2021 Annual report
Over the last year (June 2020 to June 2021), the European Vegetation Survey (EVS) Working Group could not organize any meeting because of the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 29th EVS meeting, initially planned for May 2020, was first postponed to May 2021. Given the continued restrictions and uncertainties, the EVS Steering Committee decided to hold this meeting online on 6–7 September 2021. Currently, the online meeting is in preparation.
Because of the 2020 EVS meeting cancellation, the election of the new Steering Committee had to be organized electronically in August 2020. The Election Commission included Emiliano Agrillo, Monika Janišová and Borja Jiménez-Alfaro. Of nine candidates, five members of the Steering Committee for 2020–2024 were elected: Fabio Attorre (IT), Idoia Biurrun (ES), Milan Chytrý (CZ), Anna Kuzemko (UA) and Joop Schaminée (NL).
The activities of EVS were concentrated on the following topics:
(1) Further development of the European Vegetation Archive (EVA) and its use in research and applications
The new EVA Coordinating Board for the period 2020–2024 was elected, including Idoia Biurrun, ES (special responsibilities for grassland databases), Milan Chytrý, CZ (general coordination), Stephan Hennekens, NL (software development, database management), Florian Jansen, DE (special responsibilities for species databases), Borja Jiménez-Alfaro, ES (coordination, database management), Ilona Knollová, CZ (database management) and Anna Kuzemko, UA (special responsibilities for Eastern European databases). The electronic election was organized by Fabio Attorre and Christian Berg.
By April 2021, the number of EVA databases reached 99, including 1,804,985 vegetation plots. Of these plots, 87% were georeferenced, and 58% were assigned to phytosociological syntaxa. Of these plots, 74% may be accessed under the semi-restricted regime and 13% under the restricted regime, while the other 13% are open access. In total, EVA data were provided to 108 research projects (including 24 new projects over the last year; http://euroveg.org/…eva-projects). The number of publications of the EVA consortium also increased considerably during the last year, with 22 new papers published in scientific journals and one new report. A substantial contribution of the whole EVA consortium was the expert-system classification of EUNIS habitats (Chytrý et al. 2020, Applied Vegetation Science), co-authored by 99 researchers. It provided assignments of EVA vegetation plots to EUNIS typologies as a supporting tool for European nature conservation planning by the European Environment Agency and European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, as well as for further applications in EVA projects. Several EVA-based studies on international vegetation classification were published in Applied Vegetation Science and several macroecological studies in the Special Feature “Macroecology of Vegetation” in the Journal of Vegetation Science. Further articles were published in PNAS, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Journal of Biogeography, Forest Ecology and Management, Preslia, Tuexenia, Hacquetia and other journals. Since its launch, EVA has contributed to 50 journal papers, one book, 10 technical reports, one bachelor thesis and 73 presentations at conferences or workshops. An updated list of all publications is available at http://euroveg.org/…publications. Further details are available in the EVA Annual Report at http://euroveg.org/…ORT_2021.pdf.
(2) Maintenance of the standard European vegetation classification
The first voting on proposals of EuroVegChecklist changes submitted to the European Vegetation Classification Committee (EVCC) took place from 4 June to 4 July 2020. EVCC members voted on the recommendations issued for three proposals of change concerning spring vegetation, dune vegetation, and Mediterranean grasslands. As a result, EVCC accepted proposed modifications of the classes Ammophiletea and Helichryso-Crucianelletea but rejected proposals to include the alliance Philonotidion seriatae and the class Charybdido pancratii-Asphodeletea ramosi. The first report of the EVCC, including details of the proposals and recommendations of the specialist committee, was published in autumn 2020 (Biurrun & Willner 2020, Vegetation Classification and Survey 1: 145–147). Three more proposals concerning the inclusion in the EuroVegChecklist of two new alliances in the order Arrhenatheretalia and a new alliance in the class Cisto-Lavanduletea were evaluated during the reported period. However, the authors decided to withdraw them after negative reports from the specialist committee. The fourth proposal concerning the separation of the new class Helianthemo-Thymetea from Festuco-Brometea also received a negative report, and the authors decided to submit a revised proposal. We thank all vegetation scientists who submitted their proposals and especially to all the experts who served in the evaluation committees.
(3) Supporting the European Environment Agency in the development and management of the European habitat typology
An EVS team from the Wageningen Environmental Research and Masaryk University (Brno) continued developing the EUNIS Habitat Classification. Another two groups of habitats were revised: Coastal saltmarshes and Inland sparsely vegetated habitats. Crosswalks between these revised habitats, European Red List of Habitats, EuroVegChecklist and Habitats Directive Annex I were provided, the EUNIS-ESy expert system for automatic classification of European habitats was updated, characteristic species combinations were derived from the analysis of the EVA database and distribution maps were prepared. The updated data were made publicly available in the Zenodo repository (http://doi.org/…nodo.4812736).
Milan Chytrý, Idoia Biurrun, Joop Schaminée, Fabio Attorre and Anna Kuzemko (EVS Steering Committee)