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Reliability of Vegetation Community Information Derived using Decorana Ordination and Fuzzy c-means Clustering

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Geographic Uncertainty in Environmental Security

Descriptions of vegetation communities are often based on vague semantic terms describing species presence and dominance. For this reason, some researchers advocate the use of fuzzy sets in the statistical classification of plant species data into communities. In this study, spatially referenced vegetation abundance values collected from Greek phrygana were analysed by ordination (DECORANA), and classified on the resulting axes using fuzzy c-means to yield a point data-set representing local memberships in characteristic plant communities. The fuzzy clusters matched vegetation communities noted in the field, which tended to grade into one another, rather than occupying discrete patches. The fuzzy set representation of the community exploited the strengths of detrended correspondence analysis while retaining richer information than a TWINSPAN classification of the same data. Thus, in the absence of phytosociological benchmarks, meaningful and manageable habitat information could be derived from complex, multivariate species data. We also analysed the influence of the reliability of different surveyors’ field observations by multiple sampling at a selected sample location. We show that the impact of surveyor error was more severe in the Boolean than the fuzzy classification.

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Bastin, L., Fisher, P., Bacon, M.C., Arnot, C., Hughes, M.J. (2007). Reliability of Vegetation Community Information Derived using Decorana Ordination and Fuzzy c-means Clustering. In: Morris, A., Kokhan, S. (eds) Geographic Uncertainty in Environmental Security. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6438-8_4

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