Calcareous sloping fens are minerotrophic wetland systems that are well known for their high species richness, but little is known about the local processes that govern the spatial patterns of species distribution within these communities. This study was undertaken to document vegetative patterns and to quantify community differences within one such calcareous wetland. A 250-m transect was established along a topographic/hydrologic gradient that intersected several visually distinctive, predominantly herbaceous, wetland plant communities. Vegetation composition was surveyed in July and August 1997 using a non-random, centralized sampling approach. Three 15-m2 sampling plots were established for each of four stations along the transect. Vegetation within each 15-m2 sampling plot was surveyed using fifteen contiguous 1-m2 quadrat frames with visual estimates of cover determined for each species. One hundred thirty taxa were identified within the 180 m2 area sampled. Average species richness values ranged from 61 to 76 species per 15-m2 sampling plot, with high spatial turn-over of species among plots. Indicator Species Analysis identified taxa with concentrated abundance and fidelity within particular sampling stations. Data for the 15-m2 plots were analyzed using non-metric multidimensional scaling that produced ordinations suggesting strong environmental gradients across the site. General community composition was similar to the Carex interior-C. leptalea-C. flava association described by Motzkin and consistent with other calcareous sloping fen communities described in the literature for the southern New England region.
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Vol. 24 • No. 3