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Floristic composition and pasture condition of Aristida/Bothriochloa pastures in central Queensland. II. Soil and pasture condition interactions

Silcock, R. G. and Hall, T. J. and Filet, P. G. and Kelly, A. M. and Osten, D. and Graham, T. W. G. (2015) Floristic composition and pasture condition of Aristida/Bothriochloa pastures in central Queensland. II. Soil and pasture condition interactions. Rangeland Journal, 37 (2). pp. 217-226. ISSN 1036-9872; 1834-7541

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ14107

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/RJ14107

Abstract

Sustainable management of native pastures requires an understanding of what the bounds of pasture composition, cover and soil surface condition are for healthy pastoral landscapes to persist. A survey of 107 Aristida/Bothriochloa pasture sites in inland central Queensland was conducted. The sites were chosen for their current diversity of tree cover, apparent pasture condition and soil type to assist in setting more objective bounds on condition ‘states’ in such pastures. Assessors’ estimates of pasture condition were strongly correlated with herbage mass (r = 0.57) and projected ground cover (r = 0. 58), and moderately correlated with pasture crown cover (r = 0.35) and tree basal area (r = 0.32). Pasture condition was not correlated with pasture plant density or the frequency of simple guilds of pasture species. The soil type of Aristida/Bothriochloa pasture communities was generally hard-setting, low in cryptogam cover but moderately covered with litter and projected ground cover (30–50%). There was no correlation between projected ground cover of pasture and estimated ground-level cover of plant crowns. Tree basal area was correlated with broad categories of soil type, probably because greater tree clearing has occurred on the more fertile, heavy-textured clay soils. Of the main perennial grasses, some showed strong soil preferences, for example Tripogon loliiformis for hard-setting soils and Dichanthium sericeum for clays. Common species, such as Chrysopogon fallax and Heteropogon contortus, had no strong soil preference. Wiregrasses (Aristida spp.) tended to be uncommon at both ends of the estimated pasture condition scale whereas H. contortus was far more common in pastures in good condition. Sedges (Cyperaceae) were common on all soil types and for all pasture condition ratings. Plants identified as increaser species were Tragus australianus, daisies (Asteraceae) and potentially toxic herbaceous legumes such as Indigofera spp. and Crotalaria spp. Pasture condition could not be reliably predicted based on the abundance of a single species or taxon but there may be scope for using integrated data for four to five ecologically contrasting plants such as Themeda triandra with daisies, T. loliiformis and flannel weeds (Malvaceae).

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:ground cover, indicator species, range condition, , .
Subjects:Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Deposited On:06 Jul 2015 05:20
Last Modified:06 Jul 2015 05:20

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