1993 Proceedings of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conferences
FLORISTIC QUALITY ASSESSMENT COMPUTER PROGRAMS FOR THE CHICAGO REGION
Linda Masters (Wetstein)
A methodology helpful to the assessment of natural area quality is presented. This method uses a Lotus spreadsheet program to extract, from a data base, several factors concerning the floristic quality of a defined area. Using acronyms of plant names, the user can extract information such as the coefficeint of conservatism, growth habit, wetness category, scientific name, and common name. The program has been designed to evaluate either a transect sample and/or an inventory list of plants. In related programs the user can also extract blooming period information and similarity indices.
This program utilizes the Floristic Quality Assessment System originated by Gerould Wilhelm of the Morton Arboretum (Swink & Wilhelm 1979; Wilhelm & Ladd 1988) and developed with Wayne Lampa of the DuPage County Forest Preserve, Richard Young of Kane County, and Douglas Ladd of The Nature Conservancy. This system permits anyone with knowledge of field botany to arrive at an evaluation that reflects a consistent philosophy and allows repeatable results. The premise on which this assessment system was based derives from the fundamental character of the native Chicago region flora. The floristic quality of an area is reflected by its richness in conservative species. Species conservatism can be defined as the degree of faithfulness a plant displays to a specific natural habitat or set of remnant environmental conditions.
Each native species was assigned a coefficient of conservatism, scaler values from 0-10, based upon its fidelity to natural areas in the Chicago region. The values of 15 and 20 found in Swink & Wilhelm (1979) have been defaulted to 10. The more remote one is from that region, the more likely it will be that the conservatism values will not reflect local conditions. Use of Chicago region values in remote areas can render spurious evaluations. The database should always be tailored to the state or region in which the system will be used.
The database consists of each species' acronym, scientific name, common name, nativity, coefficient of conservatism (0 = weedy, 10 = conservative), physiognomy, and National Wetland Category (Reed 1988) with its corresponding coefficient of wetness (-5 = OBL, 0 = FAC, +5 = UPL). Adventive species are shown in ALL CAPS. All adventive species from Swink & Wilhelm (1979) have been defaulted to asterisks but are figured as zeros in the calculations. Negative numbers are no longer being used. Each species is accessed through a six-letter acronym. For the most part, the acronym consists of the first three letters of the genus and the first three of the specific epithet. For example, ANDGER is the acronym for Andropogon gerardii. Most acronyms are intuitive, but in some cases where duplication occurs, non-intuitive acronyms are used to avoid data extraction errors. For example, BAPLEA is the acronym for Baptisia leucantha and BAPLEO for Baptisia leucophaea. For Carex acronyms, the first two letters are CX, followed by the first four of the epithet, CXAGGR = Carex aggregata. In the case of trinomials, the acronym is the first three letters of the genus, the first two letters of the species, and the first letter of the variety, ARCUVC = Arctostaphylos uvi-ursi coactilis. The names for the plants in this database follow the nomenclature given in Swink & Wilhelm (1979). There are two programs that access this database. One is used to evaluate a site inventory; the other is used to evaluate a sampling or monitoring transect.
This program can be run on a 286 or faster computer with Lotus versions 2.2, 2.3, or 2.4. The program is large (@ 355,000 bytes); therefore your computer needs to have sufficient memory to run Lotus and the program. It helps to have some knowledge of Lotus to use this program efficiently.
This is an example of the Inventory Program output as it comes from Lotus. We suggest processing it through a word processing software, such as WordPerfect, to format it into a report form. A format macro can be developed to make the formatting consistent, quick, and easy. We also include the following explanation when we send this out in a report.
The following inventory, prepared by the MORTON ARBORETUM, follows the nomenclature given in Swink & Wilhelm, PLANTS OF THE CHICAGO REGION, 1979. Each species is preceded by its database acronym and coefficient of conservatism (0 = weedy, 10 = conservative), and followed by its wetness coefficient (-5 = wet, +5 = dry), corresponding National Wetland Category (OBL = obligate wetland species, FAC = facultative species, UPL = upland species), and physiognomy (A = annual, B = biennial, P = perennial, W = woody, H = herbaceous). Native taxa are those species believed to have been present in the Chicago region prior to settlement. Adventives, shown in ALL CAPS, include those species which have entered the region since settlement and are therefore not integral to any presettlement community.
The table in the upper left-hand corner provides an analysis of the quality of the site. It shows the total number of species present, the mean coefficient of conservatism, the index, and mean wetness; calculated separately for natives and then including the adventive species (W/Adventives). The MEAN datum indicates the average coefficient of conservatism. The INDEX is derived by multiplying the MEAN by the square root of the number of SPECIES. If the INDEX of an area registers in the middle 30's or higher, one can be relatively certain that there is sufficient native character to be of rather profound environmental importance in terms of a regional natural area perspective. The WETNESS datum indicates the mean wetness coefficient for all species present, NATIVE and with adventives. The tables in the upper center and right-hand corner indicate the number of species in each physiognomic class, NATIVE versus ADVENTIVE along with their percentage of the total inventory.
This is an example of the Transect Program output as it comes from Lotus. We suggest processing it through a word processing software, such as WordPerfect, to format it into a report form. A format macro can be developed to make the formatting consistent, quick, and easy. We also include the following explanation when we send this out in a report.
The following transect report, prepared by the MORTON ARBORETUM, follows the nomenclature given in Swink & Wilhelm, PLANTS OF THE CHICAGO REGION, 1979. Each species has a designated coefficient of conservatism (CC: 0 = weedy, 10 = conservative), a wetness coefficient (CW: -5 = wet, +5 = dry) and a corresponding National Wetland Category (OBL = obligate wetland species, FAC = facultative species, UPL = upland species). Native taxa are those species believed to have been present in the Chicago region prior to settlement. Adventives, shown in ALL CAPS, include those species which have entered the region since settlement and are therefore not integral to any natural community.
The first table is a quadrat summary which shows the quadrat number, mean coefficient of conservatism (NM), index (NI), wetness (NW), and number of taxa (NT) calculated separately for natives and then including the adventive species (W/Ad) for each quadrat of the transect. These data are then averaged for the entire transect along with the standard deviation, both values shown below each column. The columns to the far right are sequential averages [(x+n+y)/3] of the wetness coefficients useful in discerning or graphing the hydric vegetation along the catena in straight line transects (N SEQ = natives only, T SEQ = with adventives).
The second table treats the transect as a whole. It begins with a tabulation of the number of native species in each coefficient of conservatism category (0 to 10), followed immediately by the percentage of these species in three conservatism classes (0 to 3, 4 to 6, 7 to 10). The small table on the right summarizes the species, mean coefficient of conservatism, index, and wetness for all species in the transect, calculated separately for natives and then including the adventive species (W/Adventives). The MEAN datum indicates the mean coefficient of conservatism for the species present. The INDEX is derived by multiplying the MEAN by the square root of the number of SPECIES.
The third section shows the number and percent of species in each physiognomic group (A = annual, B = biennial, P = perennial, W = woody, H = herbaceous). The table on the right shows the relative importance of each physiognomic group. Relative importance (RIV) is calculated by relativizing the frequency (FQ) and the cover class (COV) of each group found in the transect. These are summed, and divided by two to achieve the RIV.
The fourth section is a relative importance table for individual species, calculated in the same way as the physiognomic relative importance table. Each scientific name is followed by its coefficient of conservatism and wetness category.
The tabulated data are followed by a list of the acronyms, Latin names, and common names of all of the species which appeared in the transect. Common names are those employed by Swink & Wilhelm. This is followed by a printout of the quadrats, each species followed by its cover class.
Reed, P. B., Jr. 1988. National list of plant species that occur in wetlands: North Central (Region 3). U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv. Biol. Rep. 88(26.3). 99 pp.
Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1979. Plants of the Chicago region. Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL.
Wilhelm, G. and D. Ladd. 1988. Natural area assessment in the Chicago region. Trans. 53rd North American Wildl. & Nat. Res. Conf. 361-375.