Vegetation, fauna and groundwater interrelations in low nutrient temperate montane peat swamps in the upper Blue Mountains, New South Wales

  • Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamps are a series of low nutrient temperate montane peat swamps around 1100 m elevation in the upper Blue Mountains, west of Sydney (lat 33° 23’ S; long 150° 13’E). Transect-based vegetation studies show a closely related group of swamps with expanses of permanently moist, gently sloping peatlands. Vegetation patterns are related to surface hydrology and subsurface topography, which determine local peat depth. While there is evidence that a group of the highest elevation swamps on the western side of the Plateau are more dependent on rainwater, the majority of swamps, particularly those in the Carne Creek catchment, and east and south of it, may beconsidered primarily groundwater dependent with a permanently high watertable maintained by groundwater aquifers. An integral part of the swamps are a number of threatened groundwater dependent biota (plants–Boronia deanei subsp. deanei, Dillwynia stipulifera, dragonfly– Petalura gigantea, lizard– Eulamprus leuraensis), which are obligate swamp dwellers. This association of dependence leaves the entire swamp ecosystem highly susceptible to threats from any loss of groundwater, the current major one being the impact of damage to the confining aquicludes, aquitards, aquifers and peat substrates as a result of subsidence associated with longwall mining. Impacts on the swamps may also result from changes to hydrology through damming of creeks, mine waste water discharge, increased moisture competition from pine plantations, recreational motorbike and off-road vehicle tracks and climate change. If these groundwater dependent ecosystems do not receive protection from activities such as longwall mining subsidence, significant ecological damage is unlikely to be avoided or able to be mitigated even where provisions of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation and NSW Threatened Species Conservation Acts apply to groundwater dependent swamps and biota. The importance of the highest elevation part of the Plateau for a number of restricted (some endemic) plant species is also discussed.

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Author:Doug Benson, Ian R. C. Baird
Parent Title (English):Cunninghamia : a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia
Publisher:Mount Annan Botanic Garden, The Administration Officer
Place of publication:Mount Annan, NSW
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/03/28
Date of first Publication:2012/10/24
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/03/28
Page Number:41
First Page:267
Last Page:307
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlungen:Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:Cunninghamia : A Journal of Plant Ecology for Eastern Australia / Cunninghamia : A Journal of Plant Ecology for Eastern Australia, Volume 12, Issue 4 (2012)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht