Ecological assessment of plant communities by reference to species traits and habitat preferences
Author: Critchley C.N.R.
Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 9, Number 1, January 2000 , pp. 87-105(19)
Where vegetation is managed for nature conservation, results should be assessed against criteria linked to the objectives of management. An assessment method is presented in which the goal vegetation was defined as a specific biotope limited by a set of biophysical conditions. Vegetation was sampled from field boundary strips intended for the conservation of arable plant communities. Species suited to the specified conditions (suited species) were defined by applying rule sets to a matrix of species with their traits and habitat preferences, compiled from a range of data sources. The proportional contribution of suited species to the total vegetation was calculated for each set of conditions. Scores for each condition (suited species scores) were combined to provide overall comparative site values representing the extent to which the goal vegetation was established. There was close correlation with results of a previous assessment by expert opinion poll. Variation between sites in soil type and cultivation frequency was reflected by differences in individual suited species scores. Ideally, suited species selection would be by traits alone but currently there are insufficient data available. The method is readily applicable to other vegetation types.
Document Type: Regular paper
Publication date: 2000-01-01