EUNIS Habitat Classification: Expert system, characteristic species combinations and distribution maps of European habitats

Milan Chytrý*, Lubomír Tichý, Stephan M. Hennekens, Ilona Knollová, John A.M. Janssen, John S. Rodwell, Tomáš Peterka, Corrado Marcenò, Flavia Landucci, Jiří Danihelka, Michal Hájek, Jürgen Dengler, Pavel Novák, Dominik Zukal, Borja Jiménez-Alfaro, Ladislav Mucina, Sylvain Abdulhak, Svetlana Aćić, Emiliano Agrillo, Fabio AttorreErwin Bergmeier, Idoia Biurrun, Steffen Boch, János Bölöni, Gianmaria Bonari, Tatiana Braslavskaya, Helge Bruelheide, Juan Antonio Campos, Andraž Čarni, Laura Casella, Mirjana Ćuk, Renata Ćušterevska, Els De Bie, Pauline Delbosc, Olga Demina, Yakiv Didukh, Daniel Dítě, Tetiana Dziuba, Jörg Ewald, Rosario G. Gavilán, Jean Claude Gégout, Gian Pietro Giusso del Galdo, Valentin Golub, Nadezhda Goncharova, Friedemann Goral, Ulrich Graf, Adrian Indreica, Maike Isermann, Ute Jandt, Florian Jansen, Jan Jansen, Anni Jašková, Martin Jiroušek, Zygmunt Kącki, Veronika Kalníková, Ali Kavgacı, Larisa Khanina, Andrey Yu. Korolyuk, Mariya Kozhevnikova, Anna Kuzemko, Filip Küzmič, Oleg L. Kuznetsov, Māris Laiviņš, Igor Lavrinenko, Olga Lavrinenko, Maria Lebedeva, Zdeňka Lososová, Tatiana Lysenko, Lise Maciejewski, Constantin Mardari, Aleksander Marinšek, Maxim G. Napreenko, Viktor Onyshchenko, Aaron Pérez-Haase, Remigiusz Pielech, Vadim Prokhorov, Valerijus Rašomavičius, Maria Pilar Rodríguez Rojo, Solvita Rūsiņa, Joachim Schrautzer, Jozef Šibík, Urban Šilc, Željko Škvorc, Viktor A. Smagin, Zvjezdana Stančić, Angela Stanisci, Elena Tikhonova, Tiina Tonteri, Domas Uogintas, Milan Valachovič, Kiril Vassilev, Denys Vynokurov, Wolfgang Willner, Sergey Yamalov, Douglas Evans, Mette Palitzsch Lund, Rania Spyropoulou, Eleni Tryfon, Joop H.J. Schaminée

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim: The EUNIS Habitat Classification is a widely used reference framework for European habitat types (habitats), but it lacks formal definitions of individual habitats that would enable their unequivocal identification. Our goal was to develop a tool for assigning vegetation-plot records to the habitats of the EUNIS system, use it to classify a European vegetation-plot database, and compile statistically-derived characteristic species combinations and distribution maps for these habitats. Location: Europe. Methods: We developed the classification expert system EUNIS-ESy, which contains definitions of individual EUNIS habitats based on their species composition and geographic location. Each habitat was formally defined as a formula in a computer language combining algebraic and set-theoretic concepts with formal logical operators. We applied this expert system to classify 1,261,373 vegetation plots from the European Vegetation Archive (EVA) and other databases. Then we determined diagnostic, constant and dominant species for each habitat by calculating species-to-habitat fidelity and constancy (occurrence frequency) in the classified data set. Finally, we mapped the plot locations for each habitat. Results: Formal definitions were developed for 199 habitats at Level 3 of the EUNIS hierarchy, including 25 coastal, 18 wetland, 55 grassland, 43 shrubland, 46 forest and 12 man-made habitats. The expert system classified 1,125,121 vegetation plots to these habitat groups and 73,188 to other habitats, while 63,064 plots remained unclassified or were classified to more than one habitat. Data on each habitat were summarized in factsheets containing habitat description, distribution map, corresponding syntaxa and characteristic species combination. Conclusions: EUNIS habitats were characterized for the first time in terms of their species composition and distribution, based on a classification of a European database of vegetation plots using the newly developed electronic expert system EUNIS-ESy. The data provided and the expert system have considerable potential for future use in European nature conservation planning, monitoring and assessment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Vegetation Science
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • coastal habitat
  • diagnostic species
  • distribution map
  • dune vegetation
  • European Nature Information System (EUNIS)
  • European Vegetation Archive (EVA)
  • expert system
  • forest
  • grassland
  • habitat classification
  • man-made habitat
  • shrubland
  • vegetation database
  • vegetation plot
  • wetland

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