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The influence of linear elements on plant species diversity of Mediterranean rural landscapes: Assessment of different indices and statistical approaches

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

Abstract

This paper mainly aims to study the linear element influence on the estimation of vascular plant species diversity in five Mediterranean landscapes modeled as land cover patch mosaics. These landscapes have several core habitats and a different set of linear elements -habitat edges or ecotones, roads or railways, rivers, streams and hedgerows on farm land- whose plant composition were examined. Secondly, it aims to check plant diversity estimation in Mediterranean landscapes using parametric and non-parametric procedures, with two indices: Species richness and Shannon index. Land cover types and landscape linear elements were identified from aerial photographs. Their spatial information was processed using GIS techniques. Field plots were selected using a stratified sampling design according to relieve and tree density of each habitat type. A 50 x 20 m(2) multi-scale sampling plot was designed for the core habitats and across the main landscape linear elements. Richness and diversity of plant species were estimated by comparing the observed field data to ICE (Incidence-based Coverage Estimator) and ACE (Abundance-based Coverage Estimator) non-parametric estimators. The species density, percentage of unique species, and alpha diversity per plot were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in linear elements than in core habitats. ICE estimate of number of species was 32% higher than of ACE estimate, which did not differ significantly from the observed values. Accumulated species richness in core habitats together with linear elements, were significantly higher than those recorded only in the core habitats in all the landscapes. Conversely, Shannon diversity index did not show significant differences.

Author(s): Del Barrio, JMG; Ortega, M; Vazquez De la Cueva, A; Elena-Rossello, R

Journal: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

Year: 2006

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