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A Classification of Subantarctic Heard Island Vegetation

Dana M. Bergstrom, Jennie Whinam and Lee Belbin
Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
Vol. 34, No. 2 (May, 2002), pp. 169-177
DOI: 10.2307/1552468
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1552468
Page Count: 9
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A Classification of Subantarctic Heard Island Vegetation
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Abstract

The vascular and bryophyte floras of subantarctic Heard Island were classified using cluster analysis into six vegetation communities: Open Cushion Carpet, Mossy Feldmark, Wet Mixed Herbfield, Coastal Biotic Vegetation, Saltspray Vegetation, and Closed Cushion Carpet. Multidimensional scaling indicated that the vegetation communities were not well delineated but were continua. Discriminant analysis and a classification tree identified altitude, wind, peat depth, bryophyte cover and extent of bare ground, and particle size as discriminating variables. The combination of small area, glaciation, and harsh climate has resulted in reduced vegetation variety in comparison to those subantarctic islands north of the Antarctic Polar Front Zone. Some of the functional groups and vegetation communities found on warmer subantarctic islands are not present on Heard Island, notably ferns and sedges and fernbrakes and extensive mires, respectively.

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