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The impact of fire on riparian vegetation in Australia's tropical savanna

Douglas, Michael M., Setterfield, Samantha A., McGuinness, Keith A. and Lake, Philip S. (2015). The impact of fire on riparian vegetation in Australia's tropical savanna. Freshwater Science,34(4):1351-1365.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 81144320xPUB198
Title The impact of fire on riparian vegetation in Australia's tropical savanna
Author Douglas, Michael M.
Setterfield, Samantha A.
McGuinness, Keith A.
Lake, Philip S.
Journal Name Freshwater Science
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 34
Issue Number 4
ISSN 2161-9565   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84953735328
Start Page 1351
End Page 1365
Total Pages 15
Place of Publication United States of America
Publisher University of Chicago Press
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Intermittent streams drain much of the world’s tropical savannas, yet these vitally important stream ecosystems are among the most poorly understood components of tropical savannas. Fire is a widely used management tool in tropical savannas, but the effects of prescribed burning on savanna streams or riparian zones have not been investigated experimentally. This study was undertaken within a catchment-scale, replicated experiment to determine the effect of prescribed burning on savanna riparian zones in northern Australia. Regardless of position along the stream, burning had dramatic effects on the composition and structure of the riparian vegetation. Woody species richness and total abundance, the abundance of small- and medium-sized trees, total basal area, canopy cover, and the richness and cover of vines were reduced by burning, whereas grass cover was much higher in burned areas. Fire also reduced seed production of the dominant riparian eucalypt. This study adds greatly to our understanding of the effects of fire management on savanna riparian zones and demonstrates that they are far more fire sensitive than the surrounding savanna.
Keywords Riparian zone
Intermittent stream
Fire regime
Northern Australia
Monsoonal tropics
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