by Klinka et al. (1989).
Ellenberg, H., H.E. Weber, R. Dull, V. Wirth, W. Werner, & D.
Paulissen. 1992. Zeigerwerte von Pflanzen in Mitteleuropa.
Scripta Geobotanica 18: 1-258.
Hawkes, J.C., D.G. Pyatt, & I.M.S. White. 1997. Using Ellenberg
indicator values to assess soil quality in British forests
from ground vegetation: a pilot study. Journal of Applied
Ecology 34: 375-387.
Klinka, K., V.J. Krajina, A. Ceska, & A.M. Scagel. 1989. In-
dicator plants of coastal British Columbia. University of
British Columbia Press, Vancouver.
Mountford, J.O. & J.M. Chapman. 1993. Water regime requirements
of British wetland classifications of Ellenberg and Londo.
Journal of Environmental Management, 38: 275-288.
Ter Braak, C.J.F. & N.J.M. Gremmen. 1987. Ecological amplitudes
of plant species and the internal consistency of Ellenberg's
indicator values for moisture. Vegetatio 69: 79-87.
Thompson, K., K.G. Hodgson, J.P. Grime, I.H. Rorison, S.R. Band,
& R.E. Spencer. 1993. Ellenberg numbers revisited.
Phytocoenologia 23: 277-289.
Submissions, subscriptions, etc.: aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca
BEN is archived on gopher freenet.victoria.bc.ca. URL: gopher:
Also archived at http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/