Recognizing Ecological Species Groups and their Relationships with Environmental Factors at Chamanbid-Jozak Protected Area, North Khorasan Province, Iran

Document Type : Research and Full Length Article


1 Ph.D Student, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Professor, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran,

3 Professor, Department of Range and Watershed Management, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

4 Associate Professor, Department of Range and Watershed Management, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Classification of Ecological Species Groups (ESG) in plant community analysis is one method to describe vegetation and relating them to environmental factors. This study was conducted to recognize ESG and their relationships with some environmental factors in Chamanbid-Jozak protected area from 2014 to 2016. This area is located in the eastern part of North Khorasan province, Iran. The study area contains steppe vegetation with some woodlands and shrubs of Paliurus spina–christi, Cerasus pseudoprostrata, and Cerasus microcarpa. To recognize ESG, a systematic-random sampling, by using 1 m2 Sampling Unit (SU), was carried out to provide a matrix of 74 sampling units and 42 species. Canopy cover percentage of different species was recorded in each SU. Physiographical, physical, and chemical factors, including altitude, slope, soil texture, gravel percentages, Organic Carbon (OC), Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K), lime, soil acidity (pH), Phosphorus (P), and Electrical Conductivity (EC) were measured. Euclidean distance and Ward's method of clustering were used to classify the plant species. Six ESG were detected in clustering and indicator species analyses. The relationships among these ESG and environmental factors were analyzed using Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA). The first ESG consisting four indicator species was influenced by organic carbon and K of almost f.0 fertile soils. ESG2 and ESG3 consisting four and one, indicator species, respectively. These ESG were only slightly affected by phosphorus and less by environmental factors evaluated in this study. ESG4, including eight indicator species was mostly affected by environmental factors such as altitude, slope, pH, and N. Both ESG5 and ESG6 were affected by gravel percentages. ESG classification of vegetation for sound and proper resource management in future via using long-term projects is recommended.


Main Subjects

Adel, M.N., Pourbabaei, H. and Dey, D., 2014. Ecological species group- Environmental factors relationships in unharvested beech forests in the north of Iran.Ecological Engineering 69: 1–7.
Aghai, R., Alvanineghad, S., Basiri, R. and Zolphagari, R., 2012. Relation between ecological groups and environmental factors. Applied Ecology. 1(2):53-63. (In Persian).
Akbarlou, M. and Nodehi, N., 2016. Relationship between some environmental factors with distribution of medicinal plants in Ghorkhud protected region, northern Khorasan Province, Iran. Journal Rangeland Science. 6(1): 63-72.
Aliakbari, M.,Vahabi, M. and Saadatfar, A.,2011.Quantifying the Rate of Environmental Factors Effect on Astragalus verus and Agropyron trichophorum Using Decision Support System and Multivariate Analysis of PCA. Journal Rangeland Science. 1(4):255-262.
Anonymous., 2015. Green Albourz Consulting Engineers. Forest project of non- industrial woods in Darkash and Jozak watershed. Bureau of natural resources in North Khorasan. (In Persian).
Arekhi, S., Heydari, M. and Pourbabaei, H., 2010. Vegetation-environmental relationship and ecological species groups of the Ilam Oak forest landscape, Iran. Caspian Journal of Environmental Sciences. 8(2):115-125.
Asadian, GH., Javadi, S.A., Jafary, M., Arzani, H. and Akbarzadeh, M., 2017. Relationships between Environmental Factors and Plant Communities in Enclosure Rangelands (Case study: Gonbad, Hamadan). Journal Rangeland Science. 7(1): 20-34.
Basiri, R. and Mahmodi Sarab, S. A., 2013. The relationship between some environmental factors and plant ecological groups in the Golzare Ize area. Plant Researches. 26(4):387-396. (in Persian).
Borcard, D., Gillet, F. and Legendre, P., 2011. Numerical ecology with R, Springer, New York.
Bouyoucos, C.J., 1962. Hydrometer method improved for making particle-size analysis of soil. Agronomy 54: 464–465.
Bray, B.M. and Kurtz, L.T., 1945. Determination of total, organic and available forms of phosphorus in soils. Soil Science. 59: 39–45.
Bremner, J. M., 1996. In: Sparks, D.L., et al. (Eds.), Nitrogen-Total. Methods of soil analysis. Soil Science Society of America, Inc., American Society of Agronomy, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, USA, pp. 1085–1122.
Bundy, L. G. and Bremner, J. M., 1972. A simple titrimetric method for determination of inorganic carbon in soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 36: 273-275.
Cowlishaw, G. and Davies, J.G., 1997. Flora of the Pro-Namib Desert Swakop River Catchment, Namibia: community classification and implications for desert vegetation sampling. J. Arid. Environment. 36(2), 271-290.
Daubenmire, R., 1968. Plant communities. A textbook of plant synecology. Harper & Row, New York.
Dias, E., Elias, R.B. and Nunes, V., 2004. Vegetation mapping and nature conservation: a case study in Terceira Island (Azores). Biodiversity and Conservation. 13(8):1519-1539.
Dufrêne, M. and Legendre, P., 1997. Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymmetrical approach. Ecol. Monograph. 67: 345–366.
Eshagi Rad, J. and Banj Shafiei, A., 2010. The distribution of ecological species groups in Fagetum communities of Caspian forest, determination of effective environment factors. Journal of Flora. 205:721-727.
Gauch, H.G. and Whittaker, R. H., 1981. Hierarchical classification of community data. Journal of Ecology 69: 135-152.
Ghorbani, J., Das, PM., Hughes, JM. and Mc Allister, HA., Pallai, SK., Pakeman, R. J., Marrs, R. H., Le Due M. G., 2003. Effect of restoration treatments on the diaspore bank under dense Pteridium stands in the U.K. Applied Vegetation Science. 6:189–198.
Godart, M.F., 1989. Ecological species groups in forest communities in South Belgium. Vegetatio 81:127–135.
Gotelli, N. J. and Ellison, A. M., 2013. A primer of ecological statistics 2nd Edition. Sinauer Associations, Massachusetts. 614 pp.
Grabherr, G., Reiter, K. and Willner, W., 2003. Towards objectivity in vegetation classification: the example of the Austrian forests. Plant Ecol. 169: 21–34.
Greig-Smith, P., 1983. Quantitative plant ecology. 3nd Edition. Studies in Ecology Vol. 9, Blackwell Scientific, Oxford.
Hill, M. O., 1979. TWINSPN-A Fortran program for arranging multivariate data in an ordered two-way table by classification of the individuals and attributes, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.
Jafari, M., Rostampour, M., Tavili, A., Zare Chahouki, M.A. and Farzadmehr, J., 2009. Direct gradient analysis of plant species and environmental factors in ecological groups, Case study: Zirkouh rangelands of Qaen. Rangeland Journal, 2(4):329-343. (In Persian).
Jafari, M., Zare Chahouki, M. A., Tavili, A., Azarnivand, H. and Zahedi Amiri, G., 2004. Effective environmental factors in the distribution of vegetation types in Poshtkouh rangelands of Yazd Province (Iran). J. Arid. Environment. 56:627-641. (In Persian).
Jangman, R. H. G., Ter Break, C. J. G. and Van Tongeren, O. F. R., 1987. Data analysis in community and landscape ecology. Fire Agricultural Publishing and Documentation, Wageningen.
Kent, M., 2012. Vegetation description and data analysis. 2nd edition. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Kershaw, K. A. and Looney, J. H. H., 1985. Quantitative and dynamic plant ecology, 3rd ed. Edward Arnold, London.
Legendre, P. and Legendre, L. 1998. Numerical ecology, 2nd edition, Development and Environmental Modeling. 20:1–853.
Ludwig, J.A. and Reynolds, J.F., 1988. Statistical Ecology: a Primer on Methods and Computing, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, New York.
MAPA, 1994. Métodos Oficiales de Análisis. Tomo III. Servicio de Publicaciones del Ministerio de Agricultura. Pescay Alimentación, Madrid, Spain, pp. 662. (In French)
Mataji, A., Moarefvand, P., Babaie Kafaki, S. and Madanipour Kermanshahi, M., 2010. Understory vegetation as environmental factors indicator in forest ecosystems. Inter Jour Environ. 7(4): 629-638.
McCune, B. and Grace, J. B., 2002. Analysis of Ecological Communities, MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, OR.
Mueller-Dombois, D. and Ellenberg, H., 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley, New York.
Northup, B. K., Brown, J. R. and Holt, J. A., 1996. Grazing impact on the spatial distribution of soil microbial biomass around tussock grasses in tropical grassland. Jour. Applied Soil Ecology. 13:259-270.
Nosrati, K., Ahmadi, H., Servati, M. R. and Lashkari, H., 2008. Assessment of environmental factors on the distribution of vegetation types by using multivariate statistical techniques. Physical Geography Research 1(1): 71-84 (In Persian).
Orloci, L., 1968. Information analysis in phytosociology: Partition, classification and prediction. Jour. Theoretical. Biol. 20(3):271-284.
Ozkan, K., Gulsoy, S., Aerts, R. and Muys, B., 2010. Site properties for Crimean juniper (Juniperus excelsa) in semi-natural forests of south western Anatolia, Turkey. Journal of Environmental Biology. 31: 97-100.
Pourbabaei, H. and Adel, M.N., 2015. Plant ecological groups and properties of common hazal (corylus avellana L.) stand in Safagashteh forest, north of iran. folia forestalia apaolonia. 57(4): 245-250.
Pourbabaei, H., Rahimi, H. and Adel, M.N., 2015. The effect of environmental factors on the distribution of pasture plants in the Kurdistan Region Divandarreh. Applied Ecology 4(11): 27-38 (In Persian).
Spies, T.A. and Barnes, B.V. 1985. A multifactor ecological classification of the northern hardwood and conifer ecosystems of Sylvania Recreation Area Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Can. Jour. For. Res. 15: 949-960.
Tatian. M., Arzani. H., Karimpour Reihan. M., Bahmanyar. M. and Jalilvand. H., 2009. Effect of soil and physiographic factors on ecological plant groups in the eastern Elborz mountain rangeland of Iran. Grassland Science.56:77-86.
Ter Braak, C. J. F., 1986. Canonical correspondence analysis: a new eigenvector technique for multivariate direct gradient analysis. Ecology, 67:1167-1179.
Van-der-Marrel, E., 1979. Transformation of cover-abundance values in phytosociology, its effects on community similarity. Vegtatio39: 97-114.
Walkley, A. and Black, I. A., 1934. An examination of the Degtjareff method for determining soil organic matter, and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method. Soil Sci. 37: 29–38.
Whittaker, R. H., 1962. Classification of natural communities. Bot. Rev. 28: 1–239.
Woldewahid, G., Werfb, W., Sykorac, K., Abated, T., Mostofae, B. and Huis, A., 2007. Description of plant communities on the Red Sea coastal plain of Sudan. J. Arid. Environ. 68: 113-131.
Zereen, A., Ahmad, S. S., Sardar, A. A., Khan, Z. and Nawas, M., 2015. Multivariate analysis of the ecological data of natural vegetation of Lahore district. Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences. 6(1): 69-76.