Formalized classification of semi-dry grasslands in central and eastern Europe

Wolfgang Willner 1 2 , Jan Roleček 3 4 , Andrey Korolyuk 5 , Jürgen Dengler 6 7 8 , Milan Chytrý 4 , Monika Janišová 9 , Attila Lengyel 10 11 , Svetlana Aćić 12 , Thomas Becker 13 , Mirjana Ćuk 14 , Olga Demina 15 , Ute Jandt 8 16 , Zygmunt Kącki 11 , Anna Kuzemko 17 , Matthias Kropf 18 , Mariya Lebedeva 19 , Yuri Semenishchenkov 20 , Urban Šilc 21 , Zvjezdana Stančić 22 , Markus Staudinger 23 , Kiril Vassilev 24 & Sergey Yamalov 19


  1. Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna, Austria
  2. Vienna Institute for Nature Conservation & Analyses, Gießergasse 6/7, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  3. Department of Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany, Czech Academy of Sciences, Lidická 25/27, 60200 Brno, Czech Republic
  4. Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 61137 Brno, Czech Republic
  5. Central Siberian Botanical Garden SB RAS, Zolotodolinskaya str. 101, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
  6. Vegetation Ecology Group, Institute of Natural Resource Sciences (IUNR), Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Grüentalstr. 14, 8820 Wädenswil, Switzerland
  7. Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstr. 30, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany
  8. German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
  9. Institute of Botany, Plant Science and Biodiversity Center, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Ďumbierska 1, 97411 Banská Bystrica, Slovakia
  10. MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Institute of Ecology and Botany, Alkotmány u. 2-4., 2163 Vácrátót, Hungary
  11. Botanical Garden, University of Wroclaw, ul. Sienkiewicza 23, 50-335 Wrocław, Poland
  12. Department of Botany, University of Belgrade, Nemanjina 6, 11080 Belgrade-Zemun, Serbia
  13. Faculty of Geography and Geosciences, University of Trier, Behringstr. 21, 54296 Trier, Germany
  14. Department of Biology and Ecology, University of Novi Sad
  15. Department of Natural Sciences, Karachay-Circassian State University, Lenina Street 29, Karachaevsk, Russia
  16. Institute of Biology, Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg, Am Kirchtor 1, 06108 Halle, Germany
  17. M.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Tereshchenkivska, 2, 01601, Kyiv, Ukraine
  18. Institute of Integrative Nature Conservation Research, University of Applied Life Sciences, Gregor Mendel-Str. 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
  19. South-Ural Botanical Garden-institute UFIC RAS, Mendeleev str., 195/3, 450080, Ufa, Russia
  20. Department of Botany, Bryansk State University, Bezhitskaya 14, 241036 Bryansk, Russia
  21. Institute of Biology ZRC SAZU, Novi trg 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  22. Faculty of Geotechnical Engineering, University of Zagreb, Hallerova aleja 7, 42000 Varaždin, Croatia
  23. AVL, Theobaldgasse 16/4, 1060 Vienna, Austria
  24. Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 23 Acad. G. Bonchev Str., 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria

Published: 11 February 2019 ,

PDF Appendices


European semi-dry grasslands are among the most species-rich vegetation types in the northern hemisphere and form an important part of the habitat mosaics in the forest-steppe zone. However, there is no comprehensive evaluation of the variation in their composition and the phytosociological classification of these grasslands. For the syntaxonomic revision, we used a dataset of 34,173 vegetation plot records (relevés) from central and eastern Europe, which were assigned to the class Festuco-Brometea using the diagnostic species listed in the EuroVegChecklist. To determine the diagnostic species of the orders, we used a TWINSPAN classification of the whole dataset. Of the total dataset, 15, 449 relevés were assigned to the order Brachypodietalia pinnati, which corresponds to semi-dry grasslands. This subset was again classified using TWINSPAN. Formal definitions of the following alliances were established: Mesobromion erecti, Cirsio-Brachypodion pinnati (incl. Fragario-Trifolion montani, Agrostio-Avenulion schellianae, Scabioso ochroleucae-Poion angustifoliae and Adonido vernalis-Stipion tirsae), Scorzonerion villosae and Chrysopogono-Danthonion. Another alliance, Armerion elongatae (= Koelerio-Phleion phleoidis p.p.), is transitional towards the class Koelerio-Corynephoretea and its status needs further evaluation. We also established formal definitions of all of the associations of Mesobromion and Cirsio-Brachypodion within the area studied. Associations were identified using (i) a TWINSPAN classification of the whole order, (ii) TWINSPAN classifications of regionally restricted data sets (usually all Brachypodietalia plots in one country) and (iii) existing national classification schemes. All formal definitions were written in the expert system language of the JUICE program. To obtain a more complete picture of the floristic similarities and gradients, we performed a DCA ordination of the associations. Our results revealed that meadow steppes in the forest-steppe zone in eastern Europe are very similar to semi-dry grasslands in central Europe.


Brachypodietalia pinnati, Cirsio-Brachypodion, Festuco-Brometea, meadow steppe, Mesobromion, semi-dry grassland, syntaxonomy, vegetation classification

How to cite

Willner W., Roleček J., Korolyuk A., Dengler J., Chytrý M., Janišová M., Lengyel A., Aćić S., Becker T., Ćuk M., Demina O., Jandt U., Kącki Z., Kuzemko A., Kropf M., Lebedeva M., Semenishchenkov Y., Šilc U., Stančić Z., Staudinger M., Vassilev K. & Yamalov S. (2019) Formalized classification of semi-dry grasslands in central and eastern Europe. – Preslia 91: 2549,