Abstract. A case study is presented on the statistical analysis and interpretation of vegetation change in a wetland subjected to water extraction and acidification, without precise information on the environmental changes. The vegetation is a Junco‐Molinion grassland and the changes in vegetation are evaluated on the basis of relevés in 1977 and 1988 of 20 plots in a small nature reserve on moist oligotrophic, Pleistocene sands in the Netherlands. The changes are attributed to water extraction (since 1972) and soil acidification and the effect of the environmental changes on the vegetation is inferred from data on water depth and acidity collected in 1988. Many species typical of wetlands decreased in abundance, including rare species such as Parnassia palustris, Selinum carvifolia and Ophioglossum vulgatum. Some species increased, notably Anthoxanthum odoratum, Holcus lanatus and Plantago lanceolata. A significant decrease was found in the mean Ellenberg indicator values for moisture and acidity. The mean indicator value for nutrients did not change significantly. Multivariate analysis of the species data by Redundancy Analysis demonstrated the overall significance of the change in species composition between 1977 and 1988 (P < 0.01, Monte Carlo permutation). The spatial and temporal variation in the species data was displayed in ordination diagrams and interpreted in terms of water depth and pH. A simple model is developed to infer the change in water depth and pH from the relevé data and recent data on water depth and pH. Because the correlation between water depth and pH made a joint estimation of the changes useless, the change in pH was estimated for a series of likely changes in water depth. For the most likely change in water depth, significant acidification was inferred from the change in vegetation. The model is more generally applicable as a constrained calibration method.
Journal of Vegetation Science – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1994
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