Treeless vegetation of the Australian Alps

  • Based on 1222 floristic quadrat samples, 56 plant communities were identified in treeless vegetation in the Australian Alps of south-eastern Australia. (c. 35º 30´–38ºS, 146°–149°E). The study encompassed vegetation from above the upper limit of trees on mountain tops (i.e. the truly alpine environment) and below the inverted treeline in subalpine valleys. Generally, grasslands develop on deep humus soils, heathlands occur on shallower or rocky soils, and wetland communities are found in places of permanent or intermittent wetness. Duration of snow cover, lithology, altitude and exposure are also important determinants of the spatial arrangement of communities. Broadly, communities within a geographic region are more closely related to each other than to communities of similar structure or dominants from other geographic areas. Many communities are either very localised or are widespread with a small area of occupancy. Fourteen communities are probably eligible for listing as threatened, either alone or as aggregates with associated communities. A total of 710 native taxa from 82 families has been recorded. There is a high level of endemism – 30% of taxa are ± restricted to treeless vegetation in the Australia Alps and a further 14% are ± restricted to treeless vegetation but occur in mountain areas outside the Australian mainland (e.g. Tasmania and New Zealand). Thirteen taxa are listed in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as threatened and a further 18 taxa are identified that may be eligible for listing as threatened nationally. 131 non-native taxa have been recorded in natural vegetation. Treeless vegetation has been intensively utilised since European settlement, initially as summer pastures for cattle and sheep but more recently as water catchments for electricity production and as tourist attractions both in winter and summer. Many communities are slowly recovering from past pressures and from the fires of 2003, which burnt most of the area for the first time since 1939. The treeless vegetation of the Australian Alps faces an uncertain future because of increased pressure from tourism and the unknown impacts of global warming.

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Author:Keith L. McDougall, Neville G. Walsh
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):2013/06/24
Year of first Publication:2007
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/06/24
Page Number:57
First Page:1
Last Page:57
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 10, Issue 1 (2007)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht