Recruitment of a keystone tree species must concurrently manage flooding and browsing

Horner, Gillis J., Cunningham, Shaun, Thomson, James R., Baker, Patrick J. and Mac Nally, Ralph 2016, Recruitment of a keystone tree species must concurrently manage flooding and browsing, Journal of applied ecology, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 944-952, doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12601.

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Title Recruitment of a keystone tree species must concurrently manage flooding and browsing
Author(s) Horner, Gillis J.
Cunningham, Shaun
Thomson, James R.
Baker, Patrick J.
Mac Nally, Ralph
Journal name Journal of applied ecology
Volume number 53
Issue number 3
Start page 944
End page 952
Total pages 9
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Ltd
Place of publication Chichester, Eng
Publication date 2016-06-01
ISSN 0021-8901
Keyword(s) Eucalyptus camaldulensis
floodplain forests
climate change
keystone tree species
population viability
river regulation
salt tolerance
Summary Multiple pressures (land-use change, water extraction and climate change) interact to influence biodiversity and ecosystem processes, but direct evidence for interactions among multiple pressures is limited. Floodplain forests are an acute example of how interacting pressures (river regulation, water extraction, decreasing rainfall and mammal browsing) interact to degrade native ecosystems. We conducted a 2-year field experiment to determine how flooding, browsing and sediment salinity interacted to determine in situ seedling survival and growth of the keystone floodplain tree species (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh.). On semi-arid floodplains of southern Australia, 1-year-old seedlings were planted on the banks of six ephemeral creeks, three of which were flooded with management flows before planting while the others remained dry. Four plots were established at each creek, two open to browsing and two fenced to exclude mammal herbivores. Flooding had a strong positive effect on seedling survival and height, but browsing had strong negative effects. Sediment salinity (a covariate rather than a designed effect) had a weak negative effect on seedling survival and height. The positive effects of flooding were largely offset by the negative interaction with browsing and, to a lesser extent, sediment salinity. Although flooding has been restored to some degraded floodplain forests subjected to river regulation and a drying climate, the long-term success of such actions is likely to be undermined by persistent browsing. Synthesis and applications. Management actions that focus on single pressures (e.g. infrequent flooding) and processes (e.g. mature tree survival) while ignoring other pressures are unlikely to sustain populations of keystone species, suggesting that complementary strategies (managed flooding with herbivore control) are necessary to sustain recruitment and, therefore, ensure the future health of these essential ecosystems.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.12601
Field of Research 050102 Ecosystem Function
050104 Landscape Ecology
050205 Environmental Management
0501 Ecological Applications
0502 Environmental Science And Management
0602 Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
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