Expert allocation of primary growth form to the New South Wales flora underpins the biodiversity assessment method

Ian Oliver*, Megan J. McNellie, Greg Steenbeeke, Lachlan Copeland, Marianne F. Porteners, Julian Wall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Biodiversity values under the New South Wales (NSW) Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 are assessed in part according to the number and cover of native plant species within each of six growth form groups (trees, shrubs, grasses and grass-like, forbs, ferns, and others). Here we revise 19 growth form descriptions and use an independent expert process to allocate the most common (primary) growth form to the native terrestrial vascular plant flora of NSW. Independent allocations made by three botanists concurred for 6,153 taxa (84.7 per cent of the flora) and the remaining 1,112 taxa were resolved via a structured consensus making process. Allocation of each taxon to primary growth form has generated a single point of reference for the most common growth form for each native vascular plant species, expressed in its mature state across the extent of its range in NSW. The work presented here was undertaken to support transparent, repeatable and rigorous assessments of the richness and cover of growth form groups for the NSW Biodiversity Assessment Method. However, our approach and findings will be relevant to any government agency, industry group or researcher that uses plant growth forms to simplify ecological complexity or to assess the site-scale biodiversity values of terrestrial vegetation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-136
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Journal of Environmental Management
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

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