Austin, M.P., Cunningham, R.B. & Fleming, P.M. 1984, 'New approaches to direct gradient analysis using environmental scalars and statistical curve-fitting procedures', Vegetatio, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 11-27.
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The conceptual framework of direct gradient analysis (DGA) is discussed in relation to the functional, factorial approach to vegetation. Both approaches use abstract simplified environment gradients with which to correlate vegetation response. Environmental scalars based on physical process models of environment and/or known biological growth processes can be incorporated to make analyses less location specific. An example of an environmental scalar (radiation index) for converting aspect and slope measurements to the more biologically relevant radiation input at a site is given. The problem of the shape of species response curves to environmental gradients is examined using a sample of 1 286 plots from eucalypt forest in southern New South Wales. An important conclusion is that skewed or bimodal response curves may be due to unsatisfactory distribution of observations and/or unrecognized environmental factors. The use of Generalized Linear Modelling (GLM) as a method for providing a statistical basis for DGA is presented. Analyses using GLM, and presence/absence data are presented for a range of eucalypt species (Eucalyptus rossii, E. dalrympleana, E. fastigata etc.). Successful prediction of species distributions (realized niches) can be achieved with mean annual temperature, mean annual rainfall, radiation index and geology. Quadratic terms are required in many cases, indicating bell-shaped response curves. The major variability associated with species niches is shown to be related to a limited number (4) of environmental factors. DGA with biologically relevant scalars and appropriate statistical methods is suitable for studying many problems of species' realized niches and plant community composition. © 1984 Dr W. Junk Publishers.