Comparitive Effects of Stock and Wild Vertebrate Herbivore Grazing on Treeless Subalpine Vegetation, Eastern Centreal Plateau, Tasmania
Bridle, K and Kirkpatrick, JB, Comparitive Effects of Stock and Wild Vertebrate Herbivore Grazing on Treeless Subalpine Vegetation, Eastern Centreal Plateau, Tasmania, Australian Journal of Botany, 47, (6) pp. 817-834. ISSN 0067-1924 (1999) [Refereed Article]
The existence of two 25-year-old grazing exclosures on Liawenee Moor, Eastern Central Plateau, Tasmania, created an opportunity to investigate the impacts of vertebrate herbivores on treeless subalpine vegetation. There were three treatments: sheep-, native herbivore- and rabbit-grazed; native herbivoreand rabbit-grazed; no grazing. The amount of bare ground was highest in the sheep-grazed plots, while vegetation cover was greatest in the ungrazed exclosure. The cover of all lifeform groups, except small herbs, was greater in the exclosures than in the sheep-grazed plots. The percentage frequency of tall herbs was significantly less in the sheep-grazed plots than either of the grazing exclosures. Tall herbs were more likely to be found under the canopy of other vegetation in the sheep-grazed plots while the same species were found to be growing in locations with no other vegetation cover in the ungrazed exclosure. Revegetation of bare ground averaged 1% per year over a 20-year period in the ungrazed exclosure. While percentage bare ground has also decreased in the native- and rabbit-grazed exclosure, it has increased in the sheep-grazed plots. Domestic stock grazing appears to have a much greater impact on vegetation cover, species composition and community structure than grazing by native herbivores and rabbits. No grazing allows for the fastest rehabilitation of the area. Our results are consistent with those from alpine and treeless subalpine areas of the Australian mainland.