Largest system of ecological indicator values in Europe published

17 January 2023

We might only be a few weeks into 2023, but for the Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS) journal the year has already proven to be a strong one, after VCS became the scholarly outlet for the paper describing the most comprehensive system of ecological indicator values (EIVs) of vascular plants in Europe to date, referred to as EIVE 1.0.

The complete EIVE 1.0 database, which is the result of the 7-year hard work by 34 international scientists, led by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Dengler (Zurich University of Applied Science, Switzerland) and Prof. Dr. Florian Jansen (University of Rostock, Germany) is also made openly available from Zenodo.

The database provides the five most-used ecological indicators: moisture, nitrogen, reaction, light and temperature, for a total of 14,835 vascular plant taxa in Europe. For each of these taxa, EIVE contains three values: the EIVE niche position indicator, the EIVE niche width indicator and the number of regional EIV systems on which the assessment was based. The database integrates all EIV systems in Europe that contained at least one of the selected indicators for vascular plants.

“Evidently, EIVE can be an important tool for continental-scale analyses of vegetation and floristic data in Europe,” comment the study’s authors. “It will allow the analysis of the nearly 2 million vegetation plots currently contained in the European Vegetation Archive in new ways.”

However, the team makes it clear that the “publication of EIVE 1.0 is not the endpoint, but rather a starting point for future developments in a community-based approach.”

Their intention is to continue and inspire others to prepare more comprehensive releases of EIVE in the future and update its taxonomic backbone. In particular, over the next two years, the team plans to add further taxa: bryophytes, lichens, macroalgae, and some additional indicators.

In a behind-the-curtains guest contribution for the Pensoft blog, the VCS chief editors - also senior authors of the paper - use the occasion to send a special invitation for collaboration to researchers who have either:

  • a new or overlooked indicator value system for any taxonomic group in Europe and adjacent areas
  • suggestions for improvements of our taxonomic backbone
  • an idea for a research paper in the EIVE context that they would like to realise together with the EIVE core team.


You can read more about the study’s highlights, rationale and plans for the future in the full behind-the-curtains guest blog post. There you will also find how EIVE 1.0 compares to another supranational system of ecological indicator values in Europe (Tichý et al. 2023), which uses a similar approach and was also published in early January 2023.


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Image caption: Geographic coverage of the 31 ecological indicator value systems that entered the calculation of the consensus system of EIVE 1.0 (image from the original article).

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