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Keywords:

  • bauxite mining rehabilitation;
  • dominance-diversity curves;
  • fire response syndrome;
  • jarrah forest;
  • life form;
  • resprouters

Abstract Dominance-diversity curves have been previously constructed for a range of ecosystems around the world to illustrate the dominance of particular species and show how their relative abundances compare between communities separated in time or space. We investigate the usefulness of dominance-diversity curves in rehabilitated areas to compare the floristic composition and abundance of “undisturbed” areas with disturbed areas, using bauxite mining rehabilitation in Western Australia as an example. Rehabilitated pits (11–13 years old) subjected to prescribed fire in autumn and spring were compared with unburned rehabilitated areas and the native jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest. Dominance diversity curves were constructed by ranking the log of the species density values from highest to lowest. Species were categorized according to a variety of functional responses: life form (trees, shrubs, subshrubs, and annuals), fire response syndrome (seeder or resprouter), nitrogen fixing capability, and origin (native or adventive). Exponential functions showed extremely good fits for all sites (r2 = 0.939–0.995). Dominance diversity graphs showed that after burning of rehabilitated areas, sites exhibited a more similar dominance-diversity curve than before burning. This was emphasized in a classification (UPGMA) of the regression equations from the dominance-diversity curves that showed that sites burned in spring were more similar to the native forest than sites burned in autumn. There was no significant segregation of the nitrogen-fixing and species origin categories, although the life form and fire response groupings showed significant segregation along the dominance-diversity curve. Resprouters tended to be over-represented in the lower quartiles and under-represented in the upper quartiles of post-burn sites. It is suggested that using dominance-diversity curves in the monitoring of rehabilitated areas may be a useful approach because it provides an easily interpretable visual representation of both species richness and abundance relationships and may be further utilized to emphasize categories of plants that are over- or under-represented in rehabilitated areas. This will assist in the post-rehabilitation management of these sites.