Sigmachorology as a subject of phytosociological research: a review
The young scientific field of sigmachorology (derived from sigma = sum of phytocoenoses) deals with the distribution of typified vegetation complexes and investigates the vegetation-historical, physical-geographical, and/or anthropogenic causes of distribution patterns of the complexes, e.g. with the help of coincidence analysis. Sigmachorology is a biogeographical, landscape-ecological bridge discipline combining biology and geography. Up to now, results about chorological regularities are available for selected physiotopes (e.g. coastal habitats, bogs, banks of running waters, rock complexes); and, to a lesser extent, for larger landscape sections. Compared to chorological descriptions of chosen taxa or syntaxa, a higher level of integration is attained with the help of sigmachorology, in order that some characteristics of ecosystems or ecosystem complexes can be better recognized and cartographically depicted (e.g. trophic levels, mesoclimatic influences, hydrological particularities, disturbances, etc.). Vegetation complexes are often used as landscape-ecological main features of ecosystems. There are various application possibilities, e.g. in the framework of intermediate-scale maps (scale 1:100 000 and more), "Environmental Impact Assessments" (EIAs), or for biocoenological approaches.