Assessing plant diversity and composition in grasslands across spatial scales: the standardised EDGG sampling methodology

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Abstract

This paper presents the details of the EDGG sampling methodology and its underlying rationales. The methodology has been applied during EDGG Research Expeditions and EDGG Field Workshops since 2009, and has been subsequently adopted by various other researchers. The core of the sampling are the EDGG Biodiversity Plots, which are 100‐m2 squares comprising, in two opposite corners, nested‐plot series of 0.0001, 0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 1 and 10 m2 square plots, in which all terricolous vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens are recorded using the shoot presence method. In the 10‐m2 plots, species cover is also estimated as a percentage and various environmental and structural parameters are recorded. Usually the EDGG Biodiversity Plots are complemented by the sampling of additional 10 m2 normal plots with the same parameters as the 10‐m2 corners of the first, allowing coverage of a greater environmental diversity and the achievement of higher statistical power in the subsequent analyses for this important grain size. The EDGG sampling methodology has been refined over the years, while its core has turned out to generate high‐quality, standardised data in an effective manner, which facilitates a multitude of analyses. In this paper we provide the current versions of our guidelines, field forms and data entry spreadsheets, as open‐access Online Resources to facilitate the easy implementation of this methodology by other researchers. We also discuss potential future additions and modifications to the approach, among which the most promising are the use of stratified‐random methods to a priori localise the plots and ideas to sample invertebrate taxa on the same plots and grain sizes, such as grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and vegetation‐dwelling spiders (Araneae). As with any other method, the EDGG sampling methodology is not ideal for every single purpose, but with its continuous improvements and its flexibility, it is a good multi‐ purpose approach. A particularly advantageous element, lacking in most other sampling schemes, including classical phytosociogical sampling, is the multi‐scale and multi‐taxon approach, which provides data that allow for deeper understanding of the generalities and idiosyncrasies of biodiversity patterns and their underlying drivers across scales and taxa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-30
Number of pages18
JournalBULLETIN ... OF THE EUROPEAN DRY GRASSLAND GROUP
Volume32
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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