Below is an exerpt from an email I sent to a client that requested information about using FQA in conjunction with mitigation banks. I hadn't thought about the subject before and just assumed that FQA was a perfectly acceptable thing to use wherever plants are found. But when I considered the true application of FQA, I wasn't so sure. Any thoughts?
I have used FQA in conjunction with mitigation monitoring in Indiana and didn’t really find it to be a great match. The problem is that FQA is designed to evaluate the floristic quality of “natural” communities. With this comes the assumption that all the taxa existing in situ are there of their own volition, demonstrative of the level of past disturbance of the site and represent taxa of a natural reproducing community existing in perpetuity (given that no bulldozers or invasive species interfere).
Mitigation sites and restoration sites don’t necessarily have these qualities. Take the wetland at Shaw Nature Reserve for example. It looks like a decent wetland creation, but many of the taxa planted and seeded there would not have occurred there “naturally” and most of them (Bald Cypress, for one) will probably not reproduce in situ. So to base an FQA off planted and/or seeded taxa is sort of misrepresenting them as being “natural”.
Another example is if I conducted a FQA of the landscaping around my house, which is all native, I would have a phenomenal list and corresponding numbers. However, if I don’t weed and trim and shape the landscape, the “system” would quickly crumble and the floristic quality would degrade dramatically. Just because for a brief snapshot of time I can assemble a group of taxa, doesn’t mean said taxa form a functioning natural community. Just something to consider.