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

Can age be predicted from diameter for the obligate seeder Allocasuarina littoralis (Casuarinaceae) by using dendrochronological techniques?

Alana L. Burley A D , Stephen Phillips A and Mark K. J. Ooi B C

A School of Environmental and Applied Sciences, Griffith University, PMB 50 Gold Coast Mail Centre, Qld 9726, Australia.

B Institute for Conservation Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.

C Biodiversity Conservation Science Section, Policy and Science Division, Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW), PO Box 1967, Hurstville, NSW 2220, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Present address: School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies, The University of Melbourne, 221 Bouverie St, Carlton, Vic. 3010, Australia. Email:

Australian Journal of Botany 55(4) 433-438
Submitted: 1 August 2006  Accepted: 12 December 2006   Published: 20 June 2007


In fire-prone regions, assessing stand age of obligate-seeding species provides an estimate of time since last fire. If a relationship exists between tree age and diameter, measuring the stem diameter of trees is a simple field method for determining age-class distribution within a stand. In this study, we examined whether age of the obligate seeder Allocasuarina littoralis could be estimated from diameter by using dendrochronological applications. Analysis of radial samples established that A. littoralis puts down annual growth rings. The relationship between the number of growth rings and stem diameter was tested for both male and female stems by using regression analysis. For female plants, this relationship varied significantly between sites. In contrast, male stems provided a strong relationship between age (as a function of the number of growth rings) and diameter, regardless of site. A regression model estimating age from stem diameter, based on male trees only, was subsequently developed and tested with data collected from trees of known age. Predicted estimates from stem diameter were within 3.76 years of the true age. Field measures of stem diameters can therefore provide a tool for estimating the fire history, especially time since last fire, in areas where stands of this species occur.


Armesto JJ Casassa I Dollenz O 1992 Age structure and dynamics of Patagonian beech forests in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Vegetatio 98 13 22 doi:10.1007/BF00031633

Baker PJ 2003 Tree age estimation for the tropics: a test from the southern Appalachians. Ecological Applications 13 1718 1732

Banks JCG 1991 A review of the use of tree rings for the quantification of forest disturbances. Dendrochronologia 9 51 70

Boninsegna JA Villalba R Amarilla L Ocampo J 1989 Studies on tree rings, growth rates and age-size relationships of tropical tree species in Misiones, Argentina. International Association of Wood Anatomists Bulletin 10 161 169

Brienen RJW Zuidema PA 2006 Lifetime growth patterns and ages of Bolivian rain forest trees obtained by tree ring analysis. Journal of Ecology 94 481 493

Clark JS , Gill AM , Kershaw AP (2002) Spatial variability in fire regimes: its effects on recent and past vegetation. 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)

Cowling RM Lamont BB 1987 Post-fire recruitment of four co-occurring Banksia species. Journal of Applied Ecology 24 645 658 doi:10.2307/2403899

Delph LF (1999) Sexual dimorphism in live history. In ‘Gender and sexual 9 dimorphism in flowering plants’. (Eds MA Geber, TE Dawson, LF Delph) pp. 149–173. (Springer-Verlag: Berlin)

Delph LF Meagher TR 1995 Sexual dimorphism masks life history trade-offs in the dioecious plant Silene latifolia. Ecology 76 775 785 doi:10.2307/1939343

Eshete G Ståhl G 1999 Tree rings as indicators of growth periodicity of acacias in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Forest Ecology and Management 116 107 117 doi:10.1016/S0378-1127(98)00442-3

Fritts HC (1976) ‘Tree rings and climate.’ (Academic Press: London)

Gehring JL Monson RK 1994 Sexual differences in gas exchange and response to environmental stress in dioecious Silene latifolia (Caryophyllaceae). American Journal of Botany 81 166 174 doi:10.2307/2445630

Gill AM Bradstock RA 1992 A national register for the fire responses of plant species. Cunninghamia 2 653 660

Grau HR Easdale TA Paolini L 2003 Subtropical dendroecology dating disturbances and forest dynamics in northwestern Argentina montane ecosystems. Forest Ecology and Management 177 131 143

Houssard C Thompson JD Escarré J 1994 Do sex-related differences in response to environmental variation influence the sex-ratio in the dioecious Rumex acetosella? Oikos 70 80 90 doi:10.2307/3545702

Jacoby GC 1989 Overview of tree-ring analysis in tropical regions. International Association of Wood Anatomists Bulletin 10 99 108

Jenkins ME Morrison DA Auld TD 2005 Use of growth characteristics for predicting plant age of three obligate-seeder Proteaceae species. Australian Journal of Botany 53 101 108

Martin DM Moss JMS 1997 Age determination of Acacia tortilis (Forsk.) Hayne from northern Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 35 266 277 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.1997.067-89067.x

McBride JR 1983 Analysis of tree rings and fire scars to establish fire history. Tree-ring Bulletin 43 51 67

Melville S (1995) The effect of fire on casuarina (Allocasuarina littoralis) regrowth communities: an urban bushland case study. In ‘The sixth Queensland fire research workshop: working papers’. (Ed. B Roberts) pp. 68–79. (University of Southern Queensland: Toowoomba, Qld)

Morrison DA 1995 Some effects of low-intensity fires on populations of co-occurring small trees in the Sydney region. Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of NSW 115 109 119

Norton DA Palmer JG Ogden J 1987 Dendroecological studies in New Zealand 1. An evaluation of tree age estimates based on increment cores. New Zealand Journal of Botany 25 373 383

Ogden J 1978 On the dendrochronological potential of Australian trees. Australian Journal of Ecology 3 339 356

Ogden J 1981 Dendrochronological studies and the determination of tree ages in the Australian tropics. Journal of Biogeography 8 405 420 doi:10.2307/2844759

Ooi MKJ Whelan RJ Auld TD 2006 Persistence of obligate-seeding species at the population scale: effects of fire intensity, fire patchiness and long fire-free intervals. International Journal of Wildland Fire 15 261 269 doi:10.1071/WF05024

Pannell JR Myerscough PJ 1993 Canopy-stored seed banks of Allocasuarina distyla and A. nana in relation to time since fire. Australian Journal of Botany 41 1 9 doi:10.1071/BT9930001

Pickering CM 2000 Sex specific differences in floral display and resource allocation in Australian alpine dioecious Aciphylla glacialis. Australian Journal of Botany 48 81 91 doi:10.1071/BT97121

Piovesan G Di Filippo A Alessandrini A Biondi F Schirone B 2005 Structure, dynamics and dendroecology of an old-growth Fagus forest in the Apennines. Journal of Vegetation Science 16 13 28 doi:10.1658/1100-9233(2005)016[0013:SDADOA]2.0.CO;2

Pollmann W 2003 Stand structure and dendroecology of an old-growth Nothofagus forest in Conguillio National Park, south Chile. Forest Ecology and Management 176 87 103 doi:10.1016/S0378-1127(02)00279-7

Rozas V 2003 Tree age estimates in Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur: testing previous and improved methods. Plant Ecology 167 193 212 doi:10.1023/A:1023969822044

Rozas V 2004 A dendroecological reconstruction of age structure and past management in an old-growth pollarded parkland in northern Spain. Forest Ecology and Management 195 205 219 doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2004.02.058

Ruffner CM Abrams MD 1998 Relating land-use history and climate to the dendroecology of a 326-year-old Quercus prinus talus slope forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 28 347 358 doi:10.1139/cjfr-28-3-347

Singer RJ Burgman MA 1999 The regeneration ecology of Kunzea ericoides (A.Rich.) J.Thompson at Coranderrk Reserve, Healesville. Australian Journal of Ecology 24 18 24 doi:10.1046/j.1442-9993.1999.00942.x

Taylor VL Harper KT Mead LL 1996 Stem growth and longevity dynamics for Salix arizonica Dorn. The Great Basin Naturalist 56 294 299

Watson P Wardell-Johnson G 2004 Fire frequency and time since fire effects on the open-forest and woodland flora of Girraween National Park, south-east Queensland, Australia. Austral Ecology 29 225 236

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

Wills TJ 2003 Using Banksia (Proteaceae) node counts to estimate time since fire. Australian Journal of Botany 51 239 242 doi:10.1071/BT01074

Worbes M 1995 How to measure growth dynamics in tropical trees a review. International Association of Wood Anatomists Journal 16 337 351

Worbes M Staschel R Roloff A Junk WJ 2003 Tree ring analysis reveals age structure, dynamics and wood production of a natural forest stand in Cameroon. Forest Ecology and Management 173 105 123

Export Citation Cited By (7)