In community ecology and phytosociology an association is a type of ecological community with a predictable species composition, consistent physiognomy (structural appearance) which occurs in a particular habitat type.:181 The term was first coined by Alexander von Humboldt:16 and formalised by the International Botanical Congress in 1910.:182
An association can be viewed as a real, integrated entity shaped either by species interactions or by similar habitat requirements, or it can be viewed as merely a common point along a continuum. The former viewed was championed by American ecologist Frederic Clements, who viewed the association as a whole that was more than the sum of its parts, and by Josias Braun-Blanquet, a Swiss-born phytosociologist. On the other end of the argument was American ecologist Henry Gleason,:182–183 who saw these groupings of plant species as a coincidence produced by the "fluctuation and fortuitous immigration of plants, and an equally fluctuation and variable environment".
- Barbour, Michael G.; Jack H. Burk; Wanna D. Pitts, Frank S. Gilliam; Mark W. Schwartz (1999). Terrestrial Plant Ecology (Third Edition ed.). Addison Wesley Longman.
- Willner, Wolfgang (2006). "The association concept revisited". Phytocoenologia 36 (1): 67–76.
- Gleason (1935), cited in Barbour et al. 1999, p. 184
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