Stream salinization is associated with reduced taxonomic, but not functional diversity in a riparian plant community – Publication

Abstract of a publication based on work funded in part by the Australian Flora Foundation

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:;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

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