Raunkiaers Life Forms

Life Form


Geophytes (Cryptophytes) Hemicryptophytes





Annual plants with complete life cycle lasting one season; plants survive unfavorable conditions as resistant seeds Buds on bulb or rhizome underground

Perennials with shoots or buds near the ground, possibly covered with leaf litter Perennials with shoots or buds from 0—25 cm above ground surface.

Perennials with buds more than 25 cm above ground Trees, shrubs, and vines. Plants growing on other plants. Aerial roots

*Not originally included in Raunkiaer's life forms, now included in contemporary classifications.

Source: Modified from Smith, R. L. 1990. Ecology and Field Biology, 4th ed. New York: Harper Collins, table 24.1.

of life forms is expressed as a proportion of the total number of species in the community, and this gives a measure of the ecological heterogeneity of the community.

Communities exhibit diversity in the amount of vertical stratification of species present. For example, a heavily vertically stratified community such as a mature forest can have a variety of distinct layers—for example shrub, understory, and canopy, each with its own group or guild of interacting species. Similarly, horizontal heterogeneous communities contain species present in different parts of the total range of the community. Species diversity at the edge of a community might be significantly different from that in the middle of the community. For example, the environmental conditions on the edge of an exposed, high-altitude forest are quite different from those in the more protected middle of the for-

est, and that is likely to affect the species present in those two areas.

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