The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

Dynamics of Perennial Plants in the Mulga (Acacia aneura F. Muell) Zone of Western Australia. I. Rates of Population Change.

HG Gardiner

The Australian Rangeland Journal 8(1) 18 - 27
Published: 1986


The dynamics of populations of six plant species and their responses to environmental factors were examined at Yeelirrie station in the Mulga Zone rangelands of Western Australia. Populations of plants were sampled using sequential maps drawn from low level aerial photographs of areas from which livestock had been removed and which were fenced either to exclude or permit grazing by kangaroos (Macropus rufus Desmarest and Macropus robustus Gould). All six plant species were favoured by the combination of wet years (1973-76) and the removal of livestock from these arid rangelands. Increases ranged from about 20 plants/ha/yr (Eremophila leucophylla, Benth.) to more than 700 plants/ha/yr (Eremophila spectabrlis, C.A. Gardn.) during this period. Drought (1977-1979) resulted in significant declines that ranged from about 10 plants/ha/yr (Eremophila leucophylla) to nearly 600 plants/ha/yr (Eremophila spectabilis) while three species (Eremophila leucophylla, Marreana glomerifolia, (F. Muell. et Tate) P.G. Wilson and Ptilotus obovatus, Gaud.) either did not change or increased by only 30 to 60 plants/ha/yr during this period. Responses to kangaroo grazing were strongest during 'normal', post-drought years (1980-82) when Eragrostisxerophila, Domin. decreased by 178 plants/ha/yr on grazed areas while on protected areas there was an increase of 299 plants/ha/yr. This response was due to effects on both recruitment and, as discussed by Gardiner (1986), survival. Marreanaglomerifolia, another important plant for livestock was suppressed by kangaroo grazing via reduced recruitment during the 'normal' period. Other species (Frankeniapaucifora, DC. and Eremophila spectabilis) responded positively to kangaroo grazing activity during the same period.

© ARS 1986

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