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Niche differentiation and regeneration in the seasonally flooded Melaleuca forests of northern Australia

Franklin, Donald C., Brocklehurst, Peter S., Lynch, Dominique and Bowman, David M. J. S. (2007). Niche differentiation and regeneration in the seasonally flooded Melaleuca forests of northern Australia. Journal of Tropical Ecology,23(4):457-467.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 10 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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IRMA ID 73283902xPUB56
Title Niche differentiation and regeneration in the seasonally flooded Melaleuca forests of northern Australia
Author Franklin, Donald C.
Brocklehurst, Peter S.
Lynch, Dominique
Bowman, David M. J. S.
Journal Name Journal of Tropical Ecology
Publication Date 2007
Volume Number 23
Issue Number 4
ISSN 0266-4674   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-34347392129
Start Page 457
End Page 467
Total Pages 11
Place of Publication Cambridge, U.K.
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Field of Research 0502 - Environmental Science and Management
0602 - Ecology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Gallery and floodplain forests in monsoonal northern Australia are mostly sclerophyllous and dominated by five closely related species of Melaleuca (Myrtaceae) amongst which niche differentiation is unclear. We present a floristic and environmental analysis of 'the flooded forest' using data from 340 plots distributed across 450 000 km(2) of the Top End of the Northern Territory. Melaleuca argentea was confined to streams and occurred on sandier substrates, whereas M. cajuputi mostly occurred in the near-coastal lowlands on clay soils. The greater basal area of M. cajuputi suggests an association with productive sites. Melaleuca dealbata, M. viridiflora and M. leucadendra occurred on a wide range of soils. More deeply floodprone sites were occupied by M. argentea and M. leucadendra along streams and by M. leucadendra and M. cajuputi on floodplains and in swamps. A general deficiency but occasional abundance of Melaleuca seedlings suggests that regeneration is episodic. Seedlings were more frequent in recently burnt areas and especially where fires had been severe. We propose that Melaleuca forests occur where disturbance by fire and/or floodwater is too great for rain forest to persist, rendering them the wetland analogue to the eucalypts that dominate well-drained portions of the north Australian environment.
Keywords disturbance
ipisodic regeneration
floodplain forest
gallery forest
niche differentiation
paperbark forests
rain forest
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