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

Recruitment dynamics of the long-lived obligate seeders Callitris intratropica (Cupressaceae) and Petraeomyrtus punicea (Myrtaceae)

Jeremy Russell-Smith
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Tropical Savannas Management Cooperative Research Centre, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia and Bushfires Council of the Northern Territory, Winnellie, NT 0821, Australia. Email:

Australian Journal of Botany 54(5) 479-485
Submitted: 1 August 2005  Accepted: 2 February 2006   Published: 3 August 2006


The fire-prone sandstone Arnhem Plateau is recognised as an international centre of plant species diversity. Key regional long-lived obligate seeders include the coniferous tree Callitris intratropica R.T.Baker & H.G.Smith, and the endemic myrtaceous, serotinous shrub Petraeomyrtus punicea (Byrnes) Craven. The paper reports a 6year study of seedling-recruitment dynamics in natural stands of both species. For C. intratropica, it was found that (1) contrary to other published observations, initial growth was slow, with juveniles taking ~10 years to attain 2-m height, (2) maturation substantially exceeds 10 years and (3) previously unreported, even juveniles may occasionally resprout following very low-intensity fires after 100% scorch. For P. punicea, (1) maturation in some individuals commences as early as 4 years but generally takes at least 1–2 years longer and (2) juveniles (as well as adults) are killed following 100% scorch. The results emphasise the need for management-imposed fire regimes dominated by patchy, low-intensity fires for conservation of regional long-lived obligate seeders.


This study was undertaken as part of a long-term fire-monitoring and staff-training program established in Kakadu National Park. The author thanks Kakadu NP and Bushfires Council NT staff, and traditional owners, for their inputs to this exercise. The manuscript benefited from comments provided by two anonymous referees.


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