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Grazing and the absence of fire promote the dominance of an unpalatable shrub in a patch mosaic cyclic successional system

Citation

Kirkpatrick, JB and Bridle, K, Grazing and the absence of fire promote the dominance of an unpalatable shrub in a patch mosaic cyclic successional system, Australian Journal of Botany, 64, (1) pp. 45-50. ISSN 1444-9862 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/BT15162

Abstract

We experimentally determined how an apparently unpalatable and fire-sensitive shrub, Richea acerosa (Lindley) F.Muell., responded to the single and interactive effects of grazing and burning over 324 years at two subalpine sites in Tasmania. At the Middlesex Plains site, a low-intensity burn killed most individuals of the species 3 years after fire and fencing. At the Lake Botsford site, total grazing exclusion for 24 years resulted in a strong reduction of the number of small shrubs of the species, and in a lower proportion of dead material in plants of any given size. An open shrub layer results from the absence of R. acerosa seedlings in the open centres of senescing plants and their preferential location along the margins of the foliage of mature and senescing plants. Thus, the persistence of R. acerosa appears to require an absence of frequent fire and the presence of sufficient grazing pressure from vertebrate herbivores to produce lawn between shrubs. Richea acerosa is, thus, an unpalatable shrub that depends on grazing.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fire, grazing pressure, shrub senescence, shrub shape, shrub size, subalpine vegetation, Tasmania, vegetation dynamics
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial Ecology
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Objective Field:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of environments not elsewhere classified
Author:Kirkpatrick, JB (Professor James Kirkpatrick)
Author:Bridle, K (Dr Kerry Bridle)
ID Code:110035
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2016-07-12
Last Modified:2017-11-03
Downloads:0

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