Grazing and fire in two subalpine peatlandsKeith L. McDougall
NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, PO Box 2115, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian Journal of Botany 55(1) 42-47 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT06096
Submitted: 11 May 2006 Accepted: 5 September 2006 Published: 18 January 2007
The floristic composition and structure of peatland vegetation in adjoining subalpine catchments of the Bogong High Plains (north-eastern Victoria) were monitored between 1979 and 2006. Grazing by cattle had been excluded from one catchment since 1946, when it was fenced. Peatland vegetation in both catchments was partially burnt in a wildfire in 2003. Between 1979 and 1999, in the ungrazed peatland, the cover of Sphagnum cristatum Hampe and Baeckea gunniana Schauer increased and the cover of pools decreased, whereas in the grazed peatland the cover of B. gunniana and Epacris paludosa R.Br. decreased and the cover of Empodisma minus (Hook.f.) L.A.S.Johnson & D.F.Cutler increased. The cover of all recorded species decreased following a fire in 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, a significant increase in cover was detected in two of eight species measured in burnt areas. In burnt areas, the number of native species per quadrat increased in the grazed peatland and the numbers of exotic species per quadrat increased in both peatlands over that period. By 2006, the peatlands had largely recovered floristically from the 2003 fires but it is likely to be decades before the cover of S. cristatum and Richea continentis B.L.Burtt. reaches pre-fire levels. Control of several exotic species that established after the fire (especially Salix cinerea L. and Juncus spp.) may be required.
This project is dedicated to Professor John Turner and Mrs Maisie Carr who had the foresight to set up the experiment in the 1940s, to Warwick Papst (Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment) who had the determination to continue the long-term monitoring program and to Dr David Ashton who assisted with developing the initial methodology and encouraged its write-up. Many staff and students from Melbourne University Botany School and participants of the Alpine Ecology Course assisted with field work. John Morgan (La Trobe University), Neville Walsh (National Herbarium of Victoria), Andrea White (University of Melbourne) and Dick Williams (CSIRO) were especially helpful with data collection, and Dick provided useful comments on a draft of the paper. The initial survey was supported by the Soil Conservation Authority of Victoria.
Carr SGM, Turner JS (1959) The ecology of the Bogong High Plains. II. Fencing experiments in grassland C. Australian Journal of Botany 7, 34–63.
| CrossRef |
Clarke PJ, Martin ARH (1999) Sphagnum peatlands of Kosciuszko National Park in relation to altitude, time and disturbance. Australian Journal of Botany 47, 519–536.
| CrossRef |
Johnson PN (2001) Vegetation recovery after fire on a southern New Zealand peatland. New Zealand Journal of Botany 39, 251–267.
Lawrence RE (1999) Vegetation changes on the Bogong High Plains from the 1850s to 1950s. Transactions of the Royal Society of Victoria 111, xxix–lii.
McDougall KL (2001) Growth rates of Sphagnum (Sphagnum cristatum) in a Victorian subalpine bog before and after harvesting. Ecological Management & Restoration 2, 152–154.
McDougall KL, Walsh NG (In press) Treeless vegetation of the Australian Alps. Cunninghamia in press ,
McDougall KL, Hobbs RJ, Hardy GEStJ (2002) Floristic and structural differences between Phytophthora infested and adjoining uninfested vegetation in the northern jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest of Western Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 50, 277–288.
| CrossRef |
Timmins SM (1992) Wetland vegetation recovery after fire: Eweburn Bog, Te Anau, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 30, 383–399.
Wahren C-HA, Papst WA, Williams RJ (1994) Long-term vegetation change in relation to cattle grazing in subalpine grassland and heathland on the Bogong High Plains: an analysis of vegetation records from 1945 to 1994. Australian Journal of Botany 42, 607–639.
| CrossRef |
Wahren C-HA, Williams RJ, Papst WA (2001) Vegetation change and ecological processes in alpine and subalpine Sphagnum bogs of the Bogong High Plains, Victoria, Australia. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 33, 357–368.
| CrossRef |
Walsh NG, McDougall KL (2004) Progress in the recovery of the flora of treeless subalpine vegetation in Kosciuszko National Park after the 2003 fires. Cunninghamia 8, 439–452.
Whinam J, Chilcott N (2002) Floristic description and environmental relationships of Sphagnum communities in NSW and the ACT and their conservation management. Cunninghamia 7, 463–500.
Whinam J, Chilcott N, Morgan JW (2003) Floristic composition and environmental relationships of Sphagnum-dominated communities in Victoria. Cunninghamia 8, 162–174.