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Threat and response: A decade of decline in a regionally endangered rainforest palm affected by fire and introduced animals


Liddle, DT and Brook, BW and Matthews, J and Taylor, SM and Caley, P, Threat and response: A decade of decline in a regionally endangered rainforest palm affected by fire and introduced animals, Biological Conservation, 132, (3) pp. 362-375. ISSN 0006-3207 (2006) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2006 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2006.04.028


The wild population of the palm Ptychosperma macarthurii near Darwin, in monsoonal northern Australia, is regionally endangered and provides a focus to illustrate a range of issues pertinent to conservation of rainforest habitat. Surveys in 1990 found that several populations exhibited a polarised size class structure typified by large adults and small juvenile plants. Over the following decade, in the absence of wildfire and in a period of reduced disturbance from introduced buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), cattle (Bos indicus) and pig (Sus scrofa), sufficient small juvenile plants survived and grew so as to infill the intermediate size classes. Three stage (bifid, juvenile and adult) transition matrix models characterised the population as declining under all observed conditions (intrinsic rate of increase: unburnt + few animals 0.9850; unburnt + many animals 0.9584; burnt <1 year 0.8737; burnt 1-2 years 0.9146; burnt >2 years 0.9937). In the absence of fire, simulations conducted to explore management options revealed a positive rate of increase with exclusion of introduced animals. With only partial introduced animal control or supplementation with juvenile plants, the median rate of increase remained negative. The regional population is at risk by more frequent and more intense fire due to the invasion of exotic grass species and land use changes in the catchment which result in an increased drying of the rainforest habitat. Ongoing decline is the most likely outcome in the absence of effective management intervention.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Arecaceae Ptychosperma, exotic animal impact, fire impact, monsoon rainforest, groundwater
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:116339
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2017-05-05
Last Modified:2017-09-15

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