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

Simulation of the Effect of Season of Fire on Post-Fire Seedling Emergence of Two Banksia Species Based on Long-Term Rainfall Records

RA Bradstock and M Bedward

Australian Journal of Botany 40(1) 75 - 88
Published: 1992


Simulations were used to investigate the effect of season of fire on seedling emergence in Banksia ericifolia and B. serrata in the Sydney region, New South Wales. The simulations were based on models of soil-surface moisture in response to rainfall, seedling emergence response to soil moisture and post-fire seed release from fruits as determined by fire intensity, derived from field and laboratory studies. Fires were modelled on the first day of each calendar month for a 50-year period. Levels of post-fire seedling emergence were calculated using rainfall data from the Sydney Observatory for the corresponding period (1931-1980). Trends in seedling emergence as a function of month of fire were examined. Alternative sets of simulations were performed to assess the effect of variations in post-dispersal seed mortality, fire intensity and induced summer dormancy.

In both species, mean emergence was affected by season of fire only when a 10% per month level of post-dispersal seed mortality was simulated (there was no fire-season effect at lower mortality levels). Highest predicted emergence occurred after summer fires and lowest emergence after winter fires. A reduction in rate of seed release (lower intensity fire) and induced seed dormancy in summer also had a minor effect with respect to fire-season in B. ericifolia.

Reported levels of post-dispersal seed mortality in Banksia species are often high, and therefore, the simulations suggested that there will be an effect of fire season on seedling emergence. However, given the high level of year to year variation in seasonal rainfall in the Sydney region, fire-season effects are not predictable in the short term. In the longer term, the timing of fire relative to sequences of wet and dry years may be of equal importance to season of fire in its effect on populations of these species.

© CSIRO 1992

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