eCite Digital Repository

Decades-scale vegetation change in burned and unburned alpine coniferous heath


Kirkpatrick, JB and Bridle, KL and Dickinson, KJM, Decades-scale vegetation change in burned and unburned alpine coniferous heath, Australian Journal of Botany, 58, (6) pp. 453-462. ISSN 0067-1924 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Restricted - Request a copy

Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2010 CSIRO.

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1071/BT10138


Fire appears to be a rare event in alpine vegetation, suggesting that its effects might be more persistent than in most lowland vegetation types. However, it has been suggested that the Australian alpine biota is resilient to infrequent large fires. This paper describes decades-scale vegetation and soil change after fire in paired plots overfire boundaries in Tasmanian alpine coniferous heath. The effect of fire on soils persisted for decades. Recovery of vegetation was extremely slow by global standards, with delayed reinvasion of previously dominant species. There was low cover of the most fire-sensitive species 43–69 years after fire and much bare ground still evident, with the rate of revegetation declining through time. Gymnosperm shrubs increased at the expense of angiosperms in the unburned plots in the same period and cryptogams declined in both burned and unburned plots. These results suggest that the Tasmanian alpine flora cannot be characterised as resilient to infrequent large fire, although most species survive its incidence. The many centuries that it appears are necessary for coniferous heath to recover to its pre-burn state suggest that fires caused by increased ignitions from lightning and arsonists are the major issue for conservation of the vegetation type.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Fire in alpine vegetation, coniferous heath
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Kirkpatrick, JB (Professor James Kirkpatrick)
UTAS Author:Bridle, KL (Dr Kerry Bridle)
ID Code:65451
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:22
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2010-11-17
Last Modified:2011-03-28
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page