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

Explaining the distribution, structure and species composition of snow-patch vegetation in Tasmania, Australia

Jared Parry A , Jamie B. Kirkpatrick A B and Jon Marsden-Smedley A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Discipline of Geography and Spatial Sciences, School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: J.Kirkpatrick@utas.edu.au

Australian Journal of Botany 64(6) 484-491 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT16094
Submitted: 8 May 2016  Accepted: 21 July 2016   Published: 14 September 2016

Abstract

The term ‘snow patch’ indicates an area in an alpine zone with distinct vegetation because snow persists there longer than in the surrounding areas. Snow patches are a well known rare and threatened ecosystem on mainland Australia, but little is known of their distribution and vegetation in Tasmania. We describe, and determine the environmental relationships of, snow patches and their vegetation in Tasmania. There are 119 snow patches in Tasmania, covering 86 ha in toto, 43 of which have some fjaeldmark vegetation and the rest of which have a complete vegetation cover. Snow patches are confined to the taller, more continental mountains where they occur on north-east- to east-facing slopes, with the surrounding alpine vegetation usually being free of persistent snow. Their considerable floristic and structural variability relates to substrate and climate. Within Tasmania, several species are largely restricted to snow patches. The high degree of Tasmanian endemism in the snow-patch vegetation makes it distinct from the snow-patch vegetation of mainland Australia. The Tasmanian snow patches are also distinct in their environmental conditions. In Tasmania, snow does not usually persist over the winter outside the 119 snow patches. There are five floristic communities in these patches, all being distinct from those in mainland Australian snow patches. The Tasmanian snow patches merit listing as a threatened ecosystem on the basis of their distinctiveness and restricted extent.

Additional keywords: alpine heath, alpine sedgeland, bolster heath, fjaeldmark, mat heath, short alpine herbfield.


References

Braun-Blanquet J (1932) ‘Plant sociology; the study of plant communities; authorized English translation of Pflanzensoziologie.’ 1 edn. (McGraw-Hill: New York)

Costin AB, Gray M, Totterdell CJ, Wimbush DJ (2000) ‘Kosciuszko Alpine flora.’ 2 edn. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

Edmonds T, Lunt ID, Roshier DA, Louis J (2006) Annual variation in the distribution of summer snowdrifts in the Kosciuszko alpine area, Australia, and its effect on the composition and structure of alpine vegetation. Austral Ecology 31, 837–848.
Annual variation in the distribution of summer snowdrifts in the Kosciuszko alpine area, Australia, and its effect on the composition and structure of alpine vegetation.CrossRef |

Gibson N, Kirkpatrick JB (1985) Vegetation and flora associated with localized snow accumulation at Mount Field West, Tasmania. Australian Journal of Ecology 10, 91–99.
Vegetation and flora associated with localized snow accumulation at Mount Field West, Tasmania.CrossRef |

Good RB (1998) Changing snow regimes and the distribution of alpine vegetation. In ‘Snow: a natural history; an uncertain future’. (Ed. K Green) pp. 98–112. (Australian Alps Liaison Committee: Canberra)

Green K, Pickering CM (2009) Vegetation, microclimate and soils associated with the latest-lying snowpatches in Australia. Plant Ecology & Diversity 2, 289–300.
Vegetation, microclimate and soils associated with the latest-lying snowpatches in Australia.CrossRef |

Jordan GJ, Harrison PA, Worth JRP, Williamson GJ, Kirkpatrick JB (2016) Palaeoendemic plants provide evidence for persistence of open, well-watered vegetation since the Cretaceous. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25, 127–140.
Palaeoendemic plants provide evidence for persistence of open, well-watered vegetation since the Cretaceous.CrossRef |

Kirkpatrick JB (1982) Phytogeographical analysis of Tasmanian alpine floras. Journal of Biogeography 9, 255–271.
Phytogeographical analysis of Tasmanian alpine floras.CrossRef |

Kirkpatrick JB (1983) Treeless plant communities of the Tasmanian high country. Proceedings of the Ecological Society of Australia 12, 61–77.

Kirkpatrick JB (1989) The comparative ecology of mainland Australian and Tasmanian alpine vegetation. In ‘The scientific significance of the Australian Alps’. (Ed. RB Good) pp. 127–142. (Australian Academy of Science: Canberra)

Kirkpatrick JB (1997) ‘Alpine Tasmania: an illustrated guide to the flora and vegetation.’ (Oxford University Press: Melbourne)

Kirkpatrick JB, Bridle KL (1998) Environmental relationships of floristic variation in the alpine vegetation of southeast Australia. Journal of Vegetation Science 9, 251–260.
Environmental relationships of floristic variation in the alpine vegetation of southeast Australia.CrossRef |

Kirkpatrick JB, Bridle KL (1999) Environment and floristics of ten Australian alpine vegetation formations. Australian Journal of Botany 47, 1–21.
Environment and floristics of ten Australian alpine vegetation formations.CrossRef |

Kirkpatrick JB, Green K, Bridle KL, Venn SE (2014) Patterns of variation in Australian alpine soils and their relationships to parent material, vegetation formation, climate and topography. Catena 121, 186–194.
Patterns of variation in Australian alpine soils and their relationships to parent material, vegetation formation, climate and topography.CrossRef |

McDougall KL, Walsh NG (2007) Treeless vegetation of the Australian Alps. Cunninghamia 10, 1–57.

Minchin PR (1990) ‘DECODA: database for ecological and community data.’ (ANUTECH: Canberra)

Roberts C, Kirkpatrick JB, McQuillan PB (2011) Tasmanian lentic wetland lawns are maintained by grazing rather than inundation. Austral Ecology 36, 303–309.
Tasmanian lentic wetland lawns are maintained by grazing rather than inundation.CrossRef |

Wahren C-H, Williams RJ, Papst WA (2001) Alpine and subalpine snow patch vegetation on the Bogong High Plains, SE Australia. Journal of Vegetation Science 12, 779–790.
Alpine and subalpine snow patch vegetation on the Bogong High Plains, SE Australia.CrossRef |

Williams RJ, McDougall KL, Wahren C-H, Rosengren NJ, Papst WA (2006) Alpine landscapes. In ‘Ecology: an Australian perpective’. (Eds PM Attiwill, B Wilson). (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK)

Williams RJ, Wahren C-H, Stott KAJ, Camac JS, White M, Burns E, Harris S, Nash M, Morgan JW, Venn S, Papst WA, Hoffmann AA (2015) An International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list ecosystems risk assessment for alpine snow patch herbfields, south-eastern Australia. Austral Ecology 40, 433–443.
An International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list ecosystems risk assessment for alpine snow patch herbfields, south-eastern Australia.CrossRef |



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (3)