Impact of storm-burning on Melaleuca viridiflora invasion of grasslands and grassy woodlands on Cape York Peninsula, Australia

Crowley, Gabriel, Garnett, Stephen, and Shephard, Susan (2009) Impact of storm-burning on Melaleuca viridiflora invasion of grasslands and grassy woodlands on Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Austral Ecology, 34 (2). pp. 196-209.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1442-9993.20...
 
25
1


Abstract

This paper examines invasion of grasslands on Cape York Peninsula, Australia, by Melaleuca viridiflora and other woody species, and the role of storm-burning (lighting fires after the first wet season rains) in their maintenance. Trends in disturbance features, fuel characteristics, ground layer composition, and woody plants dynamics under combinations of withholding fire and storm-burning over a 3-year period were measured on 19 plots in three landscape settings. Population dynamics of M. viridiflora are described in detail and 20-year population projections based on transition matrices under different fire regimes generated. Numerous M. viridiflora suckers occurred within the grass layer, increasing each year regardless of fire regime, and were rapidly recruited to the canopy in the absence of fire. Storm-burning had little impact on fuel, ground layer or woody plant composition, but maintained open vegetation structure by substantially reducing recruitment of M. viridiflora suckers to the sapling layer, and by reducing the above-grass-layer abundance of several other invasive woody species. Population projections indicated that withholding fire for 20 years could cause a sevenfold increase of M. viridiflora density on Ti-tree flats, and that annual to triennial storm-burning should be effective at maintaining a stable open vegetation structure. These findings argue against vegetation thickening being an inevitable consequence of climate change. We conclude that a fire regime that includes regular storm-burning can be effective for maintaining grasslands and grassy woodlands being invaded by M. viridiflora.

Item ID: 34495
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1442-9993
Keywords: encroachment; fire; grassland; habitat restoration; Melaleuca viridiflora; storm-burn; transition matrices; vegetation thickening
Funders: Cape York National Heritage Trust, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Tropical Savannas Cooperative Research Centre
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2014 01:43
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960910 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Land and Water Management @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 1
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page