Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Just Accepted

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A multi-scale, hierarchical, ecoregional and floristic classification of arid and semi arid ephemeral wetlands in New South Wales, Australia

John Hunter , Alex Lechner


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