Coefficients of conservatism for the vascular flora of the Dakotas and adjacent grasslands

Information and Technology Report 2001-0001




Floristic quality assessment can be used to identity natural areas, to facilitate comparisons among different sites, to provide long-term monitoring of natural area quality, and to evaluate habitat management and restoration efforts. To facilitate the use of floristic quality assessment in North Dakota, South Dakota (excluding the Black Hills), and adjacent grasslands, we developed a species list and assigned coefficients of conservatism (C values; range 0 to 10) to each plant species in the region's flora. The C values we assigned represented our collective knowledge of the patterns of occurrence of each plant species in the Dakotas and our confidence that a particular taxon is natural-area dependent. Because state boundaries usually do not follow ecological boundaries, the C values we assigned should be equally valid in nearby areas with the same vegetation types. Of the 1,584 taxa we recognized in this effort, 275 (17%) were determined to be nonnative to the region. We assigned C values of 4 or higher to 77% of our taxa, and the entire native flora had a mean C value (C) of 6.l. A floristic quality index (FQI) can be calculated to rank sites in order of their floristic quality. By applying the coefficients of conservatism supplied here and calculating C and FQI, an effective means of evaluating the quality of plant communities can be obtained. Additionally, by repeating plant surveys and calculations of C and FQI over time, temporal changes in floristic quality can be identified.

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Publication Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Coefficients of conservatism for the vascular flora of the Dakotas and adjacent grasslands
Series title:
Information and Technology Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
iii, 32 p.
United States
North Dakota, South Dakota
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