Changing dominance of key plant species across a Mediterranean climate region: implications for fuel types and future fire regimes

Gibson, Rebecca K., Bradstock, Ross A., Penman, Trent D., Keith, David A. and Driscoll, Don A. 2014, Changing dominance of key plant species across a Mediterranean climate region: implications for fuel types and future fire regimes, Plant ecology, vol. 215, no. 1, pp. 83-95, doi: 10.1007/s11258-013-0280-0.

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Title Changing dominance of key plant species across a Mediterranean climate region: implications for fuel types and future fire regimes
Author(s) Gibson, Rebecca K.
Bradstock, Ross A.
Penman, Trent D.
Keith, David A.
Driscoll, Don A.ORCID iD for Driscoll, Don A. orcid.org/0000-0002-1560-5235
Journal name Plant ecology
Volume number 215
Issue number 1
Start page 83
End page 95
Total pages 13
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Berlin, Germany
Publication date 2014-01
ISSN 1385-0237
1573-5052
Keyword(s) fuel types
herbaceous and woody plants
productivity gradient
Mediterranean climate region
fire regimes
climate change
Summary Herbaceous and woody plants represent different fuel types in flammable ecosystems, due to contrasting patterns of growth and flammability in response to productivity (moisture availability). However, other factors, such as soil type, fire regimes and competitive interactions may also influence the relative composition of herbaceous and woody plants within a community. The Mediterranean climate region of south eastern Australia is transitional between two contrasting fuel systems; herbaceous dominated in the dry north, versus woody plant dominated shrublands in the relatively moist south. Across the rainfall gradient of the region, there are confounded changes in dominant soil types and fire frequency. We used model-subset selection using Akaike's Information Criterion to examine potential driving mechanisms of community compositional change from herbaceous (e.g. Triodia scariosa, Austrostipa sp.) to woody plants (e.g. Beyeria opaca, Leptospermum coriaceum, Acacia ligulata) by measuring relative cover across combinations of rainfall, time since the last fire (TSF) and soil type. We examined the relative influence of environmental versus competitive interactions on determining the cover of perennial hummock grass, T. scariosa, and co-occurring woody shrubs. Rainfall and soil types, rather than competition, were the over-arching determinants of the relative cover of grasses and shrubs. Given the sensitivity to rainfall, our results indicate there is strong potential for the nature of fuel, flammability and fire regimes to be altered in the future via climate change in this region.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s11258-013-0280-0
Field of Research 070503 Forestry Fire Management
0602 Ecology
0607 Plant Biology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Grant ID LP0776604
Copyright notice ©2013, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30078638

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