CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Australian Journal of Botany   
Australian Journal of Botany
Journal Banner
  Southern Hemisphere Botanical Ecosystems
 
blank image Search
 
blank image blank image
blank image
 
  Advanced Search
   

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Board
Contacts
Content
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Turner Review Series
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Notice to Authors
Submit Article
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter youtube

red arrow PrometheusWiki
blank image
PrometheusWiki
Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology

 

Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 49(5)

The 'wilderness effect' and the decline of Callitris intratropica on the Arnhem Land Plateau, northern Australia

D. M. J. S. Bowman, Owen Price, P. J. Whitehead and Angie Walsh

Australian Journal of Botany 49(5) 665 - 672
Published: 2001

Abstract

An aerial survey along a transect from eastern side of the Arnhem Land Plateau where Aboriginal people still lead a semi-traditional lifestyle, to the unoccupied western side of the Plateau, revealed systematic differences in the proportion of living and dead Callitris intratropica trees. Multiple regression analysis showed that the highest proportion of dead C. intratropica stems occurred on unoccupied, level terrain dominated by open Eucalyptus forests, with a minor or complete absence of Allosyncarpia ternata closed-canopy forests. A detailed study of one population of C. intratropica in western Arnhem Land adjacent to a small patch of A. ternata forest, known as Round Jungle, showed that the population had a unimodal size-class distribution, reflecting a low density of stems less than 10 cm in diameter at breast height (dbh). A computer simulation model was developed on the basis of estimates of annual fecundity, mortality and growth rates derived from observations of the stand. Sensitivity analyses suggested that a well-stocked stand could be transformed to one similar to that observed at Round Jungle after 50 years, if annual mortality rate of the immature stems (i.e. <12 cm dbh) was greater than 85%. Under these conditions, the stand would become extinct after 325 years. Variation in estimates of mature-stem (>12 cm dbh) mortality and fecundity had much less effect on the predictions of the model than the rate of mortality of the smallest size class. The model suggests that C. intratropica populations can rapidly fluctuate in response to changes in fire regime, while extinction is a gradual process and is consequently unlikely if some seedlings can escape burning, for instance by establishing in fire-protected microsites. This conclusion is consistent with the observed greater mortality of C. intratropica on sand sheets that have little topographic variability at the micro- or mesoscale, compared with other habitat types in areas that are currently unoccupied by Aboriginal people. Our study shows that predicting the fate of individual populations will require careful consideration of local factors such as the presence of micro-topographically safe sites for seedling establishment, as well as the surrounding pattern of vegetation and landforms that mediate the impact of fire on C. intratropica. However, we suggest that rather than refining details of the adjustment of C. intratropica in response to changed fire regimes associated with European colonisation, subsequent research should focus on the effect and significance of these changes for other organisms.



Full text doi:10.1071/BT00087

© CSIRO 2001

blank image
Subscriber Login
Username:
Password:  

 
PDF (418 KB) $25
 Export Citation
 Print
  
    
Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help

CSIRO

© CSIRO 1996-2014