Species richness in vascular vegetation of the West Head, New South Wales


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    We present data on vascular plant species richness, at the 0.1 ha scale and below, of sclerophyll vegetation on infertile sandstone, and some neighbouring types, in a non‐mediterranean climate area of temperate, east coast Australia The vegetation of sandstone is richer in species than is that of a permanently wet swamp (18/0.1 ha) or of more fertile soils (36, s.d.‐ 2). On sandstone, woodlands on moderate benched slopes (77, s.d. = 9) are richer in species than are the scrubs found on skeletal (56, s.d.= 7) or impeded drainage (48, s.d.= 8) soils, and this difference appears in the species‐area curve from 100 m2 up. Species richness of the sandstone vegetation, like its growth‐form mix, is very similar to species richness of South African fynbos and southwestern Australian heath. which supports the idea that the community properties of this sort of vegetation are not determined by climate but are determined by soils. The strong contrast in species richness, noted by Naveh & Whittaker (1979), between the mediterranean‐climate vegetation of South Africa and southwestern Australia on the one hand, and California and Israel on the other, need not be attributed to different evolutionary histories of the floras. The present environment, in the form of the soil factor, could well be the main determinant.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-168
    Number of pages6
    JournalAustralian Journal of Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1983


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