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Biodiversity assessment: a case study in predicting richness from the potential distributions of plant species in the forests of south-western Australia

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Distributions were predicted for 1430 native plant species as part of a biodiversity assessment in the forests of south-west Western Australia. From these predicted distributions, an index of plant species richness was generated for the forest area. The most common predictors for distribution were found to be climatic surfaces incorporating some aspect of seasonality in temperature and precipitation. Although coarse, the index confirmed existing knowledge of areas of high biodiversity within the study area and introduced a new area, the Blackwood Plateau, for consideration as a conservation reserve with high species richness. An additional survey was conducted to sample actual species richness in 11 test sites. When actual richness was regressed against predicted richness, a significant correlation was obtained if both annuals and geophytes were excluded from the analysis. With refinement of the model and further data collection targeted at areas of low effort, the species richness index is proposed as a useful tool for conservation planning.
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Keywords: Predictive distribution mapping; conservation planning; species richness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia, 6983, Email:, Email: [email protected] 2: Keith Turnbull Research Institute, Agriculture Victoria, PO Box 48, Frankston, Victoria 3199 Australia, Email:, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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