Types of herbaceous plant communities: habitat stereotypes

When creating naturalistic herbaceous plant communities, it is extremely helpful to base the design around a habitat stereotype. The rationale for doing so is that species that occur naturally together in a given plant community probably tolerate broadly similar conditions, and have similar management requirements. They are also likely to be broadly compatible with one another, although the

Types of herbaceous plant communities: habitat stereotypes

6.2

Wet meadow of British species in Richmond, North Yorkshire. Note the dense competitive foliage canopy on this relatively fertile site with Persicaria bistorta dominant. Smaller species dominate where soil fertility is reduced or the site is grazed

competitive capacity of individual species will often differ considerably. Even when using entirely nonnative species, this provides a logical basis to include/exclude species, to assess how well the designed vegetation will fit the environmental and social conditions prevailing on the site, and to assess whether the proposed vegetation can be appropriately managed. As has previously been made clear in the introduction, even when using species native to the region around the site, the purpose of this text is not habitat restoration per se. The habitat stereotype is to be used as a guide only. In many cases it may be useful to include other species that do not naturally co-occur with the core species, but which experience has shown are broadly compatible. Tables 6.1 to 6.6 demonstrate how species from different parts of the world, but occupying broadly similar habitats, can be interchanged to produce a customised vegetation.