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Environmental factors influencing the establishment, height and fecundity of the annual grass Sorghum intrans in an Australian tropical savanna

Scott, Kenneth A., Setterfield, Samantha A., Douglas, Michael M. and Andersen, Alan N. (2010). Environmental factors influencing the establishment, height and fecundity of the annual grass Sorghum intrans in an Australian tropical savanna. Journal of Tropical Ecology,26(3):313-322.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 81704288xPUB95
Title Environmental factors influencing the establishment, height and fecundity of the annual grass Sorghum intrans in an Australian tropical savanna
Author Scott, Kenneth A.
Setterfield, Samantha A.
Douglas, Michael M.
Andersen, Alan N.
Journal Name Journal of Tropical Ecology
Publication Date 2010
Volume Number 26
Issue Number 3
ISSN 0266-4674   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-77952530648
Start Page 313
End Page 322
Total Pages 9
Place of Publication Cambridge, U.K.
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Abstract Environmental factors influencing grass establishment and performance in tropical savannas are poorly understood, particularly in relation to disturbance. We describe a seed sowing experiment that examined the effects of fire regime, canopy cover and litter cover on the emergence, establishment, height and fecundity (seed production) of the regionally dominant annual grass Sorghum intrans in northern Australia. Establishment was significantly lower under the woody canopy compared with canopy gaps, and where seeds were sown on a layer of litter compared with bare soil. However, variation in fire regime had no significant effect on establishment or seed production. Additionally, a shade-house experiment was conducted to test the effects of litter on seedling emergence of S. intrans and six other grass species representative of the local flora (Pseudopogonatherum contortum, Sorghum plumosum, Chrysopogon latifolius, Eriachne triseta, Heteropogon triticeus and Alloteropsis semialata). All species showed reduced emergence when sown either above or below litter, compared with bare soil. Our results demonstrate the importance of the overstorey as a determinant of S. intrans abundance and savanna grass composition more generally, through its effect on establishment. The aversion of savanna grasses to litter (and S. intrans to canopy shading) supports the notion of savanna species being highly adapted to disturbance.
Keywords canopy cover
fire regime
grass dynamics
litter
microsites
northern Australia
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266467409990629   (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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