Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity.
It may be the mature vegetation type in a particular region and remain stable over time, or a transitional community that occurs temporarily as the result of a disturbance, such as fire.
A stable state may be maintained by regular natural disturbance such as fire or browsing.
Shrubland may be unsuitable for human habitation because of the danger of fire.
The term was coined in 1903.
Botanical structural form
Tall shrubs are mostly 2–8 m high, small shrubs 1–2 m high and subshrubs less than 1 m high.
A descriptive system widely adopted in Australia to describe different types of vegetation is based on structural characteristics based on plant life-form, plus the height and foliage cover of the tallest stratum or dominant species.
For shrubs 2–8 m high the following structural forms result:
- dense foliage cover (70–100%) — closed-scrub
- mid-dense foliage cover (30–70%) — open-scrub
- very sparse foliage cover (<10%) — tall open shrubland
For shrubs <2 m high the following structural forms result:
- dense foliage cover (70–100%) — closed-heath
- mid-dense foliage cover (30–70%) — open-heath
- sparse foliage cover (10–30%) — low shrubland
- very sparse foliage cover (<10%) — low open shrubland
Biome plant group
Similarly, shrubland is a category used to describe a type of biome plant group.
In this context, shrublands are dense thickets of evergreen sclerophyll shrubs and small trees, called:
- Chaparral in California
- Matorral in Chile, Mexico, and Spain
- Maquis in France and elsewhere around the Mediterranean
- Macchia in Italy
- Fynbos in South Africa
- Cumberland Plain Woodland in Sydney, Australia
- Kwongan in Southwest Australia
- Cedar scrub in Texas Hill Country
A number of World Wildlife Fund biomes are characterized as shrublands, including:
Xeric or desert scrublands occur in the world's deserts and xeric shrublands ecoregions, or in areas of fast-draining sandy soils in more humid regions.
These scrublands are characterized by plants with adaptations to the dry climate, which include small leaves to limit water loss, thorns to protect them from grazing animals, succulent leaves or stems, storage organs to store water, and long taproots to reach groundwater.
Scrublands are most common near the seacoast, and have often adapted to the wind and salt air of the ocean.
Northern coastal scrub and coastal sage scrub occur along the California coast, strandveld in the Western Cape of South Africa, coastal matorral in central Chile, and sand-heath and kwongan in Southwest Australia.
Florida scrub is another example of interior scrublands.
Some vegetation types are formed of dwarf-shrubs: low-growing or creeping shrubs.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrubland.