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Patterns of long-term woody vegetation change in a sandstone-plateau savanna woodland, Northern Territory, Australia

Sharp, Ben R. and Bowman, David M. J. S. (2004). Patterns of long-term woody vegetation change in a sandstone-plateau savanna woodland, Northern Territory, Australia. Journal of Tropical Ecology,20(3):259-270.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 25 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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Title Patterns of long-term woody vegetation change in a sandstone-plateau savanna woodland, Northern Territory, Australia
Author Sharp, Ben R.
Bowman, David M. J. S.
Journal Name Journal of Tropical Ecology
Publication Date 2004
Volume Number 20
Issue Number 3
ISSN 0266-4674   (check CDU catalogue  open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-2542504856
Start Page 259
End Page 270
Total Pages 12
Place of Publication Cambridge, U.K.
Publisher Cambridge University Press
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Aerial photographs were used to assess changes in woody vegetation cover at 122 locations within a sandstone-plateau savanna woodland in the Victoria River region, Northern Territory, Australia. Despite locally variable vegetation responses, there has been little change in total woody vegetation cover since 1948. Thirty-three locations were also surveyed on the ground. It was found that sites for which vegetation cover had changed over the 50-y period were not significantly different from stable sites in terms of floristic composition, recent fire history, demographic stability among the dominant tree species, or edaphic setting. However, two of the dominant overstorey tree species – Eucalyptus tetrodonta and Eucalyptus phoenicea – showed significantly higher mortality on sites that had experienced vegetation cover decline since 1948. We suggest that observed changes in woody vegetation cover are a consequence of natural cycles of die-back and recovery of at least these two species in response to spatially heterogenous variables such as dry-season moisture stress. Although the widespread decline of fire-sensitive Callitris intratropica populations clearly indicates a historical shift from lower- to higher-intensity burning conditions within the study area, we reject the hypothesis of a landscape-wide process such as changing fire regimes or climatic change as the driving factor behind large-scale vegetation changes detected by aerial photographic analysis.
Keywords aerial photographs
Australian monsoon tropics
landscape fire
tropical savanna
vegetation dynamics
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266467403001238   (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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