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

The Expansion of Leptospermum laevigatum on the Yanakie Isthmus, Wilson's Promontory, Under Changes in the Burning and Grazing Regimes

LT Bennett

Australian Journal of Botany 42(5) 555 - 564
Published: 1994


The distribution of selected vegetation types on the Yanakie Isthmus, Wilson's Promontory National Park, was mapped from aerial photographs from 1941, 1972 and 1987. The main changes in the vegetation dynamics were: (1) an expansion of Leptospevmum laevigatum into grasslands and into Banksia integrifolia woodlands with herbaceous understoreys, and (2) a stabilisation of dunes by shmbs dominated by Leptospennum laevigatum. The total area of L. laevigatum shrubland and scrub increased from 2179 ha in 1941 to 3436 ha in 1972 and 4516 ha in 1987. Land-use changes in this period included the exclusion of fire in the early 1970s, after a history of regular burning, and an increase in grazing pressure primarily due to population expansions of the rabbit and the eastern grey kangaroo. Fire was not a prerequisite of the L. laevigatum expansion on the Isthmus because the spread continued after fire was excluded; nor was fire the primary cause of the expansion because the percentage yearly increase in the area of L. laevigatum was, on average, similar before and after 1972. An increase in grazing pressure was identified as the probable cause of the L. laevigatum expansion due to: (1) the exposure of bare ground, and (2) the restriction of the feeding range of cattle (known to graze both L. laevigatum and Acacia sophorae on the Isthmus).

© CSIRO 1994

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