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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2010, Article ID 635852, 17 pages
Research Article

The Species Richness of Vascular Plants and Amphibia in Major Plant Communities in Temperate to Tropical Australia: Relationship with Annual Biomass Production

1Botany Departments, Universities of Adelaide, Melbourne, and Queensland, 107 Central Avenue, Saint Lucia, Queensland 4067, Australia
2Department of Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia

Received 6 November 2009; Accepted 9 May 2010

Academic Editor: Mark S. Ashton

Copyright © 2010 R. L. Specht and M. J. Tyler. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aerodynamic fluxes (frictional, thermal, evaporative) in the atmosphere as it flows over and through a plant community determine the Foliage Projective Covers and eco-morphological attributes of new leaves developed annually in overstorey and understorey strata. The number of leaves produced on vertical foliage shoots depends on available soil water and nutrients, also ambient temperature, during this short growth season. Stem density (number of stems per hectare) and species richness (number of species per hectare) in the overstorey of major Floristic Groups are correlated with annual shoot growth (ASG, t h a 1 ) in that stratum. Species richness in the overstorey increases in the climatic gradient from the arid to the humid zone as well as with increasing air temperatures (about 1 0 o C) from temperate to tropical Australia. Species richness in the understorey is highest in plant communities in temperate Australia, decreasing in the temperature gradient towards the tropics. As with other major plant and animal groups within an ecosystem, the species richness of Amphibia is correlated with the amount of solar energy fixed (per annum) by the major plant formation in the region—a photosynthetic potential determined by the foliage shoots (ASG, t h a 1 ) produced annually in the overstorey.