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

Composition, leaf area index and standing biomass of eucalypt open forests near Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia

A. P. O'Grady, X. Chen, D. Eamus and L. B. Hutley

Australian Journal of Botany 48(5) 629 - 638
Published: 2000


Savanna communities dominate the wet–dry tropical regions of the world and are an important community type in monsoonal northern Australia. As such they have a significant impact on the water and carbon balance of this region. Above the 1200-mm isohyet, savanna’s are dominated by Eucalyptus miniata–E. tetrodonta open forests. We have described in detail the composition and structure as well as seasonal patterns of leaf area index and above-ground biomass in the E. miniata–E. tetrodonta open forests of the Gunn Point region near Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. In all, 29 tree species from four phenological guilds were recorded in these forests. Stand structure suggests that the forests were still recovering from the impacts of cyclone Tracy and subsequent frequent fires. Eucalyptus miniata and E. tetrodonta were significant contributors to overstorey leaf area index and standing biomass (>70%), and both leaf area index and biomass were strongly correlated to basal area. Leaf area index was at a maximum (about 1.0) at the end of the wet season and declined over the dry season by about 30–40%. There were proportionally greater changes in the understorey reflecting the greater contribution of deciduous and semi-deciduous species in this strata. Standing biomass was about 55 t ha –1 . Detailed descriptions of leaf area index and biomass are important inputs into the development of a water and carbon balance for the savanna’s of northern Australia.

© CSIRO 2000

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