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Fire-patterned vegetation and the development of organic soils in the lowland vegetation mosaics of south-west Tasmania


Wood, SW and Hua, Q and Bowman, DMJS, Fire-patterned vegetation and the development of organic soils in the lowland vegetation mosaics of south-west Tasmania, Australian Journal of Botany, 59, (2) pp. 126-136. ISSN 0067-1924 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright © 2011 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/BT10309


Two contrasting ecological models have been proposed for the forest–moorland vegetation mosaics of southwest Tasmania that stress different interactions between fire, soils, vegetation and the physical environment to produce either stable or dynamic vegetation patterns. We investigated aspects of these models by sampling organic soil profiles across vegetation mosaics to determine variation in soil depth, organic carbon (C) content, nutrient capital, stable C isotope composition (d13C) and 14C radiocarbon age in two contrasting landscape settings. 14C basal ages of organic soils ranged from recent (<400 calibrated (cal.) years BP) to mid Holocene (~7200 cal. years BP), with a tendency for older soils to be from poorly drained moorlands and younger soils from the forest. The long-term net rate of C accumulation ranged from 2.7 to 19.2 gCm–2 year–1, which is low compared with northern hemisphere peatland systems. We found that d13C in organic soil profiles cannot be used to infer Holocene vegetation boundary dynamics in these systems. We found a systematic decrease of phosphorus from rainforest through eucalypt to moorland, but estimated that phosphorus capital in moorland soils was still sufficient for the development of forest vegetation. Our results suggest that the characteristics of organic soils across the landscape are the result of interactions between not only vegetation and fire frequency, but also other factors such as drainage and topography.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Landscape ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Wood, SW (Mr Samuel Wood)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:75879
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2012-02-20
Last Modified:2018-03-28

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