Observations on survival and early growth of natural regeneration in floodplain coolibah Eucalyptus victrix (Myrtaceae) in the Pilbara, Western Australia

J. E.D. Fox, S. K. Florentine, M. E. Westbrooke, Cameron Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Observations are presented on the natural regeneration of Eucalyptus victrix L. Johnson and K. Hill (coolibah), the dominant tree species of grassy woodlands on the floodplain of the Fortescue River, north of Newman in the Pilbara district of Western Australia. The main objectives of this study were to examine: (i) survival of newly recruited E. victrix seedlings on flooded and burnt sites, and (ii) growth and survival of established plants in a gilgaied landscape. Populations of newly-recruited seedlings following flooding or fire were monitored opportunistically at 'Marillana' and 'Ethel Creek' stations, for up to two years from tagging. A population of saplings at 'Roy Hill' station was observed over eight years. Seedling densities of E. victrix in flooded sites were 0.32 and 1.03 plants/m2 in 1995 and 1997 respectively. Locally high densities reached from 1.2 to 17.7 plants/m2 on areas of 28 and 6 m2 respectively. At the burnt site at 'Ethel Creek', 1.30 plants/m2 were observed where 58 seedlings were recorded on an area of 445 m2 a year after a natural fire. Many of these persisted well into their second year, whereas seedlings recruited in the flooded sites generally lasted less than a year (250-376 days). In contrast, persistence of a cohort of 100 established saplings <2 m tall in a gilgaied landscape at 'Roy Hill' was high. During 8 years of observations, only one sapling was lost. Those found at the edges of gilgais had attained greater heights (3.91 ± 1.14 m) than saplings located inside (3.16 ± 0.95 m) or on top (3.12 ± 0.93 m) of the gilgais. This study demonstrates that the seedling stage in E. victrix is critical, in that once newly recruited individuals reach the sapling stage (0.6-1 m), mortality rates are much reduced. Unfortunately, it was not possible during the course of this study to locate a cohort of young seedlings that did survive and so any consideration of the conditions necessary for their survival is speculative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalThe Rangeland Journal
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

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