All scientific data collected by the Australian Antarctic program (AAp) are eventually described in the Catalogue of Australian Antarctic and Subantarctic Metadata (CAASM). CAASM can be used to search through AAp data descriptions, and it also provides links to access publicly available datasets, which can either be immediately downloaded or obtained from the Australian Antarctic Data Centre (AADC).

Robinson, S., Turnbull, J. and Wasley, J. (2020) Windmill Islands vegetation transects surveyed 2002-03 (baseline), Ver. 1, Australian Antarctic Data Centre - doi:10.4225/15/55B197219CF2D, Accessed: 2022-05-16
Windmill Islands vegetation transects surveyed 2002-03 (baseline)
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Australian Antarctic Data Centre, Australia
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Metadata ID: ASAC_1313_Transects_2002-03
Title: Windmill Islands vegetation transects, surveyed 2002/03 (baseline)

This record contains data associated with a Windmill Islands vegetation baseline survey conducted in 2002/03, under ASAC_1313. A previous pilot survey is described under metadata ID: ASAC_1087_Transects_1999-00 and surveys conducted after the baseline described here are recorded in metadata IDs: ASAC_1313_Transects_2007-08, ASAC_3042_Transects_2010-11, AAS_3129_Transects_2011-12, AAS_4046_Transects_2012-13. A description of the survey design (relevant to all survey periods and above mentioned metadata IDs) follow.

In 2002/03 a series of vegetation transects were established at two Windmill Island sites: (1) Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) 135, on Bailey Peninsula (66.283 S, 110.533 E), and (2) Robinson Ridge (66.368 S, 110.587 E). See SCAR Map Catalogue (maps 14450 and 14451) for location details.

In summary: Each site included 10 transects. Transects spanned a vegetation community gradient, from pure bryophyte stands to the point at which the bryophyte turf was predominantly moribund and encrusted with lichens. Transect locations established in 2002/03 were in different locations within the two sites from that surveyed in 1999/2000, but remained fixed thereafter. Transect lengths ranged between approximately 1 and 4 m (for 1999/2000 pilot; length information not known for transects established 2002/03). Transects were surveyed using quadrats (portable metal frames) to mark the survey area. Three quadrat positions were established per transect: end positions referred to as "Bryophyte" and "Lichen" communities and the middle position referred to as "Transitional" community. The location of quadrat positions are marked with small metal tags glued to nearby rocks. Letters on tags are: A, M and B; where A = Lichen community, M = Transitional community and B = Bryophyte community.

For each quadrat location the vegetation was sampled, collecting nine small (tweezer-pinch size) vegetation samples at 10 cm intervals across a 20 x 20 cm quadrat. The vegetation surface of each quadrat was photographed (25 x 25 cm quadrat) and environmental variables such as moisture availability were determined. For details, see QuadratSpecs.txt (this metadata record) and metadata ID: AAS_4046_Transects_2012-13, data file: Transects Data Summary_2000-2013.xlsx, worksheet "Quadrat".

Vegetation samples were analysed for species composition using microscopy techniques, with live bryophytes identified to species level and lichens to broad morphological groups. Quadrat photographs were analysed for broad vegetation cover patterns (e.g. % cover live moss, dead moss, crustose lichen etc).

A list of all vegetation categories scored follows (with abbreviations commonly used in associated data files provided in brackets):

Live bryophytes; green (Live Bryo, Live moss)
Moribund bryophytes; dead/brown/encrusted (Mori, Moribund)
bryophyte species Bryum pseudotriquetrum (Bry, Bryum)
bryophyte species Ceratodon purpureus (Cerat, Ceratodon)
bryophyte species Schistidium antarctici (Schistidium and Grim, Grimmia*)
bryophyte species Cephaloziella varians (Ceph)
Fruticose Lichens (Fr)
Foliose Lichens (Fo)
Crustose Lichens (Cr)

(* in 2002/03 this species was still referred to as Grimmia antarctici, abbreviation: Grim, thereafter it is referred to as Schistidium antarctici).

Further details for transect sample collection are provided in Ryan-Colton 2007, King 2009 and Benny 2013 (and for pilot survey conducted in 1999/2000, see Wasley 2004 and Wasley et al 202).

Descriptions of data associated with this record are provided below under the following headings:

Descriptions of data provided:

See data provided in metadata ID: AAS_4046_Transects_2012-13 and maps 14450 and 14451 in the SCAR Map Catalogue: and

TO BE PROVIDED - photo files for all quadrats (and transect/site images)

TO BE PROVIDED - as scanned PDFs
- Laboratory notebook - Jane Wasley has hardcopy (to scan) at AAD
- Field notebook - Jane Wasley has hardcopy (to scan) at AAD

FILE: ASAC_1313-Transects 2002-03-Microscopy.pdf
The provided pdf file is a scanned copy of A4 pages that were used as score sheets for microscopy analysis of vegetation samples collected from transects in 2002/03.

Samples were analysed (for species composition) via microscopy techniques after collection (analysis date/s not known, except 20/2/03 which is given on the last page of the provided file (page 20 of 20) is 20/2/03). These samples will have been analysed over a long period of time (weeks?) around this date.

One page per transect.
Transects located at two sites: "Meltpuddle" and "Robbos" (corresponding to M and R in quadrat labels, respectively). Transect and quadrat locations are as provided in metadata ID: Windmill Islands Vegetation Transects (noting that Meltpuddle = ASPA 135).
Each transect includes three quadrats (labelled: A, M, B).
A = lichen community, M = transitional community, B = bryophyte community

Description of terms and abbreviations:
- Transect: Transect ID; two sites: Meltpuddle and Robbos, numbers 1-10 are transect number
- Quadrat: Quadrat ID; e.g. M2A (USNEA). First character = site (M=Meltpuddle; R= Robbos), second character = transect number (1-10), third character = community (A=Lichen, M=Transitional, B=Bryopyte)
- Tray: label and position information of where the nine samples per quadrat were stored. Samples were stored in tissue culture trays with wells (24 wells per tray; to be confirmed via lab or field notebooks) e.g. 17 (1-3) would indicate tray number 17 (rows, 1-3).
- Sample ID: e.g. 1A, 3C.

Description of vegetation categories scored:
Bryophytes were determined as dead (brown) or live (green). If live then identified to species.
Lichens were determined as macro or crustose lichens. If macro then identified to taxa.
Full list of vegetation categories follows, terms provided in brackets ( ) are those used in metadata ID: Windmill Islands Vegetation Transects, if different from that used here:

- Dead Bryophytes: bryophytes; dead/brown/encrusted (Moribund)
- Live Brophytes: bryophytes; live/green (Live Bryo)
Bryum = bryophyte species Bryum pseudotriquetrum
Ceratodon = bryophyte species Ceratodon purpureus
Grimmia = bryophyte species Grimmia Antarctici (Schistidium antarctici)
Ceph = bryophyte species Cephaloziella varians

- Macro Lichens:
Usnea = lichen taxa Usnea spp. (Fruticose Lichens)
Umbilicaria = lichen taxa Umbilicaria sp. (Foliose Lichens)
Pseudophebe = lichen taxa Pseudophebe sp. (Fruticose Lichens)
- Crustose Lichen: lichen taxa, all species of crustose form (Crustose Lichens)

Hand written scores (numbers 0-4) are observations via microscopy analysis of each tweezer-pinch sized vegetation sample. Each sample was scored for relative abundance of each vegetation category, using a modified Braun- Blanquet scale (dominant=4, co-dominant=3, low abundance=2, trace=1 and absent=0). Details as described in Wasley et al 2012, Wasley 2004 and Ryan-Colton 2007.

Hand written notes include:
- Apotheca: fungal fruiting bodies obseved
- NSUS: No sample collected, Usnea spp. present at sampling point
- NSRO: No sample collected, rock at sampling point
- NSCR: No sample collected, crustose lichens at sampling point
- NSPS: No sample collected, Pseudophebe spp. present at sampling point
- NSPS: No sample collected, Umbilicaria spp. present at sampling point
- +US: Usnea spp. present at sampling point, in addition to the sample collected.
- +US (CD): Usnea spp. co-dominant at sampling point (in addition to the sample collected).

Note: this file was previously named: Transects 1999-2000_microscopy score sheets.pdf - indicating the data relate to samples collected in 1999/2000. Jane Wasley has changed this to 2002/03 (July 2015) for the following reasons:
- the date on the last page (page 20 of 20) is 20/2/03
- Each transect only has three quadrats (A,M,B). This was the experimental design followed in 2002/3 (onward), but in the 1999/2000 survey there up to 17 quadrats per transect.

This file has therefore been renamed 2002/3. Further information should be checked via raw data and field/lab notebooks and can be updated if required.

FILE: Transects-Microscopy-2002-03.xls
Note, this file (prior to 2015) had been located at:\SOE_Windmill_Island_veg\2008 Data updates\Transect Microscopy.xls, indicating it was 2007/08 data. In July 2015, Jane Wasley renamed the file as 2002/03. Other sources should be crossed check to confirm this change from 2008 to 2003 is correct (JW thinks 2008 was the year this data was submitted to AADC, but the data relates to samples collected in 2002/03).

Data provided in worksheet "raw" are values between 0-4, as described in worksheet "metadata". Samples were scored for species/taxa relative abundance using a modified Braun- Blanquet scale (dominant=4, co-dominant=3, low abundance=2, trace=1 and absent=0). This scoring method was also used for the 1999/2000 survey (metadata ID: ASAC_1087_Transects_1999-00), as described in Wasley et al 2012 and Wasley 2004.

Field names as per other descriptions related to this metadata record (and other related "transects" metadata records). Some details provided in worksheet "metadata".

FILE: Transects-%Cover-2002-03.xls
Note, as per previous file, this file (prior to 2015) had been located at:\SOE_Windmill_Island_veg\2008 Data updates\Transect % cover.xls, indicating it was 2007/08 data. In July 2015, Jane Wasley has renamed the file as 2002/03.

The file provided is raw present cover data, collected in the field via visual observations (by Jane Wasley). Quadrat area = 20 x 20 cm, gridded at 5 cm intervals. Each quadrat has 16 observations recorded (labelled using a row/column system, labelled A1 through to D4; each representing one 5 x 5 cm grid square). Note: this methods was also used for 1999/2000 transects, but was not included from 2007/08 onward - replaced instead by analysis of quadrat photos.

Worksheet names:
Raw Field Book - raw data as recorded in field notebook
%A - working step one, calculation of percent cover from raw data
%B - working step two, calculation of percent cover from raw data
Metadata - descriptions of abbreviations and terms.

FILE: Transects-TurfWaterContent-2002-03.xls
Note, as per previous files, this file (prior to 2015) had been located at:\SOE_Windmill_Island_veg\2008 Data updates\Turf Water Content.xls, indicating it was 2007/08 data. In July 2015, Jane Wasley has renamed the file as 2002/03.

The file provided is raw turf water content data, measured via deployment of sponge cores into moss turf. Sponge cores were inserted into the vegetation, left to equilibrate for a period of time then collected in pre-weighed air tight tubes and returned to the laboratory. Wet weight was recorded (g). Sponges dried to determine dry weight (g). These data used to calculate TWC.
TWC = (Wet weight-Dry weight)/Dry weight (g. H2O g-1 dw).

Two worksheets: 'raw'contains data and 'metadata'provides descriptions for data field names and abbreviations.

FILE: SoE72_update_0108.doc
This word doc provides a summary of survey status. Likely prepared by Ellen Ryan-Colton, but details not known. Date prepared unknown. Appears to provide data collected 2002/03 only.

FILES: Ellen Ryan-Colton 2007_Thesis.pdf and Ellen Ryan-Colton 2007_Appendix.pdf
The files provided are PDF files of the University of Wollongong Honours thesis written by Ellen Ryan-Colon in 2007. This thesis presents the 2002/03 baseline survey data, provides a toolkit detailing survey methods for future surveys and trials some image analysis techniques (as an alternative to collecting broadscale percent cover data visually in the field).

Data were collected from ASPA 135 and Robinson Ridge, as shown in maps 14450 and 14451 in the SCAR Map Catalogue.

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Samples were collected in January 2003, as described in metadata ID: AAS_4046_Transects_2012-13, data file: Transects Data Summary_2000-2013.xlsx, worksheet "DataCollection".

There has been some confusion about survey dates/seasons the provided files relate to. This is documented in the relevant sections describing the files. In summary - microscopy score sheets PDF file was previously labelled 1999/2000 and the three excel data files (related to %cover, microscopy and turf water content) were stored in a folder labelled "2008".


These data are publicly available for download from the provided URL.

Temporal Coverages

Spatial Coverages

Science Keywords

Additional Keywords









  • connell, dave (DIF AUTHOR)

Use Constraints

This data set conforms to the CCBY Attribution License

Please follow instructions listed in the citation reference provided at when using these data.


    ISO Topic

    • BIOTA

    Dataset Language

    • English

    Orignating Centre

    • Australian Antarctic Division

    Dataset Progress


    IDN Node

    • AMD
    • AMD/AU
    • CEOS


    • Ryan-Colton, E. (2007) Long-term monitoring of the impacts of climate change Antarctic terrestrial communities: baseline and method development, Honours thesis, 94, University of Wollongong
    • King, D. (2009) Rapid change in continental Antarctic vegetation communities, Honours thesis, 93, University of Wollongong
    • Benny, T. (2013) Out of the freezer: the response of continental Antarctic vegetation communities to climate change, Honours thesis, 96, University of Wollongong
    • J. Wasley, S.A. Robinson, J.D. Turnbull, D.H. King, W. Wanek and M. Popp (2012) Bryophyte species composition over moisture gradients in the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica: development of a baseline for monitoring climate change impacts, Biodiversity, 13(3-4), 257-264, doi:10.1080/14888386.2012.712636
    • Robinson, S.A., King, D.H., Bramley-Alves, J. et al. (2018) Rapid change in East Antarctic terrestrial vegetation in response to regional drying, Nature Clim Change, 8, 879–884,
    • King DH, Wasley J, Ashcroft MB, Ryan-Colton E, Lucieer A, Chisholm LA and Robinson SA (2020) Semi-Automated Analysis of Digital Photographs for Monitoring East Antarctic Vegetation., Front. Plant Sci., 11, 766, doi:10.3389/fpls.2020.00766

    Metadata Revision History

      2015-07-23 - record created by Dave Connell from a template completed by Jane Wasley. 2017-08-18 - record updated by Dave Connell - basic updates. 2020-06-18 - record updated by Dave Connell to publicly release the data.

    Creative Commons License