a1 Deptartment of Biology and Evolution, Ferrara University, Corso Ercole I d'Este, 32, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
a2 Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston, TAS 7050, Australia
This paper proposes a new objectively-generated vegetation classification for southern and northern Victoria Land (continental Antarctica) based on the floristic composition of the plant communities. The new classification aims to integrate the existing physiognomic classification of the cryptogamic Antarctic tundra, provide useful data on floristic composition and distribution of the vegetation occurring in southern and northern Victoria Land, and develop a suitable tool allowing easy comparison of syntaxa from different locations. Field data from 26 sites along a latitudinal gradient (72°–77°S) were analysed by a hierarchical classification integrated with multivariate statistics, including indirect ecological information (Principal Component Analysis). Similarity of the identified groups was assessed through the Jaccard similarity index. The new classification is compatible with previous ones and is widely applicable to Victoria Land and includes previous classification. This standardized approach relates plant communities to their floristic composition and provides a basis for relating vegetation composition to environmental gradients and to patterns of vegetation dynamics and succession which are still poorly understood in Antarctica.
(Received September 17 2007)
(Accepted March 18 2008)