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The plant communities of Macquarie Island: Mappable entities or pareidolic illusions?


Bricher, PK, The plant communities of Macquarie Island: Mappable entities or pareidolic illusions?, School of Geography & Environmental Studies Conference 2011, 28-29 June 2011, Hobart, pp. x-x. (2011) [Conference Extract]


Mapping plant communities is core business for many geographers and conservation ecologists. However a troubling assumption underpins these maps and it frequently remains unexamined, despite almost a century of criticism. Are the communities real, discrete assemblages that can be expected to respond to environmental change uniformly and therefore be treated as valis scientific units? Instability and ambiguity in community definitions pose serious problems when such maps are used to measure the ecological impacts of environmental change or management interventions. On Macquarie Island, researchers have historically defined plant communities in conflicting ways. Tall tussock vegetation on the coastal slopes might constitute a single community, ot three, or seven, or nine. We examined the capacity of statistical clustering tools to distinguish floristic communities on the basis of a large, stratified-random dataset, and the stability of the resulting clusters. We were unable to produce stable clusters and suggest that mapping individual species is more likely to be useful gor detecting changes in vegetation patterns.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:vegetation mapping
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Bricher, PK (Dr Pip Bricher)
ID Code:70693
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2011-07-01
Last Modified:2011-07-01

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