Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Long-term studies of post-fire reproduction in an Australian shrubland and woodland

J. M. Harvey A C , A. J. M. Hopkins D , M. A. Langley A , C. R. Gosper A B , M. R. Williams A and C. J. Yates A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Science and Conservation Division, Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia.

B CSIRO Land and Water, Private Bag 5, Wembley, WA 6913, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: Judith.Harvey@dpaw.wa.gov.au

D Deceased.

Australian Journal of Botany 65(4) 339-347 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT17011
Submitted: 11 January 2017  Accepted: 10 May 2017   Published: 5 July 2017

Abstract

Identifying appropriate fire-return times is critical for management of temperate southern Australia’s fire-prone shrublands and woodlands. The time to first flowering and peak flowering are useful attributes for understanding how species and vegetation will respond to different fire intervals. Using a plant fire-response trait framework, we investigate patterns of reproduction in south-western Australian kwongan and woodland after prescribed fires with a 30-year longitudinal study, with the aim of identifying appropriate fire intervals. Modelling of post-fire flowering responses of species and aggregating responses into plant functional types showed substantial differences in the time after fire to first and peak flowering. Tests of hypotheses of flowering patterns after fire with different fire-response traits showed that (1) resprouters flower sooner than recruits of non-resprouters, (2) serotinous non-resprouters reach first and peak flowering later than do non-resprouters with soil-stored seed, (3) species in taller strata reach first and peak flowering later than those in lower strata and (4) geophytes flower earlier than other resprouters that lose their aboveground biomass in fire. The most fire interval-sensitive non-resprouting serotinous species take 15–20 years in kwongan to reach peak flowering and in Allocasuarina woodland 25–30 years, providing a working hypothesis for minimum fire intervals in the plant communities under investigation. Our study illustrates the value of long-term ecological studies for informing biodiversity management.


References

Benson DH (1985) Maturation periods for fire-sensitive shrub species in the Hawksbury sandstone vegetaion. Cunninghamia 1, 339–349.

Bond WJ, Midgley JJ (2001) Ecology of sprouting in woody plants: the persistence niche. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 16, 45–51.
Ecology of sprouting in woody plants: the persistence niche.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BC2sbjvFOgtA%3D%3D&md5=f37d4668cd946911c507e13c45f02963CAS |

Bond WJ, van Wilgen BW (1996) ‘Fire and plants.’ (Chapman and Hall: London)

Bradstock RA, Kenny BJ (2003) An application of plant functional types to fire management in a conservation reserve in southeastern Australia. Journal of Vegetation Science 14, 345–354.
An application of plant functional types to fire management in a conservation reserve in southeastern Australia.CrossRef |

Brown JM, Hopkins AJM (1983) The kwongan (sclerophyllous shrublands) of Tutanning Nature Reserve, Western Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 8, 63–73.
The kwongan (sclerophyllous shrublands) of Tutanning Nature Reserve, Western Australia.CrossRef |

Burrows N, Wardell-Johnson GW, Ward B (2008) Post-fire juvenile period of plants in south-west Australian forests and implications for management. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 91, 163–174.

Cale PG, Burbidge AH (1981) ‘Research plan for the western ground parrot, western whipbird and western bristlebird.’ (Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service: Canberra)

Clarke PJ, Knox KJE, Campbell ML, Copeland LM (2009) Post fire recovery of woody plants in the New England Tableland Bioregion. Cunninghamia 11, 221–239.

Cramer MD, Midgley JJ (2009) Maintenance costs of serotiny do not explain weak serotiny. Austral Ecology 34, 653–662.
Maintenance costs of serotiny do not explain weak serotiny.CrossRef |

Egler FE (1954) Vegetation science concepts. I. Initial floristic composition, a factor in old-field vegetation development. Vegetatio 4, 412–417.
Vegetation science concepts. I. Initial floristic composition, a factor in old-field vegetation development.CrossRef |

Enright NJ, Fontaine JB, Westcott VC, Lade JC, Miller BP (2011) Fire interval effects on persistence of resprouter species in Mediterranean-type shrublands. Plant Ecology 212, 2071–2083.
Fire interval effects on persistence of resprouter species in Mediterranean-type shrublands.CrossRef |

Freestone M, Wills TJ, Read J (2015) Post-fire succession during the long-term absence of fire in coastal heathland and a test of the chronosequence survey method. Australian Journal of Botany 63, 572–580.
Post-fire succession during the long-term absence of fire in coastal heathland and a test of the chronosequence survey method.CrossRef |

Gosper CR, Yates CJ, Prober SM (2012a) Changes in plant species and functional composition with time since fire in two Mediterranean climate plant communites. Journal of Vegetation Science 23, 1071–1081.
Changes in plant species and functional composition with time since fire in two Mediterranean climate plant communites.CrossRef |

Gosper CR, Yates CJ, Prober SM, Parsons BC (2012b) Contrasting changes in vegetation structure and diversity with time since fire in two Australian Mediterranean-climate plant communities. Austral Ecology 37, 164–174.
Contrasting changes in vegetation structure and diversity with time since fire in two Australian Mediterranean-climate plant communities.CrossRef |

Gosper CR, Prober SM, Yates CJ (2013a) Estimating fire interval bounds using vital attributes: implications of uncertainlty and among population variabilty. Ecological Applications 23, 924–935.
Estimating fire interval bounds using vital attributes: implications of uncertainlty and among population variabilty.CrossRef |

Gosper CR, Prober SM, Yates CJ (2013b) Multi-century changes in vegetation structure and fuel availability in fire sensitive woodlands. Forest Ecology and Management 310, 102–109.
Multi-century changes in vegetation structure and fuel availability in fire sensitive woodlands.CrossRef |

Keeley JE, Pausas JG, Rundel PW, Bond WJ, Bradstock RA (2011) Fire as an evolutionary pressure shaping plant traits. Trends in Plant Science 16, 406–411.
Fire as an evolutionary pressure shaping plant traits.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3MXpvFWqsr4%3D&md5=cc78c48d39040add8ad26238b1c77968CAS |

Keith DA, Bradstock RA (1994) Fire and competition in Australian heath: a conceptual model and field investigations. Journal of Vegetation Science 5, 347–354.
Fire and competition in Australian heath: a conceptual model and field investigations.CrossRef |

Keith DA, Tozer MG (2012) The influence of fire, herbivores and rainfall on vegetation dynamic in the mallee: a long term experiment. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 134, 35–54.

Keith DA, McCaw WL, Whelan RJ (2002a) Fire regimes in Australian heathlands and their effects on plants and animals. In ‘Flammable Australia: the fire regimes and biodiversity of a continent’. (Eds RA Bradstock, JE Williams, AM Gill) pp. 199–237. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Keith DA, Williams JE, Woinarski JC (2002b) Fire management and biodiversity conservation: key approaches and principles. In ‘Flammable Australia: the fire regimes and biodiversity of a continent’. (Eds RA Bradstock, JE Williams, AM Gill) pp. 401–425. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Keith DA, Lisa H, Suzette R, Jedda L, Michael B (2007) Plant functional types can predict decade-scale changes in fire-prone vegetation. Journal of Ecology 95, 1324–1337.
Plant functional types can predict decade-scale changes in fire-prone vegetation.CrossRef |

Knuckey CG, van Etten EJB, Doherty TS (2016) Effects of long-term fire exclusion and frequent fire on plant community composition: a case study from semi-arid shrublands. Austral Ecology 41, 964–975.
Effects of long-term fire exclusion and frequent fire on plant community composition: a case study from semi-arid shrublands.CrossRef |

Lamont BB, Downes KS (2011) Fire-stimulated flowering among resprouters and geophytes in Australia and South Africa. Plant Ecology 212, 2111–2125.
Fire-stimulated flowering among resprouters and geophytes in Australia and South Africa.CrossRef |

Likens GE (1989) ‘Long term studies in ecology: approaches and alternatives.’ (Springer-Verlag: New York)

Maher KA, Hobbs RJ, Yates CJ (2010) Woody shrubs and herbivory influence tree encroachment in the sandplain heathlands of southwestern Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 47, 441–450.
Woody shrubs and herbivory influence tree encroachment in the sandplain heathlands of southwestern Australia.CrossRef |

McDougall KL (2007) Grazing and fire in two subalpine peatlands. Australian Journal of Botany 55, 42–47.
Grazing and fire in two subalpine peatlands.CrossRef |

Noble IR, Slayter RO (1980) The use of vital attributes to predict successional changes in plant communities subject to recurrent disturbances. Vegetatio 43, 5–21.
The use of vital attributes to predict successional changes in plant communities subject to recurrent disturbances.CrossRef |

Parsons BC, Gosper CR (2011) Contemporary fire regimes in a fragmented and an unfragmented landscape: implications for vegetation structure and persistence of the fire-sensitive malleefowl. International Journal of Wildland Fire 20, 184–194.
Contemporary fire regimes in a fragmented and an unfragmented landscape: implications for vegetation structure and persistence of the fire-sensitive malleefowl.CrossRef |

Russell-Smith J, Whitehead PJ, Cook GD, James LH (2003) Response of eucalyptus-dominated savanna to frequent fires: lessons from Munmarlary, 1973–1996. Ecological Monographs 73, 349–375.
Response of eucalyptus-dominated savanna to frequent fires: lessons from Munmarlary, 1973–1996.CrossRef |

Shackelford N, Renton M, Perring MP, Brooks K, Hobbs RJ (2015) Biodiversity change in heathland and its relationships with shifting local fire regimes and native species expansion. Journal of Plant Ecology 8, 17–29.
Biodiversity change in heathland and its relationships with shifting local fire regimes and native species expansion.CrossRef |

Whelan RJ (1995) ‘The ecology of fire.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Yates CJ, Ladd PG (2005) Relative importance of reproductive biology and establishment ecology for persistence of a rare shrub in a fragmented landscape. Conservation Biology 19, 239–249.
Relative importance of reproductive biology and establishment ecology for persistence of a rare shrub in a fragmented landscape.CrossRef |



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Supplementary MaterialSupplementary Material (118 KB) Export Citation

View Altmetrics