The early response of subtropical tussock grasslands to restoration treatments

Ladouceur, Emma and Mayfield, Margaret M. (2017) The early response of subtropical tussock grasslands to restoration treatments. Restoration Ecology, 1-7. doi:10.1111/rec.12491

Author Ladouceur, Emma
Mayfield, Margaret M.
Title The early response of subtropical tussock grasslands to restoration treatments
Journal name Restoration Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1526-100X
Publication date 2017-01-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/rec.12491
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Once widespread, Australia's bluegrass tussock grasslands (dominated by Dichanthium sp.) of the Queensland Central Highlands are now severely endangered. Despite being biodiversity rich and highly valued as low input, nutrient-dense grazing systems, bluegrass tussock grasslands have suffered extensive clearing and degradation over the last 150 years. Natural recovery of these grasslands is possible but rates of recovery are slow. As such, there is an urgent need to assess practical management strategies to accelerate recovery of these grasslands, with a particular focus on early-successional stages, when aggressive exotic species are most prevalent. To date, no studies have tested whether commonly used grassland restoration strategies can enhance early-successional stages and accelerate regeneration in this system. Here, we examine the early short-term impacts (first two seasons) of two common grassland restoration approaches, with two variations each: direct seeding (single species and low seed diversity) and vegetation clearing (prescribed burning and glyphosate application) across two common starting points: a formerly cropped old field and a historically overgrazed natural grassland. No treatment increased native diversity (Shannon's or richness) in plots but the composition of burned plots in the old field did become more similar to healthy reference sites after two seasons. Burning combined with direct seeding also increased the abundance of the dominant grass, Dichanthium sericeum, toward healthy reference levels within the first two seasons post seeding. This study provides a practical assessment of the short-term impacts and capacity of common grassland restoration treatments to enhance the recovery of Australia's tussock grassland systems.
Keyword Australia
Direct seeding
Prescribed burning
Queensland Central Highlands
Short term
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Created: Fri, 24 Mar 2017, 16:25:13 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences