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Common plants as indicators of habitat suitability for rare plants; quantifying the strength of the association between threatened plants and their neighbours

Smart, S.M.; Jarvis, S.; Walker, K.J.; Henrys, P.A.; Pescott, O.L.; Marrs, R.H.. 2015 Common plants as indicators of habitat suitability for rare plants; quantifying the strength of the association between threatened plants and their neighbours. New Journal of Botany, 5 (2). 72-88. 10.1179/2042349715Y.0000000011

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Abstract/Summary

Rare plants are vulnerable to environmental change but easy to over-look during survey. Methods are therefore needed that can provide early warnings of population change and identify potentially suitable vegetation that could support new or previously overlooked populations. We developed an indicator species approach based on quantifying the association between rare plants across their British ecological range and their suite of more common neighbours. We combined quadrat data, targeted on six example species selected from the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland's Threatened Plant Project (TPP), with representative survey data from across Britain. Bayes Theorem was then used to calculate the probability that the rare species would occur given the presence of an associated species that occurred at least once with the rare species in the TPP quadrats. These values can be interpreted as indicators of habitat suitability rather than expectations of species presence. Probability values for each neighbour species are calculated separately and are therefore unaffected by biased recording of other species. The method can still be applied if only a subset of species is recorded, for example, where weaker botanists record a pre-selected subset of more easily identifiable neighbour species. Disadvantages are that the method is constrained by the availability of quadrats currently targeted on rare species and results are influenced by any recording biases associated with existing quadrat data.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1179/2042349715Y.0000000011
CEH Sections: Parr
Pywell
ISSN: 2042-3497
Additional Keywords: Bayes theorem, biodiversity, conservation, global change, habitat assessment
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Botany
Date made live: 09 Nov 2015 15:40 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/512156

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