Grazing and drought reduce cyanobacterial soil crusts in an Australian Acacia woodland

Williams, Wendy J., Eldridge, David J. and Alchin, Bruce M. (2008) Grazing and drought reduce cyanobacterial soil crusts in an Australian Acacia woodland. Journal of Arid Environments, 72 6: 1064-1075. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2007.11.017

Author Williams, Wendy J.
Eldridge, David J.
Alchin, Bruce M.
Title Grazing and drought reduce cyanobacterial soil crusts in an Australian Acacia woodland
Journal name Journal of Arid Environments   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0140-1963
Publication date 2008-06
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2007.11.017
Volume 72
Issue 6
Start page 1064
End page 1075
Total pages 12
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Abstract Cyanobacteria-dominant soil crusts are important components of unvegetated interspaces in Australia's semi-arid rangelands. We studied the changes in crust cover and floristics at increasing distances up to 500 m from three stock watering points in western Queensland's Mulga bioregion between 2002 and 2005. Sampling times corresponded with pre-drought (2002), drought (2003), early post-drought (2004) and late post-drought (2005) periods. Cyanobacterial cover increased markedly with increasing distance from water, with the largest changes occurring within 200 m of water. The change in cover with distance from water was most pronounced before the drought compared with during or after drought. Crust composition also changed in relation to distance from water, and the abundance of three cyanobacteria (Scytonema sp., Stigonema ocellatum, Porphyrosiphon notarissi) was greater away from water. The diversity of crust species increased significantly with distance from water, and was greatest in the late post-drought period. Although cyanobacterial crusts were present close to water (<100 m) before the drought, cover close to water had not recovered to pre-drought levels 2 years after drought. Our results indicate that excessive damage by stock trampling has an immediate impact on crusts and reduces their capacity to recover after drought. Changes in the severity or intensity of drought may therefore accelerate degradation processes and compromise the ability of crusts to recover after grazing.
Keyword Cyanobacteria
Microphytic crusts
Livestock watering points
Nutrient cycling
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 12 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 18 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 03 Sep 2009, 10:02:52 EST by Mr Andrew Martlew on behalf of School of Agriculture and Food Sciences