Vegetation dynamics in response to fire and slashing in remnants of Western Basalt Plains grasslands
Meredith Henderson and Colin Hocking
- Vegetation dynamics in response to fire and slashing in remnants of Western Basalt Plains grasslands: Preliminary results (PDF - 193 KB)
About the report
The Western Basalt Plains is an area of flat to undulating land extending from Melbourne to Hamilton, in the west of Victoria. The area, covering some 10% of the state, historically was dominated by lowland grassland with Themeda triandra, Danthonia spp., Stipa spp. and Poa labillardieri appearing as main canopy species. Since European settlement, however, this area of native grassland has been much reduced and only 0.1 % remain. Less than one-thousandth of a percent of this is reserved for conservation (DCE, 1992; Lunt, 1994).
Maintenance of biodiversity is an issue of critical importance in reserve management. The remnants of Western Basalt Plains grassland need to be actively managed through aboveground biomass reduction (Stuwe and Parsons, 1977; McDougall 1989; Lunt, 1994; Lunt and Morgan 1997 [this conference]). Previous studies show that without frequent above ground biomass reduction, Themeda triandra detritus accumulates and tends to swamp out forbs in the inter-tussock gaps (Stuwe and Parsons, 1977; Lunt, 1991). In Western Basalt Plains grasslands, reduction in biodiversity can be attributed to the loss of the inter-tussock forb component.
This project investigates the dynamics of the vegetation in remnants of Western Basalt Plains grasslands, in the west of Melbourne, in response to fire and slashing. Results presented here address changes in biomass of Themeda triandra and exotic species with burning and slashing and, gap size changes with burning and slashing.