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Journal Article

Floristic Quality Indices for Biotic Assessment of Depressional Marsh Condition in Florida

Matthew J. Cohen, Susan Carstenn and Charles R. Lane
Ecological Applications
Vol. 14, No. 3 (Jun., 2004), pp. 784-794
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Ecological Society of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4493580
Page Count: 11

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Topics: Wetlands, Plants, Taxa, Marshes, Botany, Species, Land use, Ecoregions, Coefficients, Conservatism
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Floristic Quality Indices for Biotic Assessment of Depressional Marsh Condition in Florida
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Abstract

Evaluation of wetland ecological condition requires quantitative biological indices for measuring anthropogenic impairment. We implemented a modified floristic quality assessment index (FQAI) protocol for 75 isolated, depressional herbaceous wetland systems, exploring refinements of FQAI standard methods. Species encountered during sampling (n = 397) were assigned coefficients of conservatism (CC) by ten expert botanists working independently. A quantitative summary metric of adjacent site buffer (up to 100 m) land use intensity, called the landscape development intensity (LDI) index, was calculated for each wetland system to quantify expected anthropogenic impairment. The association between LDI and wetland community mean CC scores was strong and conditionally independent of ecoregion. Weaker associations with LDI were observed for other community summary metrics, including richness-weighted FQAI. We inverted LDI to compute an intensity coefficient (IC), which quantifies observed buffer development intensity tolerated by each species. IC scores were significantly associated with CC scores on a species basis and strongly associated on a site mean basis. Growing interest in floristic quality assessment for regulatory purposes provides opportunities for formally linking expert opinion and ground observations of species-specific disturbance tolerance.

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