Stream salinization is associated with reduced taxonomic, but
not functional diversity in a riparian plant community
Robert G. Doupé1* Alan J. Lymbery1 and Neil E. Pettit2
1Fish Health Unit, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia (Email: R.Doupe@murdoch.edu.au);and 2School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-5020, USA
*Corresponding author. Accepted for publication September 2005.
Austral Ecology (2006) 32, 388–393 Grant details
Dryland salinity presents an overwhelming threat to terrestrial and aquatic
habitats in Australia, and yet there remains very little empirical evidence
of the impacts of secondary salinization on the biodiversity of riparian
communities. Here we describe the response of a riparian plant community
to stream and soil salinization, 25 years after the experimental clearing
of a catchment in south-western Australia. Riparian plant species diversity
was inversely related to soil salinity, and plant species composition
was significantly altered by increased soil salinity.
Despite the evidence for an impact of salinization on the taxonomic diversity and composition of the riparian plant community, there was little evidence for any effect of salinization on functional group diversity, or on ecological functioning, as measured by the percentage of above-ground plant cover.
Key words: biodiversity, ecosystem function, riparian plant community, stream salinity