Sarah Whild`s presentation

Report
Axiophytes in the
landscape
(or – everything you wanted to know about axiophytes but
were afraid to ask...)
Sarah Whild1 , Alex Lockton2 , Jeremy Ison3 and Richard Aisbitt3
Division of Biology and Conservation Ecology, Manchester
Metropolitan University1,
Whild Associates/BSBI2,
School of Biosciences (University of Birmingham)3
Axiophytes (‘worthy’ plants or
ecological indicators) have been
used by the Botanical Society of
the British Isles (BSBI) as a way of
creating indicator species lists for
vice-counties throughout Britain
and Ireland
Axiophytes – what are they?
This innovative approach has allowed for
the creation of county indicator lists that
can be used for conservation planning
for sites and wider landscape use.
An axiophyte list for a county is
derived by taking all species that
were restricted to BAP habitats
(90% of records) and also found
in 25% or fewer tetrads in the
vice-county.
These axiophytes can then
be allocated to one or more
broad habitat types.
Axiophytes – what are they?
An exception to the 25% rule can be
made for species in conservation
habitats that are particularly well
represented and widespread in the
county.
Axiophytes have been used for:
Assessing wildlife sites
Site selection and monitoring
Prioritising sites for habitat restoration
Identifying landscape units for broadleaved tree planting
Using axiophytes for site selection
and monitoring in Devon and
Wiltshire:
• How effective are axiophytes as a measure of site
condition?
• Are significantly more axiophytes recorded for ‘high
quality’ sites than those of ‘low quality’ and can this
be used to discriminate between two sets of sites?
• Do grid squares containing designated sites have
significantly more axiophytes than those that do
not?
• Are individual axiophytes more likely to occur in
high quality sites than those of low quality
• Can coincidence maps of axiophytes allow for
targeted surveying at a landscape scale?
County Wildlife Sites (CWS) in Devon were
previously assessed using the Integrated
Habitat System (IHS) which does not require
any species identification.
CW sites were assessed without any empirical
evidence in the form of validated biological
records.
Broad habitat types
in Devon
Tetrad axiophyte
coincidence map
for Devon
1 - 10
11 - 20
21 - 30
31 - 40
41 - 50
51 - 60
61 - 70
71 - 80
81 - 164
A list of 416 axiophytes were identified for Devon
There are 2078 County Wildlife Sites and data were
analysed for 29 that were approved as CW Sites and 23
that had been rejected using the IHS scheme together
with a panel of local experts.
Figures suggested a threshold of 20 axiophytes would
be needed to qualify as a CW Site and this was used to
predict which sites would be accepted at the selection
panel meeting.
Two sites that would have been accepted by the
axiophyte method were rejected and six sites that
would have been rejected were accepted out of a total
of 41 sites.
A list of 311 axiophytes were identified for Wiltshire
Counts of axiophytes were compared across sites with
different levels of protection
SSSIs had an average of 46 axiophytes
WWT reserves had 45 (very close to SSSIs)
Unprotected CWTs had 24
From these figures it was relatively straight forward to
suggest a proposed cut-off point for designation for
SSSIs and also for CW Sites
A tetrad coincidence map of axiophytes for Wiltshire
suggested that axiophyte coincidence mapping could
be used to target ‘new’ sites that had not been
previously identified for conservation
Hot spots showed tetrads that stood out as having no
designated sites but high levels of axiophytes – thus
providing targets for survey
Using axiophytes for
conservation planning
The most important plant species
for the Meres and Mosses are
wetland species
The county recorders for
Shropshire, Cheshire and
Staffordshire drew up a list
of wetland axiophytes
typical of the meres and
mosses
Axiophytes of the
Meres and Mosses
123 species were
chosen including 18
bryophytes
A coincidence map of these species
was then produced in order to
highlight hotspots for restoration and
conservation
3 2
1
1 2
7
1 1
1
1
28
1
1 3
4
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
9
18
18
18 10 3
5 3
5 18 3
7
28
2
16
11
18
15
18
10
23
17
29
21
14
19
8
22
12
9
20
10
11
15
17
20
20
13
20
14
8
24
22
3
10
12
9
15
10
16
29
6
17
20
6
16
12
6
5
10 9 1
2 7 7
2 10 9
9 10
4
12 10
5
5 5 7
3
1
1
8
2
2
1
3
5
3 1
3
2
2 3 1 1
1
1
3
16
2
1
1 1
2 2
4 15 3
1
1
1 16 1
1
1
1
7
14
2
15 4 1
9 4 2 1
6 3 4
3
16 24 11 4 6 5
16 5 4 5 2 8 4
21 28 10 5 4 3 1
4 25 6 8 2 8 4
34 30 6 2 7 9 1
25 14 13 3 9 1 3
9 19 7 9 1 8 1
4 5 5 2 2 3 1
3 2
3 2 1
23 1 1 4 1 1 12
1 1
1
1 6
1 5
2 2
6 4
1 7
1
3 1 1
16
1
3
5
3
8
1
1
1 2
1 2
2
1 21
22
4
14
9
2 7
6 7
7 7
13 1
4 1
20
2 6
7 9
3 13
18 17
9 7
10 6
3 2
1
1 2
2 3
2 3
3 10
1
3 3
5
1
9 3
1
5
2 2
1 1
2 2 4
5 1
2
4
1 3
2
1
1
2 4 1 1
5 1 1
2 3 6 5 2
13 1 9 14 7
11 11 21 9 12
20 21 18 3 8
7 10 19 3
25 5 5 1 34
16 26 21 31 13
5 23 23 31 2
19 23 8 9 3
20 12 3 3 9
7 11 3 3 5
24 10 8 5 8
27 3 7 9
17
8
15
1 1
1 1 3 2 4
3 3 3 4 5
1 2 26 1
1
1
1
3
1
1
2
3
3 7 3
2
2
3 4
4
4
5
2
5 3
5 12 1
1
4
3
4
2 9 1
10
1
1
1
5
1
1
1
13
6 2
2 6 1
2 1 2
10 5 4
8 18 9
5 18 7
25 13 7
43 1 18
10 7 4
1 1 7
12 26 5
24 8 6
21 4 26
3 5 12
4 10 8
11 1 4
2 2
2 3 2
1 3 18
4 11
3 2
7
3 1 2
2 3 5 5 8
2
2
6 2
2
2
7
7
1
7
9
9
10
3
4
1
4
1
2
1
13
6
13
76
55
11
5
7
25
27
4
6
2
1
11
5
14
9
2 2
2
6
2
3
1
4
1
3
6
8 2
1 2
1
3 3
4 1
14
1 1
4
3 1
1 2
2
4 2
1
2 5
1 1
3
1
1
3 4
4 9
5
1
1
11
1 3
7
5 2
2 10
1
2 1
3 1 7
1 1
3
8 6 1 8
6 3 6 17
48 30 54 68
72 6 6 14
61 18 14 6
4 3 11 7
1 4 6 18
6 2
7
27 44 1 13
34 2 13 7
3 4 3 4
7 8 28 45
24 9 10 28
6 18 17 15
2 1 10 10
3 6 6 74
17 5 2 3
2 4 2 10
23 4 5 2
1
8
16
12
19
18
15
5
5
5
1
2
2
15
14
7
27
20
67
7
11 3 2 1
8 2 5 2
4
64
12 18 4
33
13 36 13
53 2
1 9 2
3 1
7 5
1 1
4 4
3 4
7 1
2
1 4 3
2 4
8 13
13 3
4 41 11 13 3
20 5 3
3
31 16 14
15 21 39 14
20 11 6 16 2
4 6 62 9 1
4 25 12 4 3
3 9 19 16 3
8 7 6 6 6
7 3 12 13
5 12 1 5
1 3 4 1 6
1 3 4 1
2
1
5
1 5 2
1
20 39 3 1
4 8 5 2 1
16 32 2 8 5
29 15 8 4 10
6 31 9
2
17 10 11
1
49 22 14 11 5
10 10 15 5 17
14 15
3 4
2
4
2
10
9
1
1
3
3
7
3
16
8
2
22
6
7
20
7
8
1
1
1
5
1
4
7
4
5
2
5
1
3
1
2
10
1
2
5
5
2
9
4
1
1
1
1
1
1
3
1
1
28
1
8
5
3
6
1
9
3 5
3
5
1 4
22
1 5
4 37
5
1 4
9
1 1
2
1 5
9
1 8
1 5
1
70 5 5
16 1
3
1 2
2
5
2
8
4
11
1
3
9
2
23
11
5
4
4
3
3
4
29
6
7
3
3 1 2 6
5 1 3 3
2 1 1 1
11 9 6
3 9 3 3
2 4 6 6
7 3 13
20 15 4 4
5 3
7 8 27 14
7 12 31 12
3
8
9
9
1
5
10
9
5
11
5
3
4
2
2
22
11
3
9
3
1
14
8
13
10
16
18
2
14
7
3
14
7
3
14
1
3
3
1
5
6 6
21
50 2
8 8
42
23 15
2 11
1
3 3
2
3
1
6 5
2 5
6
4
1 1
1
1
1
2
6 4 27 2
1 2 3
35
3 5 1
2 3 5
3 16
1
1 4 4
44 4 2 7
21 12 10 13
42 5 10 2
9 5 6 3
12 9 6 10
6 7 4 12
8 9 16 4
14 3 3 2
18 7 9 1
19 9 1
11 8 7 3
1 1 9 24
4 7 1 3
4 34
5 1 9 9
18 55 24 31
19 17 9 1
2 2 3 4
3 5
3 6
2 2 1 7
3
7 7
7
6 11
4 4
6
5 12 5
1
3
1
3
1 1 2
6 8
3 1
1 1 3
22 2 1
9 5
1
1 1 2 17 3
3
3 2 4
3
1 3 7 1
1 10 1
8 6
2 6
1 47 5 10
23 3 3
3 2 2
6
9 21 1
2 1 3 6 19 11
2 5
13 11 3 3
2
4 4 9 17 9
1 5 8 3 2 7 3
5 5 5 6 7 15 11
4 1 3 13 9 10 8
8 3 8 11 8 8 24
10 19 1 7 14 16 8
12 4 5 11 15 10 7
3
4 7 9 16 11
6
5 11 10 10 15
3 9 3 11 2 6 5
3 11 4 3 4 7 6
4 15 15 5 5 11
6 3 8 14 9 3 9
3 1 9 3 2 4
2 10 2 3 5 1 4
8 7 3 1 7 7 1
3 2 1 2 5 11 5
3 1 2 4 8 4
1 7 3 20 10 9 7
1 1 5 3 11 8 16
15 9 5 3 1 9 8
2 20 7 6
5 7
6 3
6 6 7
3 2 4 4 6 8 4
10 12 2 8 1 7 5
1 2 9 2 1 9 12
1
9 3 1 11 5
9 7 5 5 4 6 1
9 7 5 3 2 2 5
9 4 1 5 4 1 2
1
2
6
2
2
13
18
8
11
3
9
7
17
15
5
6
16
9
7
8
6
9
13
5
5
5
4
3
3
5
2
4
7
12
29
4
7
3
2
4
4
5
6
5
6
1
12
6
18
17
4
3
8
15
10
15
11
6
8
15
13
16
11
4
12
9
10
5
6
6
4
2
5
7
9
11
24
18
7
4
12
4
1
5
8
Sites were then ranked according
to total axiophyte species richness
across time
Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Total
76
74
72
70
68
67
64
62
61
55
55
54
53
50
49
48
47
45
44
44
Current
11
10
42
46
36
38
35
48
32
11
39
26
12
19
31
28
31
7
16
31
Decline
86%
86%
42%
34%
47%
43%
45%
23%
48%
80%
29%
52%
77%
62%
37%
42%
34%
84%
64%
30%
Key sites
The Mere, Ellesmere
Bomere Pool
Cole Mere
Wybunbury Moss
Whixall Moss
Bomere, Shomere & Betton Pools
Hatch Mere & Flaxmere
Brown Moss
Sweat Mere & Crose Mere
White Mere
Aqualate Mere
Wem Moss
Oak Mere
Rostherne Mere
Berrington Pool
Clarepool Moss & Newton Mere
Danes Moss
Hencott Pool
Fenemere
Balterley Heath
Taking the four sites with the
largest total decline in number of
species, we can give a more
detailed breakdown by date class,
showing variations in recording
effort.
DC0
DC1
DC2
DC3
DC4
DC5
Date class 1 DC1 (19301969) is noticeably underrecorded in all the sites but
the other date classes have
comparable recording effort.
<1929
1930-1969
1970-1986
1987-1999
2000-2009
2010 plus
70
40
60
35
30
No. axiophytes
No. axiophytes
50
40
30
20
25
20
15
10
10
5
0
0
0
1
2
3
4
0
The Mere, Ellesmere
1
2
3
4
Hencott Pool
60
40
35
50
40
No. axiophytes
No. axiophytes
30
30
20
25
20
15
10
10
5
0
0
0
1
2
Bomere Pool
3
4
0
1
2
White Mere
3
4
Taking the four sites with the
largest total decline in number of
species, we can give a more
detailed breakdown by date class,
showing variations in recording
effort.
But White Mere is
noticeably different,
with no change in the
number of axiophytes
between DC0 and DC2,
and no change between
DC3 and DC4.
Three of the sites have
broadly similar profiles, with
the number of axiophytes
decreasing by a factor of 2
between DC0 and DC2, and
again halving in number by
DC4.
This suggests that White Mere
retained its axiophytes until relatively
recently, and it has not deteriorated
noticeably in the recent past. This
could be justification for prioritising
resources on White Mere, as recent
changes are more likely to be
reversible.
50
45
No. axiophytes
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
0
1
2
3
4
Sweat Mere – a site that has remained
in favourable condition
What to do about
White Mere?
How do the axiophytes break
down into habitats?
Ancient
Recent
Bog
2
Carr
1
1
Grassland
4
1
Marginal
7
6
Open water
1
Woodland
1
16
Total
Present
total
2
3
5
5
9
22
2
3
2
12
15
11
26
53
Bog species have disappeared
completely (Andromeda polifolia)
Carr is in reasonable condition
Grassland disappeared long ago with a
mixture of species including calcicoles
Clinopodium acinos and marshier
species such as Triglochin palustris
Marginal species have been hit hard
with Schoenoplectus
tabernaemontani, Oenanthe aquatica
and Phragmites australis
Dry woodland is in favourable
condition
Most of these
species are light
loving species of
open, wetter
conditions so shade
has increased.
Remove trees from
the water’s edge in
appropriate places
and restore
marginal grazing
Target species
Baldellia ranunculoides
Bidens cernua
Carex rostrata
Cicuta virosa
Elatine hexandra
Littorella uniflora
Luronium natans
Oenanthe aquatica
Oenanthe fistulosa
Phragmites australis
Ranunculus lingua
Rumex hydrolapathum
Schoenoplectus lacustris
Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
Triglochin palustris
Conservation resources should be
focused on the sites with the greatest
number of these axiophytes, and the
greatest urgency is for sites where
there is a demonstrable decline
This can only be detected
retrospectively, so ‘evidence of a
recent loss of axiophytes’ is the
appropriate trigger for intervention.
White Mere is the site with the
highest and most recent decline
Axiophyte data tables can be used for
monitoring further changes in the
conservation status of the meres and
mosses.
The more frequently that the sites are
thoroughly surveyed, the more
powerful this technique becomes.
To maximise the potential of this sort
of analysis, all SSSIs should be
surveyed thoroughly at least once a
decade.
Axiophytes and Opportunities – a case study in working
with local partners with biological recording data
In 2006 the Forestry Commission asked
Shropshire County Council (now Shropshire
Council) if they could provide a Woodland
Opportunity map which highlighted areas that
were more, or less, sensitive to new woodland
planting.
The use of axiophytes to produce such a map
would provide an evidence-based approach to
mapping.
Axiophytes and Opportunities – a case study in working
with local partners with biological recording data
Methods
An axiophyte list for Shropshire
was derived by taking all species
that were restricted to BAP
habitats (90% of records) and also
found in 25% or fewer tetrads in
the vice-county. These axiophytes
were then allocated to one or
more broad habitat types.
The woodland and grassland
axiophytes were then coincidencemapped to identify the areas of
greatest value for woodland and
grassland. The coincidence data
were transferred to GIS and mapped
onto Landscape Description Units so
axiophyte species densities could be
allocated to each landscape ‘patch’.
Axiophytes and Opportunities – a case study in working
with local partners with biological recording data
Axiophytes and
Opportunities – a case
study in working with
local partners with
biological recording
data
Axiophytes and Opportunities – a case study in working
with local partners with biological recording data
Results
The resulting map then showed
where woodland planting
schemes could take place
without compromising speciesrich grassland and where
woodland planting schemes
could work effectively to link
existing blocks of ancient
woodland.
Conclusions and applications
This demonstrates how existing
empirical, repeatable, presenceabsence data is used to produce
habitat maps which would otherwise
have been expensive to collect and
subject to a high degree of
subjectivity. The resulting map is
quantifiable and evidence-based.
Woodland planting schemes in
Shropshire can now be targeted more
effectively. This system has been
adopted by the West Midlands
Biodiversity Group.
What can we learn from case studies on axiophyte use?
Axiophytes can provide useful insights into how to assess
sites empirically, using an evidence-based approach
Axiophytes indicate favourable conditions – the more
axiophytes the better quality the habitat
Axiophytes can include bryophytes, not just vascular plants
They can be used to answer specific questions on site
conservation, conservation prioritization and landscape
scale issues
They should be used with a small degree of caution,
bearing in mind issues of scope of recording especially
when using time-sliced data
References
Aisbitt, R. 2012. Can axiophyte counts be used to
assess wildife sites? University of Birmingham MSc
Thesis
Belton, L. 2011. An algorithm to enumerate
axiophyte richness in SSSIs. BSBI Recorder 15.
Ison J. 2011. Axiophyte diversity versus total species
diversity in Devon. BSBI Recorder 15.
Lockton, A., Wrench, D., Whild, S. Diack, I. &
McCullagh, F. 2007. Identifying conservation
priorities in the Meres & Mosses Natural Area by
using axiophytes. Unpublished report to Natural
England.

similar documents