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Danube Meadow Data (Germany)

Source of data

Ellenberg (1956), Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg (1974). The species data used here comes from the R package dave written by Otto Wildi (dataset mveg), which is citing as source also Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg (1974). Species names have been changed from abbreviations used in dave into full names according to the Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg (1974). Header data have been retyped from Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg (1974). Ellenberg values have been manually assigned to species using JUICE software.

Partial scan of the original data table reprinted in Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg (1974). Values represent percentage biomass, and the superscript added to some values (e.g. +o) represents species vitality (low in this case).

Description of the dataset

Dataset represents an example of phytocoenological data of meadow communities, sampled along the gradient of increased biomass of Arrhenatherum elatius. Biomass (not cover) of each species was estimated, using the approach of Knapp (1929)1) - as a percentage proportion of total biomass, estimated for the whole plot (estimations were checked against real weightings of fresh biomass in the field). Therefore, sum of species values in each plot are close to 100%; the percentage proportion of openings within the plots were also recorded, together with plot area and hay yield (see Environmental data).

The original table contains 25 plots (10-25 m2) and 94 species. In the original table, samples are sorted along increasing dominance of Arrhenatherum elatius. In Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg (1974), three vegetation types are distinguished using manual table sorting (for details see Environmental variables) - while the first type (Bromus-Arrhenatherum community) is relatively distinct, the other two (Geum-Arrhenatherum and Cirsium-Arrhenatherum community) are relatively continuous, and the dataset contains one outlier2) (Gauch & Whittaker 1981).

This dataset has been used in numerous studies to demonstrate functionality of various methods of analysing community data. Hill (1979) used it as an example dataset for TWINSPAN, Hill & Gauch (1980) used it to demonstrate DCA.


Germany, Danube valley south of Ulm.

Environmental variables

Name of variable Description
areaRelevé area [m2]
openingsOpenings in vegetation [% area]
yieldHay yield [kg×100/ha]3)
veg.typeVegetation type (A, B, C or D, see details below)
Light, Temp, Cont, Moist, React, Nutr Mean Ellenberg indicator values for light, temperature, continentality, moisture, soil reaction and nutrients (calculated as mean of species indicator values not weighted by species biomass)

Vegetation types (variable veg.type) are according to Table 9.7 in Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg (1974). The codes A, B and C stands for:

  • A - Bromus-Arrhenatherum community
  • B - Geum-Arrhenatherum community
  • C - Cirsium-Arrhenatherum community
  • D - releve 19, which has been deleted from the original Ellenberg's table, since its composition is quite different (contains Arrhenatherum elatius and Festuca pratensis, but other dominant species are Phalaris arundinacea and Glyceria fluitans)

Data for download

File name File type Description
danube-meadow-data.xlsx Excel file Contains sample × species matrix, header data, Ellenberg indicator values for species
danube.spe.txt tab-delimited txt format Sample × species matrix (48 samples in rows, 171 species in columns, full species names, species values in percentage of biomass (not cover))
danube.env.txt tab-delimited txt format Environmental variable matrix (samples in rows, variables in columns, including calculated mean Ellenberg indicator values)
danube.ell.txt tab-delimited txt format species Ellenberg indicator values (species in rows, Ellenbergs in columns), assigned to individual species according to Ellenberg et al. (1992)

Script for direct import of data to R

danube.spe <- read.delim ('', row.names = 1)
danube.env <- read.delim ('', row.names = 1)
danube.ell <- read.delim ('', row.names = 1)


  • Ellenberg H. (1956): Aufgaben und Methoden in der Vegetationskunde. In: H. Walter, Einführung in die Phytologie IV/1, Stuttgart.
  • Ellenberg H., Weber H.E., Dull R., Wirth V., Werner W. & Paulissen D. (1992): Zeigerwerte von Pflanzen in Mitteleuropa. Scripta Geobotanica, 18: 1-248.
  • Gauch H.G. & Whittaker R.H. (1981): Hierarchical classification of community data. Journal of Ecology, 69: 537-557.
  • Hill M.O. (1979): TWINSPAN: A FORTRAN Program for Arranging Multivariate Data in an Ordered Two-way Table by Classification of the Individuals and Attributes. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
  • Hill M.O. & Gauch H.G. (1980): Detrended correspondence analysis: An improved ordination technique. Vegetatio, 42: 47-58.
  • Mueller-Dombois D. & Ellenberg H. (1974): Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, New York, Chichester, Brisbane, Toronto.
This approach is considered to be more quantitative than Braun-Blanquet scale estimating just species cover, and “has been applied widely in investigating pastures and tall-grass stands for their feed value” (Mueller-Dombois & Ellenberg 1974, p. 64).
classified into a group D here
In original table (Tab. 9.7 in M-D & E 1974) were some values recorded as <8 - these values were arbitrarily replaced by 5.
en/data/danube.txt · Last modified: 2019/02/02 12:56 by David Zelený