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  • 1 Queensland Herbarium, Mt. Coot-tha Road, Toowong, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Government, QLD 4066, Australia
  • | 2 James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
  • | 3 James Cook University, P.O. Box 6811, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
  • | 4 UNSW Australia, NSW 2052, Australia
  • | 5 New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW 1232, Australia
Open access

Plant communities in extensive landscapes are often mapped remotely using detectable patterns based on vegetation structure and canopy species with a high relative cover. A plot-based classification which includes species with low relative canopy cover and ignores vegetation structure, may result in plant communities not easily reconcilable with the landscape patterns represented in mapping. In our study, we investigate the effects on classification outcomes if we (1) remove rare species based on canopy cover, and (2) incorporate vegetation structure by weighting species’ cover by different measures of vegetation height. Using a dataset of 101 plots of savanna vegetation in north-eastern Australia we investigated first, the effect of removing rare species using four cover thresholds (1, 5, 8 and 10% contribution to total cover) and second, weighting species by four height measures including actual height as well as continuous and categorical transformations. Using agglomerative hierarchical clustering we produced a classification for each dataset and compared them for differences in: patterns of plot similarity, clustering, species richness and evenness, and characteristic species. We estimated the ability of each classification to predict species cover using generalised linear models. We found removing rare species at any cover threshold produced characteristic species appearing to correspond to landscape scale changes and better predicted species cover in grasslands and shrublands. However, in woodlands it made no difference. Using actual height of vegetation layer maintained vegetation structure, emphasised canopy and then sub-canopy species in clustering, and predicted species cover best of the height-measures tested. Thus, removing rare species and weighting species by height are useful techniques for identifying plant communities from plot-based classifications which are conceptually consistent with those in landscape scale mapping. This increases the confidence of end-users in both the classifications and the maps, thus enhancing their use in land management decisions.

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Manuscript submission: COMEC Manuscript Submission


Senior editors

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Podani, János

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jordán, Ferenc

Honorary Editor(s): Orlóci, László

Editorial Board

  • Madhur Anand, CAN (forest ecology, computational ecology, and ecological complexity)
  • S. Bagella, ITA (temporal dynamics, including succession, community level patterns of species richness and diversity, experimental studies of plant, animal and microbial communities, plant communities of the Mediterranean)
  • P. Batáry, HUN (landscape ecology, agroecology, ecosystem services)
  • P. A. V. Borges, PRT (community level patterns of species richness and diversity, sampling in theory and practice)
  • A. Davis, GER (supervised learning, multitrophic interactions, food webs, multivariate analysis, ecological statistics, experimental design, fractals, parasitoids, species diversity, community assembly, ticks, biodiversity, climate change, biological networks, cranes, olfactometry, evolution)
  • Z. Elek, HUN (insect ecology, invertebrate conservation, population dynamics, especially of long-term field studies, insect sampling)
  • T. Kalapos, HUN (community level plant ecophysiology, grassland ecology, vegetation-soil relationship)
  • G. M. Kovács, HUN (microbial ecology, plant-fungus interactions, mycorrhizas)
  • W. C. Liu,TWN (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, temporal dynamics, including succession, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment)
  • L. Mucina, AUS (vegetation survey, syntaxonomy, evolutionary community ecology, assembly rules, global vegetation patterns, mediterranean ecology)
  • P. Ódor, HUN (plant communities, bryophyte ecology, numerical methods)
  • F. Rigal, FRA (island biogeography, macroecology, functional diversity, arthropod ecology)
  • D. Rocchini, ITA (biodiversity, multiple scales, spatial scales, species distribution, spatial ecology, remote sensing, ecological informatics, computational ecology)
  • F. Samu, HUN (landscape ecology, biological control, generalist predators, spiders, arthropods, conservation biology, sampling methods)
  • U. Scharler, ZAF (ecological networks, food webs, estuaries, marine, mangroves, stoichiometry, temperate, subtropical)
  • D. Schmera, HUN (aquatic communities, functional diversity, ecological theory)
  • M. Scotti, GER (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment, ecological networks)
  • B. Tóthmérész, HUN (biodiversity, soil zoology, spatial models, macroecology, ecological modeling)
  • S. Wollrab, GER (aquatic ecology, food web dynamics, plankton ecology, predator-prey interactions)


Advisory Board

  • S. Bartha, HUN
  • S.L. Collins, USA
  • T. Czárán, HUN
  • E. Feoli, ITA
  • N. Kenkel, CAN
  • J. Lepš, CZE
  • S. Mazzoleni, ITA
  • Cs. Moskát, HUN
  • B. Oborny, HUN
  • M.W. Palmer, USA
  • G.P. Patil, USA
  • V. de Patta Pillar, BRA
  • C. Ricotta, ITA
  • Á. Szentesi, HUN



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Community Ecology
Language English
Size A4
Year of
per Year
per Year
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland Gewerbestrasse 11.
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)