Native Grasses for Revegetation in the Townsville Region

Hooker, Nanette (2010) Native Grasses for Revegetation in the Townsville Region. Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare, Townsville, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

The grass family (Poaceae) is one of the largest and most cosmopolitan of the flowering plant families of the world comprising more than 10,000 species. Grasses are found almost everywhere (even Antarctica). They are adapted to a wide range of climatic and soil conditions, and grow in habitats ranging from deserts to freshwater and marine environments. Grasses form a major component of many vegetation communities e.g. grasslands, steppe, prairie and savannas. Grasses are the most important plant family for humans. They provide a source of food (wheat, oats, maize, rice, sugarcane) and most of the grazing for wild and domesticated animals. Grass-use pervades all aspects of human endeavour: building materials, artistic pursuits, sports and leisure activities. New uses of grasses are still being found e.g. for environmental management. Humans have used grasses in a multiplicity of ways over a great period of time. Native grasses are an important and integral component of many vegetation communities; therefore they have an important role to play in rehabilitation and revegetation programs. Grasses have fibrous root systems and they can hold soil together and reduce erosion. Certain grass species can be used to prevent soil erosion on unstable surfaces such as beach sands (Thuarea involuta) and riparian areas (Arundinella nepalensis). Australian grasses provide food and shelter for many Australian birds and animals. The seeds of many native grasses are important components in the diet of several granivorous parrots and finches (Alloteropsis semialata, Chrysopogon fallax, Eragrostis species, Heteropogon triticeus, Sarga plumosum, Setaria surgens), and the bulbous bases of some grasses are a food source for a number of native animals (Alloteropsis semialata, Chrysopogon fallax). The leaves of many species of grasses are used for nest and burrow linings for many Australian birds, animals and reptiles; also some grass species (Sarga plumosum, Themeda triandra) are the main component in the diet of many Australian herbivores. In Australia there are over 1300 species of grass including non-native grasses. In the Townsville region there are more than 220 grass species, 160 of these are native. Twelve species have been selected for inclusion in this booklet. The choice of these species was based on a number of factors: annuals to long-lived perennials variable heights variable environmental requirements availability of seeds germination knowledge availability of seedlings A table at the back of the booklet summarises some of these features. Planning is one of the most important aspects of any revegetation effort and the decision whether or not to use Australian native grasses is an integral part of this process. Most grasses grow best in full sun or partial shade and revegetation sites need to be prepared to give the new grasses the best possible chance of survival. Although Australian native grass species are considered as being low input and low maintenance, this should not be confused with “zero” management. In many revegetation sites there may be a number of introduced or weed grasses which superficially look similar to native species, particularly seedlings. This is especially relevant in riparian areas where higher nutrient and moisture levels mean there are probably dense stands of non-native grasses. For this reason, getting to know the grass species on the site is very important. Most Australian native grasses do not have the ability to compete with robust, non-native grasses e.g. Guinea Grass (Megathyrsus maximus), therefore it is best for the site to be free of these weedy species, or the site must be regularly maintained. 3 Selection of appropriate native grasses for a particular site will depend on the proposed use of the area e.g. erosion control. Some grass species can grow in a wide range of habitats and on a wide range of soil types.

Item ID: 20824
Item Type: Book (Non-Commercial)
ISBN: 978-0-9757730-1-7
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Copyright Information: © 2010 Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc. Open access via publisher website.
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2012 03:08
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060799 Plant Biology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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