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A multi-scale, hierarchical, ecoregional and floristic classification of arid and semi arid ephemeral wetlands in New South Wales, Australia
Describing, classifying and quantifying vegetation communities is fundamental for understanding their current distribution, rarity, interrelationships, and ecosystem functions. In this study, we apply a consistent objective classification system for ephemeral wetlands of arid and semi-arid areas of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Our approach uses a two-step statistically-based, hierarchical, multi-scale classification of environmental data at broad-scales and floristics data at intermediate-scales. At broad-scales ecoregionalization methods were used to describe three wetland macrogroups. Within these groups, we performed unsupervised analyses of 640 floristic survey plots using the Bray-Curtis algorithm, clustering via group averaging and testing of clusters using SIMPROF. From this we delineated 18 vegetation groups with class definition based on a combination of diagnostic and non-diagnostic SIMPER outputs and dominant taxa. We show that a consistent classification system can be effectively created for subsets of vegetation that have adequate plot data within a general matrix that is poorly sampled if outputs are restricted to appropriate scales of resolution. We suggest that our approach provides a stable and robust classification system that can be added to as more data becomes available.
MF17006 Accepted 18 September 2017
© CSIRO 2017