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

Reproductive size thresholds and seedling survival in Acacia harpophylla (Mimosaceae)

John M. Dwyer
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences, St Lucia, Brisbane 4072, Australia.

B CSIRO Land and Water, Ecosciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Rd, Dutton Park, Brisbane 4102, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: j.dwyer2@uq.edu.au

Australian Journal of Botany 65(5) 438-445 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT17051
Submitted: 24 March 2017  Accepted: 6 July 2017   Published: 31 July 2017

Abstract

Acacia harpophylla F.Muell. ex Benth. (brigalow) forests and woodlands formerly occupied at least 8.7 M ha of Queensland and New South Wales, but less than 10% persists in isolated fragments and linear strips within a matrix of exotic beef pasture and dryland cropping. Given the relatively rapid and widespread clearing of brigalow forests, recent research has focussed on restoration via naturally resprouting vegetation. However, our understanding of A. harpophylla sexual reproduction and seedling recruitment remains poor. This study, undertaken following a widespread masting event in late 2007, aimed to (1) quantify initial densities of A. harpophylla germinants; (2) estimate subsequent seedling survival during the first year; and (3) determine minimum size thresholds for sexual reproduction in A. harpophylla. Initial densities averaged >46 000 seedlings ha–1, but only 438 seedlings ha–1 (<1%) were estimated to remain after a year. Although mortality was high, seedling recruitment is probably still sufficient to replace senescing stems and augment population genetic diversity to some extent. A reproductive size threshold of 10 cm diameter was identified, providing useful information to predict when naturally resprouting stands will begin to participate in masting events.

Additional keywords: brigalow, masting, recruitment.


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