Login | Request Account (DAF staff only)

Fire frequency has a contrasting effect on vegetation and topsoil in subcoastal heathland, woodland and forest ecosystems, south‐east Queensland, Australia

Share this record

Add to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to XAdd to WechatAdd to Microsoft_teamsAdd to WhatsappAdd to Any

Export this record

View Altmetrics

Dooley, M., Lewis, T. and Schmidt, S. (2023) Fire frequency has a contrasting effect on vegetation and topsoil in subcoastal heathland, woodland and forest ecosystems, south‐east Queensland, Australia. Austral Ecology, 48 (8). pp. 1865-1887. ISSN 1442-9985

Full text not currently attached. Access may be available via the Publisher's website or OpenAccess link.

Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13427


Ecosystems managed with contrasting fire regimes provide insight into the responses of vegetation and soil. Heathland, woodland and forest ecosystems along a gradient of resource availability were burnt over four decades in approximately 3- or 5-year intervals or were unburnt for 45–47 years (heathland, woodland), or experienced infrequent wildfires (forest: 14 years since the last fire). We hypothesized that, relative to unburnt or infrequent fires, frequent burning would favour herbaceous species over woody species and resprouting over obligate seeder species, and reduce understorey vegetation height, and topsoil carbon and nitrogen content. Our hypothesis was partially supported in that herbaceous plant density was higher in frequently burnt vegetation; however, woody plant density was also higher in frequently burnt areas relative to unburnt/infrequently burnt areas, across all ecosystems. In heathland, omission of frequent fire resulted in the dominance of fern Gleichenia dicarpa and subsequent competitive exclusion of understorey species and lower species diversity. As hypothesized, frequent burning in woodland and forest increased the density of facultative resprouters and significantly reduced soil organic carbon levels relative to unburnt sites. Our findings confirm that regular burning conserves understorey diversity and maintains an understorey of lower statured herbaceous plants, although demonstrates the potential trade-off of frequent burning with lower topsoil carbon levels in the woodland and forest. Some ecosystem specific responses to varied fire frequencies were observed, reflecting differences in species composition and fire response traits between ecosystems. Overall, unburnt vegetation resulted in the dominance of some species over others and the different vegetation types were able to withstand relatively high-frequency fire without the loss of biodiversity, mainly due to high environmental productivity and short juvenile periods.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural ecology (General)
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Forestry > Research. Experimentation
Forestry > Forest meteorology. Forest microclimatology
Forestry > Conservation and protection
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia > Queensland
Live Archive:13 Sep 2023 04:13
Last Modified:05 Jan 2024 00:44

Repository Staff Only: item control page