AXIOPHYTES AND IMPORTANT HABITATS
Úna Fitzpatrick & Paul Green
"Axiophytes are ‘worthy plants’ - the 40% or so of species that arouse interest and praise from botanists when they are seen. They are indicators of habitat that is considered important for conservation, such as ancient woodlands, clear water and species-rich meadows.
They are not the same as rare plants: species that have only ever been recorded in one or two sites in a county are often just chance occurrences, and have little ecological (or statistical) significance.
Lists of axiophytes provide a powerful technique for determining conservation priorities. Sites with many axiophytes are usually of greater importance than those with fewer; and changes in the number of axiophytes in a site over time can be used for monitoring the outcome of management practices".
BSBI website 2008: www.bsbi.org.uk/html/axiophytes.html
Axiophytes in County Waterford
In 2008 Paul Green came up with an overall axiophyte list for County Waterford. This list contains a total of 256 species, divided up by the most important habitats and microhabitats that exist within the county from his perspective as the BSBI vice county recorder (download County Waterford axiophyte list 2008). Of most interest are the overall axiophyte data and the tetrad map below shows plant 'hot spots' within Waterford where large numbers of axiophyte species occur.
Map of tetrads in County Waterford with high numbers of axiophyte species (based on data from 2000 onwards)
For individual habitat types, using axiophytes is a powerful way to use data to understand the distribution and status of these habitats. Below are maps (pdf) showing the numbers of axiophyte species present within ten important habitat types in County Wateford. All maps have been drawn at the tetrad level (to reflect common data collection methodology used by BSBI recorders) and use data from 2000 onwards only.