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Plant Species Richness at the 0.1 Hectare Scale in Australian Vegetation Compared to Other Continents

B. Rice and M. Westoby
Vegetatio
Vol. 52, No. 3 (Jun. 21, 1983), pp. 129-140
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20037199
Page Count: 12
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Plant Species Richness at the 0.1 Hectare Scale in Australian Vegetation Compared to Other Continents
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Abstract

New data are reported, and literature data compiled, for species richness in 0.1 ha plots in Australian vegetation. We conclude that on present evidence the same vegetation types are rich, and the same types poor, at a 0.1 ha scale, in Australia as elsewhere. Tropical rainforest averages 140 species per 0.1 ha in permanently humid types. Temperate sclerophyll shrub-dominated types on low-nutrient soils are generally in the range 50-100 species, with open woodlands somewhat richer than scrublands. Warm semi-desert shrublands can have 50-80 species, counting ephemerals both of summer and of winter. Temperate closed forests generally have fewer than 50 species per 0.1 ha. For none of these types is there clear evidence that they are richer or poorer in species at a 0.1 ha scale than types in similar environments with similar growth-form mixes on other continents. We give data for grassy woodlands and sclerophyll scrublands in the monsoonal tropics; the fragments of data on such types available from other continents suggest there may be a wide range of species richness in sub-types of this very broad grouping. Generally, available data do not support the idea that floristic evolutionary history is a strong influence on the species richness of vegetation at the 0.1 ha scale, relative to the influence of the present-day climatic and soil environment.

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