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Journal Article

The Concept of Minimal Area

Brian Hopkins
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 45, No. 2 (Jul., 1957), pp. 441-449
DOI: 10.2307/2256927
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2256927
Page Count: 9

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Topics: Plants, Plant communities, Vegetation, Communities, Bogs, Species, Marshes
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The Concept of Minimal Area
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Abstract

1. The Zurich-Montpellier School of plant sociology, led by Braun-Blanquet, defined the minimal area of a plant community as the point where the species-area curve became approximately horizontal. Later work threw doubt as to there being a definite `break' in the species-area curve. Workers then attempted to fix a position on the species-area curve by means of various ratios of species and areas in order to determine the minimal area. These methods were not wholly satisfactory. 2. The Uppsala School of plant sociology, led by Du Rietz, defined the minimal area of a plant community as the point where the constancy-area curve became approximately horizontal, a constant being a species of frequency of 90 per cent or more. Later work threw doubt on the existence of a definite `step' in the constancy-area curve. 3. Observations from twelve natural British plant communities are considered. The species-area curves show no evidence of a `break' in the curve. The constancy-area curves show no evidence of a `step' in the curve. 4. Thus minimal area cannot be determined objectively from the species-area or constancy-area curve.

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