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Geographic area with a relatively uniform composition of plant species
A phytochorion, in phytogeography, is a geographic area with a relatively uniform composition of plant species. Adjacent phytochoria do not usually have a sharp boundary, but rather a soft one, a transitional area in which many species from both regions overlap. The region of overlap is called a vegetation tension zone.
In traditional schemes, areas in phytogeography are classified hierarchically, according to the presence of endemic families, genera or species, e.g., in floral (or floristic, phytogeographic) zones and regions, or also in kingdoms, regions and provinces, sometimes including the categories empire and domain. However, some authors prefer not to rank areas, referring to them simply as "areas", "regions" (in a non hierarchical sense) or "phytochoria".
Several systems of classifying geographic areas where plants grow have been devised. Most systems are organized hierarchically, with the largest units subdivided into smaller geographic areas, which are made up of smaller floristic communities, and so on. Phytochoria are defined as areas possessing a large number of endemictaxa. Floristic kingdoms are characterized by a high degree of family endemism, floristic regions by a high degree of generic endemism, and floristic provinces by a high degree of species endemism. Systems of phytochoria have both significant similarities and differences with zoogeographic provinces, which follow the composition of mammalfamilies, and with biogeographical provinces or terrestrial ecoregions, which take into account both plant and animal species.
The term "phytochorion" (Werger & van Gils, 1976) is especially associated with the classifications according to the methodology of Josias Braun-Blanquet, which is tied to the presence or absence of particular species, mainly in Africa.
In the late 19th century, Adolf Engler (1844-1930) was the first to make a world map with the limits of distribution of floras, with four major floral regions (realms). His Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien, from the third edition (1903) onwards, also included a sketch of the division of the earth into floral regions.
Botanist Ronald Good (1947) identified six floristic kingdoms (Boreal or Holarctic, Neotropical, Paleotropical, South African, Australian, and Antarctic), the largest natural units he determined for flowering plants. Good's six kingdoms are subdivided into smaller units, called regions and provinces. The Paleotropical kingdom is divided into three subkingdoms, which are each subdivided into floristic regions. Each of the other five kingdoms are subdivided directly into regions. There are a total of 37 floristic regions. Almost all regions are further subdivided into floristic provinces.
Takhtajan (1978, 1986) regionalization
Armen Takhtajan (1978, 1986), in a widely used scheme that builds on Good's work, identified thirty-five floristic regions, each of which is subdivided into floristic provinces, of which there are 152 in all.
^Werger, M. J. A. & H. van Gils. 1976. Phytosociological classification problems in chorological border line areas. J. Biogeogr. 3: 49-54, .
^glossaryArchived 2008-04-11 at the Wayback Machine from Bredenkamp, George J.; Granger, J. Ed; Hoffman, M. Timm; Lubke, Roy A.; Mckenzie, Bruce; Rebelo, A. (Tony) & Noel, van Rooyen (February 1998). Low, A. Barrie & Rebelo, A. (Tony) G. (eds.). Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland: A companion to the Vegetation Map of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Pretoria.
^Prance, G. T. (1989). American Tropical forests, in Ecosystems of the World, Vol. 14B. Tropical Rain Forest Ecosystems, (eds H. Lieth and M. J. A. Werger), Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 99-132, .
^Engler, A. (1879-1882). Versuch einer Entwicklungsgeschichte der Pflanzenwelt. 2 vols., Leipzig.
^Cox, C. B., Moore, P.D. & Ladle, R. J. 2016. Biogeography: an ecological and evolutionary approach. 9th edition. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, p. 10, .
^Takhtajan, A. (1986). Floristic Regions of the World. (translated by T.J. Crovello & A. Cronquist). University of California Press, Berkeley, PDF, DjVu.
^Cox, C. B. (2001). The biogeographic regions reconsidered. Journal of Biogeography, 28: 511-523, .
Frodin, D.G. (2001). Guide to Standard Floras of the World. An annotated, geographically arranged systematic bibliography of the principal floras, enumerations, checklists and chorological atlases of different areas. 2nd ed. (1st edn 1984), pp. xxiv, 1100, .Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, .