1067-4136/02/3301- $27.00 © 2002
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2002, pp. 14–18. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 1, 2002, pp. 18–22.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2002 by Kurkin.
Phytocenotypes are the types of positions occupied
by species in phytocenoses, of the roles they play in
these phytocenoses, and of the properties that deter-
mine these positions and roles. Initially, the phytoceno-
types were distinguished on a purely quantitative basis.
As early as in 1844, G. Lecocq in France classiﬁed
meadow species with the maximum and minimum bio-
mass values as dominant and accidental, respectively
(Rabotnov, 1995). Qualitative criteria were put to use
much later, in the early 20th century. For example,
G.N. Vysotskii in 1915 distinguished between “preva-
lents” and “ingredients” in the steppe and semidesert
phytocenoses and classiﬁed the perennial plants with
the ﬁrst group and the annual and biennial plants with
the second group. A.Ya. Gordyagin in 1922 designated
these groups as dominant and subordinate species,
respectively. In studies performed between 1924 and
1928, G.I. Poplavskaya and V.N. Sukachev showed that
the dominant species in phytocenoses act as ediﬁcators
and create the phytoenvironment, and the subordinate
species (assectators) must adapt themselves to this phy-
toenvironment. Later, it was shown that not only indi-
vidual species, but also synusiae can play the role of
ediﬁcators (Lavrenko, 1959). In nonsalinized mead-
ows, the ediﬁcators of the aboveground and under-
ground spheres create conditions of shading and sod-
ding, respectively (Kurkin, 1968). In salinized halo-
phytic meadows, the environment-forming role of
dominant species is limited to modifying the chemistry
of soil salinization (Kurkin, 1992, 1994).
Ramenskii (1938) identiﬁed cenotypes based on the
properties of plant species but chose animals (rather
than plants) as prototypes: he compared violents (pow-
erful) with lions, patients (tolerant) with camels, and
explerents (fulﬁlling) with jackals. This made his clas-
siﬁcation of plant types popular but did not provide for
unambiguous understanding of them. The greatest con-
tribution to the development, reﬁnement, and detaliza-
tion of this classiﬁcation and the comparison of Ramen-
skii’s cenotypes with those identiﬁed by V.N. Sukachev
was made by Rabotnov (1966, 1978a, 1985, 1994).
according to Ramenskii, develop actively,
occupy the area, and retain it, suppressing competitors
owing to the vigor of life activity and complete con-
sumption of environmental resources. Active develop-
ment and vigorous life activity, however, are most typ-
ical of explerents in the periods when they occupy a
vacant area. In his earlier work, Ramenskii (1925)
noted that some “stay-at-home” violents such as tufted
sedge occupy the area slowly but steadily. Hence, the
deﬁnition given by Rabotnov (1978a, p. 128) is more
adequate: “Violents under conditions favorable for
them are highly capable of using available environmen-
tal resources, and this determines their superiority in
competition with other plants.”
were characterized by Ramenskii as plants
resistant to extreme environmental conditions under
which they become dominant because competitors
(violents) cannot grow in the corresponding habitats.
He noted the diversity of these habitats and conditions
under which the patients prevail: salinization, acid
soils, sharp changes in moistening, etc. In the ﬂood-
plains, long-ﬂooded and actively alluvial sites can be
classiﬁed as such habitats, as the growth of many com-
petitive species is excluded there.
Ramenskii regarded common reed as an archetypal
patient and called it a specialist in dealing with various
difﬁcult conditions, an “amphibious camel.” As com-
mon reed has a high growth rate and is highly produc-
tive, we cannot agree with authors who ascribe slow
growth and low productivity to all patients.
In addition to Ramenskii’s type of ecotopic patients,
the type phytocenotic patients was identiﬁed later
(Rabotnov, 1966, 1978b; Smirnova and Chistyakova,
1980; Mirkin, 1985; Smirnova, 1987).
according to Ramenskii, exhibit a very
low competitiveness, which is counterbalanced by their
Phytocenotypes and Ecocenotic Potentials of Meadow Grasses
K. A. Kurkin
Dedinovsk Research Station of Floodplain Meadow Culture, Vil’yams Research Institute of Forage, Krasnaya poima,
Lukhovitskii raion, Moscow oblast, 140514 Russia
Received September 20, 2000
—The systems of Ramenskii’s cenobiotic types and Grime’s life strategies applied to meadow grasses
are compared, and differences between these systems are demonstrated. The parameters of violence of meadow
grasses in the aboveground and underground spheres are discussed. The methods for evaluating the degrees of
shade tolerance in grasses and their tolerance to sodding are proposed. Two types of explerence are distin-
guished in meadow grasses (cenophobic and cenoﬂuctuation explerence).
: phytocenotype, plant life strategy, violence, patience, explerence, parameter.