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Type: Journal article
Title: Floristic and structural assessment of Australian rangeland vegetation with standardized plot-based surveys
Author: Baruch, Z.
Caddy-Retalic, S.
Guerin, G.
Sparrow, B.
Leitch, E.
Tokmakoff, A.
Lowe, A.
Citation: PLoS ONE, 2018; 13(9):e0202073-1-e0202073-18
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Issue Date: 2018
ISSN: 1932-6203
Statement of
Zdravko Baruch, Stefan Caddy-Retalic, Greg R. Guerin, Ben Sparrow, Emrys Leitch, Andrew Tokmakoff, Andrew J. Lowe
Abstract: We describe and correlate environmental, floristic and structural vegetation traits of a large portion of Australian rangelands. We analysed 351 one hectare vegetation plots surveyed by Australia's Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) using the AusPlots Rangelands standardized method. The AusPlots Rangelands method involves surveying 1010 one meter-spaced point-intercepts (IPs) per plot. At each IP, species were scored, categorised by growth-form, converted to percentage cover as the input for the plot x species matrix. Vegetation structure is depicted by growth-form configuration and relative importance. The floristic and structural distance matrices were correlated with the Mantel test. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) related floristic composition to environmental variables sourced from WorldClim, the Atlas of Living Australia and TERN's Soil and Landscape Grid. Differences between clusters were tested with ANOVA while principal component analysis (PCA) ordered the plots within the environmental space. Our plot x species matrix required segmentation due to sparsity and high β-diversity. Based on the ordination of plots latitude within environmental space, the matrix was segmented into three "superclusters": the winter rain and temperate Mediterranean, the monsoonal rain savannas and the arid deserts. Further classification, with the UPGMA linkage method, generated two, four and five clusters, respectively. All groupings are described by species richness, diversity indices and growth form conformation. Several floristic disjunctions were apparent and their possible causes are discussed. For all superclusters, the correspondence between the floristic and the structural or growth form matrices was statistically significant. CCA ordination clearly demarcated all groupings. Aridity, rainfall, temperature, seasonality, soil nitrogen and pH are significant correlates to the ordination of superclusters and clusters. At present, our results are influenced by incomplete sampling. As more sites are surveyed, this pioneer analysis will be updated and refined providing tools for the effective management of Australian rangelands.
Keywords: Soil; Analysis of Variance; Environment; Conservation of Natural Resources; Ecosystem; Climate; Rain; Seasons; Species Specificity; Geography; Principal Component Analysis; Australia; Grassland; Magnoliopsida
Rights: © 2018 Baruch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
RMID: 0030098186
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202073
Appears in Collections:Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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