Post-fire vegetation dynamics in nutrient-enriched and non-enriched sclerophyll woodland

Vivien P. Thomson, Michelle R. Leishman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Exotic plant invasions are a significant problem in urban bushland in Sydney, Australia. In low-nutrient Hawkesbury Sandstone communities, invasive plants are often associated with urban run-off and subsequent increases in soil nutrients, particularly phosphorus. Fire is an important aspect of community dynamics in Sydney vegetation, and is sometimes used in bush regeneration projects as a tool for weed control. This study addressed the question: 'Are there differences in post-fire resprouting and germination of native and exotic species in nutrient-enriched communities, compared with communities not disturbed by nutrient enrichment?' We found that in non-enriched areas, few exotic species emerged, and those that did were unable to achieve the rapid growth that was seen in exotic plants in the nutrient-enriched areas. Therefore, fire did not promote the invasion of exotic plants into areas that were not nutrient-enriched. In nutrient-enriched areas after fire, the diversity of native species was lower than in the non-enriched areas. Some native species were able to survive and compete with the exotic species in terms of abundance, per cent cover and plant height. However, these successful species were a different suite of natives to those commonly found in the non-enriched areas. We suggest that although fire can be a useful tool for short-term removal of exotic plant biomass from nutrient-enriched areas, it does not promote establishment of native species that were not already present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-260
Number of pages11
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2005

Keywords

  • ecological restoration
  • Hawkesbury Sandstone soil
  • nutrient enrichment
  • phosphorus
  • weed invasion

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