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Effects of fire history on the structure and floristic composition of woody vegetation around Kalumburu, North Kimberley, Australia: a landscape-scale natural experiment

Vigilante, Tom and Bowman, David (2004). Effects of fire history on the structure and floristic composition of woody vegetation around Kalumburu, North Kimberley, Australia: a landscape-scale natural experiment. Australian Journal of Botany,52(3):381-404.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 33 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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Title Effects of fire history on the structure and floristic composition of woody vegetation around Kalumburu, North Kimberley, Australia: a landscape-scale natural experiment
Author Vigilante, Tom
Bowman, David
Journal Name Australian Journal of Botany
Publication Date 2004
Volume Number 52
Issue Number 3
ISSN 0067-1924   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-2142781064
Start Page 381
End Page 404
Total Pages 24
Place of Publication Collingwood, Victoria, Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Field of Research 0607 - Plant Biology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Indigenous landscape burning is practiced around remote communities in the Kimberleys but has been replaced by wildfires across uninhabited areas. A landscape-scale natural experiment was established to investigate the effects of these different fire histories ( derived from a 10-year Landsat remote-sensing sequence) on the floristic structure and composition of woody vegetation within and among three of the major vegetation types on three landscape types (sandplain, sandstone and volcanics) near Kalumburu in the North Kimberley bioregion. Substrate factors determine vegetation and associated fire patterns within the landscape such that each landscape type needs to be examined independently. Basalt soils are dominated by an open savanna and tend to have very high fire frequencies. Basalt vegetation showed few significant response variables to fire-history parameters. The total density of woody stems showed no significant relationship to fire-history variables, regardless of size class. The 0-2.0-m size class of Erythrophleum chlorostachys (F.Muell.) Baillon showed significant (P < 0.005) responses to the various interactions involving all three fire-history variables, indicating that seedling density is sensitive to fire. Sandplain is dominated by open woodland, with relatively low fire frequency. Total stem density, shrub density and the densities of Grevillea agrifolia Cunn. Ex R. Br., Canthium sp. A and Stenocarpus cunninghamii R. Br. showed strong positive ( P < 0.005) relationships with the total number of fire-free months. In sandstone, the density of all woody stems, acacias and a range of mid-storey trees showed significant positive relationships with the total number of fire-free months. Other species showed strong relationships with the number of late dry season fires. Vegetation thickening was evident in sand environments through the accumulation of woody stems in fire-free years and in sandstone through the promotion of 'fireweeds' such as Acacia gonocarpa F. Muell. after fire events. Mid-storey tree species capable of resprouting after fire showed some evidence of structural suppression in response to frequent fire events, including Planchonia careya (F. Muell.) Knuth, Persoonia falcata R. Br. and Buchanania obovata Engl. Results are discussed in the context of indigenous landscape burning and biodiversity conservation.
Keywords kakadu-national-park
tropical savanna
western-australia
eucalyptus forest
regimes
territory
management
sandstone
conservation
region
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT03156   (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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