A Modified-Whittaker nested vegetation sampling method
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
A standardized sampling technique for measuring plant diversity is needed to assist in resource inventories and for monitoring long-term trends in vascular plant species richness. The widely used ‘Whittaker plot’ (Shmida 1984) collects species richness data at multiple spatial scales, using 1 m2, 10 m2, and 100 m2 subplots within a 20 m × 50 m (1000 m2) plot, but it has three distinct design flaws involving the shape and placement of subplots. We modified and tested a comparable sampling design (Modified-Whittaker plot) that minimizes the problems encountered in the original Whittaker design, while maintaining many of its attractive attributes. We overlaid the two sampling methods in forest and prairie vegetation types in Larimer County, Colorado, USA (n=13 sites) and Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA (n=19 sites) and showed that the modified design often returned significantly higher (p<0.05) species richness values in the 1 m2, 10 m2, and 100 m2 subplots. For all plots, except seven ecotone plots, there was a significant difference (p<0.001) between the Whittaker plot and the Modified-Whittaker plot when estimating the total number of species in the 1000 m2 plots based on linear regressions of the subplot data: the Whittaker plot method, on average, underestimated plant species richness by 34%. Species-area relationships, using the Modified-Whittaker design, conformed better to published semilog relationships, explaining, on average, 92% of the variation. Using the original Whittaker design, the semilog species-area relationships were not as strong, explaining only 83% of the variation, on average. The Modified-Whittaker plot design may allow for better estimates of mean species cover, analysis of plant diversity patterns at multiple spatial scales, and trend analysis from monitoring a series of strategically-placed, long-term plots.
- Baker W.L. 1990. Species richness of Colorado riparian vegetation. J. Veg. Sci. 1: 119–124.
- Barbour M.G., Burk J.H. & Pitts W.D. 1987. Terrestrial Plant Ecology. Second Edition Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Menlo Park, California.
- Bormann F.H. 1953. The statistical efficiency of sample plot size and shape in forest ecology. Ecology 34: 474–487.
- Dallmeier F. 1992 (ed.) Long-term Monitoring of Biological Diversity in Tropical Forest Areas: Methods For Establishment and Inventory of Permanent Plots. MAB Digest 11. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris, France.
- Fortin M., Drapeau P. & Legendre P. 1989. Spatial autocorrelation and sampling design in plant ecology. Vegetatio 83: 209–222.
- Heltshe J.F. & Forrester N.E. 1983. Estimating species richness using the jackknife procedure. Biometrics 39: 1–12.
- Magurran A.E. 1988. Ecological Diversity and Its Measurement. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
- Miller R.I. & Wiegert R.G. 1989. Documenting completeness, species-area relations, and the species-abundance distribution of a regional flora. Ecology 70: 16–22.
- Mueller-Dombois D. & Ellenberg H. 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
- Nevah Z. & Whittaker R.H. 1979. Structural and floristic diversity of shrublands and woodlands in northern Israel and other Mediterranean areas. Vegetatio 41: 171–190.
- Palmer M.W. 1990. The estimation of species richness by extrapolation. Ecology 71: 1195–1198.
- Palmer M.W. 1991. Estimating species richness: the second-order jackknife reconsidered. Ecology 72: 1512–1513.
- Peters R.L. & Lovejoy T.E. 1992. Global Warming and Biological Diversity. Yale University Press, London.
- Pielou E.C. 1977. Mathematical Ecology. pp. 285–290. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.
- Podani J., Czárán T. & Bartha S. 1993. Pattern, area and diversity: the importance of spatial scale in species assemblages. Abstracta Botanica 17: 37–51.
- Rice B. & Westoby M. 1983. Plant species richness at the 0.1 hectare scale in Australian vegetation compared to other continents. Vegetatio 52: 129–140.
- Scott J.M., Davis F., Csuti R., Noss R., Butterfield B., Groves C., Anderson H., Caicco S., D'Erchia F., DewardsJr. T.C., Ulliman J. & Wright R.G. 1993. GAP Analysis: a geographic approach to protection of biological diversity. Wildlife Monographs 123: 1–41.
- Shafer C.L. 1990. Nature reserves: Island theory and conservation practice. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, DC. pp. 189.
- Shmida A. 1984. Whittaker's plant diversity sampling method. Israel Journal of Botany 33: 41–46.
- Stohlgren T.J. 1994. Planning long-term vegetation studies at landscape scales. pp. 209–241. In: Ecological Time Series. Powell T.M. & Steele J.H. (eds) Chapman & Hall, New York. (In Press).
- Stohlgren T.J. & Quinn J.F. 1992. An assessment of biotic inventories in western US national parks. Natural Areas Journal 12: 145–154.
- Stohlgren T.J., Quinn J.F., Ruggiero M. & Waggoner G. 1993. Status of biotic inventories in US National Parks. Biological Conservation 71: 97–106.
- Soulé M.E. & Kohm K.A. 1989. Research Priorities for Conservation Biology. Island Press. Washington, DC.
- Tilman D. & Downing J.A. 1994. Biodiversity and stability in grasslands. Nature 367: 363–365.
- Whittaker R.H. 1977. Evolution of species diversity on land communities. Evolutionary Biology 10: 1–67.
- Whittaker R.H., Niering W.A. & Crisp M.O. 1979. Structure, pattern, and diversity of a mallee community in New South Wales. Vegetatio 39: 65–76.
- Wilson E.O. 1988. Biodiversity. National Academy Press. Washington, DC.
- Zar J.H. 1974. Biostatistical analysis. Prentice-Hall. New Jersey.
- A Modified-Whittaker nested vegetation sampling method
Volume 117, Issue 2 , pp 113-121
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- Nested sampling techniques
- Plant species richness
- Species-area curves
- Species diversity
- Author Affiliations
- 1. National Biological Service, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, 80523, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
- 2. Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, 80523, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA