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

Determining maturity and population structure in Macrozamia parcifolia (Zamiaceae), a threatened Australian cycad

Adrian C. Borsboom A B , Jian Wang A and Paul I. Forster A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Queensland Herbarium, Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, Qld 4066, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: adrian.borsboom@qld.gov.au

Australian Journal of Botany 63(5) 392-402 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT14258
Submitted: 8 October 2014  Accepted: 13 January 2015   Published: 24 April 2015

Abstract

There is difficulty assigning maturity to non-arborescent (trunkless) cycad species and as a consequence in determining the mature–immature structure of populations, which is important for their management, particularly for those under threat. The aim of this investigation was to find a reliable and simple method to determine maturity for the threatened, non-arborescent cycad Macrozamia parcifolia P.I. Forst. & D.L. Jones, and to incorporate this information into a population structure. Measurements were taken from tagged plants on four quadrats in eucalypt-dominated open forest in south-eastern Queensland, Australia. Using a single time-point dataset of three variables associated with the longest mature leaf, basal petiole width coupled with several years of coning evidence was found best at distinguishing mature plants. Choice of this variable and the threshold point to class non-coning plants as mature or immature was through a classification-tree model using a binary recursive partitioning process, the tree being pruned to identify the best variable and threshold point via a cross-validation process. This simple, reliable method to determine maturity was still effective when using a single time-point dataset for coning evidence. The method can be applied to other threatened, non-arborescent cycads, which could aid in their conservation management. The structure of M. parcifolia population was bimodal. The mode that encompassed immature plants was broadly reverse-J shaped, indicating younger immature plants had highest mortality. Reasons for the bimodality are possibly complex, but could simply highlight a non-lineal relationship of basal petiole width with plant age.

Additional keywords: classification tree, competition, kernel density plot, leaf count, logistic regression, 1 SE rule.


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