Primary vegetation development on the sand spit of Shallow Inlet, Wilsons Promontory, southern Victoria

  • The sand spit that separates Shallow Inlet from Waratah Bay (38º52ʹ S, 146º13ʹ E), near Wilsons Promontory in southern Victoria, has developed since the previous spit was washed out in 1901. Initially without vegetation, the spit was colonised in the 1960s by the exotic grasses *Thinopyrum junceiforme and to a lesser extent *Ammophila arenaria. These species are native to the coast of western Europe, where they fulfil a key role in dune establishment. Being able to grow through sand accumulating among the culms, these grasses formed mounds where seeds or rhizome fragments were washed up during king tides. Where somewhat sheltered from the strongest impact of the westerlies, mounds gradually coalesced and formed short ridges at the landward side of the spit, and ‘dune fields’ towards its distal end. Circumstances favourable for dune field formation were enhanced by episodic processes in spit growth due to channel shifting in the tidal delta and the gradual lengthening of the main outlet channel. Austrofestuca littoralis and Spinifex sericeus joined the two foreign grasses in their pioneering role. The herbaceous Actites megalocarpa and the shrub Ozothamnus turbinatus established in the lee of the grasses, but conditions on mounds, dune crests and windward slopes are too severe for other species. Only at more sheltered sites is further development of vegetation possible. In the lee of the dune fields it has progressed into an open shrubland, initially of Ozothamnus turbinatus, Olearia axillaris and Olearia glutinosa, later enriched by Acacia longifolia var. sophorae, Leptospermum laevigatum and Leucopogon parviflorus. Wind-dispersed taxa form the dominant component of the vegetation, but several animal-dispersed species became established as well. The complement of woody species begins to resemble that of the dune scrub found elsewhere along this part of the Victorian coast, but several wind-dispersed species, notably Banksia integrifolia, are still lacking and it would appear that dispersal is still a limiting factor in vegetation development. It is pointed out that dune development on the sand spit was initiated by exotic grasses and that without their presence, it is doubtful whether any vegetation would have established there. Many photos support the text- the narrative will say what words can say but words can never say it all (Love 1999).

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Author:Petrus C. Heyligers
Parent Title (English):Cunninghamia : a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/07/18
Year of first Publication:2006
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/07/18
Page Number:25
First Page:571
Last Page:595
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 9, Issue 4 (2006)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht