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BEN # 169

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Thu Jul 17 02:38:36 EST 1997

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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
English-speaking ecologists.

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
Otti Wilmanns.

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-

   Dieter Mueller-Dombois
   Kailua, Hawaii
   June 26, 1997

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
under consideration.

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).

Literature cited

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/

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