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Testing the grass-fire cycle: alien grass invasion in the tropical savannas of northern Australia

Rossiter-Rachor, Natalie A., Setterfield, Samantha A., Douglas, Michael M. and Hutley, Lindsay B. (2003). Testing the grass-fire cycle: alien grass invasion in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. Diversity and Distributions,9(3):169-176.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 126 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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Title Testing the grass-fire cycle: alien grass invasion in the tropical savannas of northern Australia
Author Rossiter-Rachor, Natalie A.
Setterfield, Samantha A.
Douglas, Michael M.
Hutley, Lindsay B.
Journal Name Diversity and Distributions
Publication Date 2003
Volume Number 9
Issue Number 3
ISSN 1472-4642   (check CDU catalogue  open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-0038513931
Start Page 169
End Page 176
Total Pages 8
Place of Publication Oxford, England
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Field of Research 0502 - Environmental Science and Management
0501 - Ecological Applications
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Invasive alien grasses can increase fuel loads, leading to changes in fire regimes of invaded ecosystems by increasing the frequency, intensity and spatial extent of fires. Andropogon gayanus Kunth. (Gamba grass), a tall perennial grass from Africa, is invading ecosystems in the Top End of northern Australia. To determine whether A. gayanus alters savanna fire regimes, we compared fuel loads and fire intensities at invaded sites with those from native grass savannas. Savanna invaded by A. gayanus had fuel loads up to seven times higher than those dominated by native grasses. This higher fuel load supported a fire that was on average eight times more intense than those recorded in native grass savannas at the same time of year (means 15700 ± 6200 and 2100 ± 290 kW m−1, respectively), and was the highest early dry season fire intensities ever recorded in the Northern Territory. These results suggest that A. gayanus is a serious threat to northern Australia's savannas, with the potential to alter vegetation structure and initiate a grass-fire cycle.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1472-4642.2003.00020.x   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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