Multiple analyses redirect management and restoration priorities for a critically endangered ecological community
Accurately assessing community diversity patterns across distributional ranges is critically important for informed and effective management of ecological communities. Yet, for many wide-ranging communities diversity patterns across broad ranges are poorly known. We apply a range of analytical approaches to an extensively studied ecological community to determine the relative utility and complementarity of these analytical approaches and their applicability for improved management. White Box Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland (herein abbreviated to BGW) occurs across seven bioregions in New South Wales, eastern Australia. Previous work has suggested either small levels of regional variation in floristic patterns or, contrastingly, up to ~80 variants determined by expert-driven assessment. We undertook floristic survey and analysed floristic patterns using multivariate dispersion, diversity metrics (alpha (α) diversity, beta (β) diversity, gamma (γ) diversity and zeta (ζ) diversity; including assessments of β turnover and nestedness and higher order ζ diversity). Expert-derived BGW variants were not clearly related to patterns of floristic variation. In this study, multivariate interactions were critical to identifying patterns of floristic variation. ζ diversity provided insights into bioregional variation not detected via other analytics and was more robust to unbalanced data than β diversity. However, β diversity provided important insights, detecting changing community patterns within a bioregion that would otherwise not be detected and allowing for some comparison of our results with other studies. This study highlights the value of applying multiple analytical approaches to the understanding of floristic patterns. Conservation of floristic diversity in BGW requires protection and management across its range, something which has not previously been adequately addressed.
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Australian Research Council