The classification of alvar vegetation in the Interlake region of Manitoba, Canada

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Pauline K. Catling
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Alvars are globally rare rock barren ecosystems on limestone pavement. This thesis focused on the quantitative classification of vegetation of Manitoba alvars, the relationships between vegetation patterns and environmental factors and the effects of grazing on vegetation. Vegetation plots were completed across twenty sites. Cluster analysis, indicator species analysis and PCA were used to describe eight vegetation types. A RDA revealed moisture regime, soil depth, bare rock cover and disturbance (grazing and browsing) are the most important factors affecting floristic composition. Grazing effects were studied at two sites using paired plots on either side of a fenceline dividing grazed and ungrazed areas. PCA and RDA showed significant difference between vegetation compositions based on grazing. A partitioning of species richness and diversity by introduced and native species revealed that both sites experienced significant replacement by introduced species. Current grazing levels on Manitoba alvars are severely impacting the vegetation of this ecosystem.
alvar, limestone pavement, plant ecology, vegetation classification, disturbance, vegetation dynamics, species associations