Standard survey designs drive bias in the mapping of upland swamp communities

Tierney, D. A., Fletcher, A. T. and Erskine, P. D. (2015) Standard survey designs drive bias in the mapping of upland swamp communities. Austral Ecology, 40 7: 782-793. doi:10.1111/aec.12253

Author Tierney, D. A.
Fletcher, A. T.
Erskine, P. D.
Title Standard survey designs drive bias in the mapping of upland swamp communities
Journal name Austral Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1442-9993
Publication date 2015-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/aec.12253
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 40
Issue 7
Start page 782
End page 793
Total pages 12
Place of publication Richmond, VIC Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Language eng
Abstract Vegetation maps are critical biodiversity planning instruments, but the classification of vegetation for mapping can be strongly biased by survey design. Standardization of survey design across different vegetation types is therefore increasingly recommended for vegetation mapping programs. However, some vegetation types have complex small-scale vegetation patterns that are important in characterizing these vegetation types, and standard designs will often not capture these patterns. The objective of this paper was to investigate the magnitude of potential map bias that results from survey design standardization and recommend approaches to deal with this bias. We surveyed upland swamps of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Australia using two contrasting survey designs, including the standard 400 m2 single quadrat design recommended and used by authorities. We then derived a classification for these swamps and tested the effect of survey design on this classification, species richness and the type of species detected (obligate or facultative swamp species). Species richness and species type were not significantly different among survey techniques. However, more than 40% of swamps clustered differently among survey designs. Thus, one of the 10 derived communities (which is floristically consistent with a previously mapped endangered community) was indistinct, and some individual swamps misclassified using the standard survey design. An effect of landscape position on swamp floristic patterns and a significant trend for high similarity scores among swamps surveyed with multiple small quadrats compared to the standard survey design was also determined. Australian upland swamps are classified at the global scale as shrub-dominated wetlands, and complex floristic patterns have been recorded in shrub-dominated wetlands in both northern and southern hemispheres. We therefore advocate either multiple survey designs or different survey standards for upland swamp communities and other vegetation types that have complex floristic patterns at small scales.
Keyword Bias
Spatial scale
Survey design
Vegetation classification
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Publications
Official 2016 Collection
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