Persistence of rare species depends on rare events: demography, fire response and phenology of two plant species endemic to a semiarid Banded Iron Formation range.

Miller, Ben P., Symons, David R., and Barrett, Matthew D. (2019) Persistence of rare species depends on rare events: demography, fire response and phenology of two plant species endemic to a semiarid Banded Iron Formation range. Australian Journal of Botany, 67 (3). pp. 268-280.

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Abstract

The association of rare plant species and Banded Iron Formation (BIF) ranges in semiarid Western Australia is a noted phenomenon. These ranges are also a focus of iron ore exploration and mining. Decisions and planning required for development, conservation and management resulting from this interest, often consider translocation of these threatened species. Nonetheless, little is known about the ecology of BIF-endemic species to support any such decisions. We assessed population structure, patterns of growth, mortality, recruitment, reproduction and in situ seedbank persistence for two declared rare flora species. The shrub Darwinia masonii, and sedge Lepidosperma gibsonii are endemic to an area <40 km2 on the south-western boundary of the Australian arid zone. Both species were found to be long lived and slow growing, with evidence for reliance on rare events such as fire, and high rainfall years, including, for some processes, consecutive high rainfall years for growth, reproduction and recruitment. Retrieval and germination of seed batches shows that both species’ seedbanks are long-lived, with seasonal dormancy cycling. This, together with the ability of mature plants to survive through years not supporting growth, and, for L. gibsonii, to resprout after fire, are key mechanism for persistence in this unpredictable and low rainfall environment.

Item ID: 60470
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1444-9862
Keywords: BIF, Cyperaceae, Darwinia masonii, Lepidosperma gibsonii, Myrtaceae, population ecology, Western Australia, Yilgarn.
Copyright Information: © CSIRO 2019
Funders: Mt Gibson Mining and Extension Hill (Asia Iron) Ltd
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2019 04:31
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060207 Population Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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