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Buffel grass in Queensland's semi-arid woodlands: response to local and landscape scale variables, and relationship with grass, forb and reptile species.

Eyre, T.J. and Venz, M.F. and Chilcott, C.R. and Whish, G. (2009) Buffel grass in Queensland's semi-arid woodlands: response to local and landscape scale variables, and relationship with grass, forb and reptile species. Rangeland Journal, 31 (3). pp. 293-305.

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ08035

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au/home.htm

Abstract

Buffel grass [Pennisetum ciliare (L.) Link] has been widely introduced in the Australian rangelands as a consequence of its value for productive grazing, but tends to competitively establish in non-target areas such as remnant vegetation. In this study, we examined the influence landscape-scale and local-scale variables had upon the distribution of buffel grass in remnant poplar box (Eucalyptus populnea F. Muell.) dominant woodland fragments in the Brigalow Bioregion, Queensland. Buffel grass and variables thought to influence its distribution in the region were measured at 60 sites, which were selected based on the amount of native woodland retained in the landscape and patch size. An information-theoretic modelling approach and hierarchical partitioning revealed that the most influential variable was the percent of retained vegetation within a 1-km spatial extent. From this, we identified a critical threshold of similar to 30% retained vegetation in the landscape, above which the model predicted buffel grass was not likely to occur in a woodland fragment. Other explanatory variables in the model were site based, and included litter cover and long-term rainfall. Given the paucity of information on the effect of buffel grass upon biodiversity values, we undertook exploratory analyses to determine whether buffel grass cover influenced the distribution of grass, forb and reptile species. We detected some trends; hierarchical partitioning revealed that buffel grass cover was the most important explanatory variable describing habitat preferences of four reptile species. However, establishing causal links - particularly between native grass and forb species and buffel grass - was problematic owing to possible confounding with grazing pressure. We conclude with a set of management recommendations aimed at reducing the spread of buffel grass into remnant woodlands.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Agri-Science, Crop and Food Science
Additional Information:© Australian Rangeland Society.
Keywords:Clearing; fragmentation; grassy woodlands; invasive grass; thresholds; Australian rangelands; Cenchrus ciliaris; conservation biology; pasture; habitat.
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Impact assessment
Science > Statistics
Deposited On:30 Nov 2009 04:13
Last Modified:26 Oct 2011 06:18

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