High macropod populations at Look At Me Now Headland, North Coast NSW: implications for endangered Themeda triandragrasslands on coastal headlands

  • High grazing pressure from over-abundant macropods (kangaroos) is perceived to have a detrimental impact on biodiversity. Studies have shown potential changes in state and retardation of degraded vegetation recovery while other investigations have shown correlations with increased floristic diversity. The responses of grasslands to high impact macropod grazing may not be universal. Endangered Themeda triandra-dominated grasslands, on coastal headlands of New South Wales (NSW) and the associated threatened flora are thought to be negatively affected by high macropod grazing. We assess these assumptions via a comparative investigation across 46 headlands (467 plots) on the North Coast of NSW, and a BACI (Before and After Control Incident) design grazing exclusion experiment at a particularly significant site. We compare floristic richness, species density, evenness, Shannon H, Whittaker Beta Diversity, occurrence of listed threatened flora, average sward height and macropod density. Look At Me Now Headland (LAMN), between Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga has one of the highest recorded population densities of macropods. Here 16 permanent plots were placed with grazing exclusion cages erected around half. Sampling occurred annually (October-November) for four consecutive years (2015-2018). Under high macropod grazing pressure LAMN Headland was found to have the highest scores for total richness, species density, species diversity and moderate to high values for species evenness and beta diversity. Within grazing exclusion plots the sward height increased significantly and was associated with a significant decrease in species density, beta and alpha diversity. Our results indicate that macropod grazing, even at the highest intensities, may be beneficial to floristic species diversity within the endangered Themeda-grasslands of coastal headlands and seacliffs within the North Coast Bioregion of NSW; our broader comparative study would suggest that this may also be the case on other headlands.

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Author:John Thomas Hunter, Vanessa Hewlett Hunter
ISSN:0727- 9620
ISSN:2200 - 405X
Parent Title (English):Cunninghamia : a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2019
Year of first Publication:2019
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/02/10
Tag:BACI; grazing management; monitoring; richness; species diversity; sward height; threatened community; threatened species
Page Number:10
First Page:97
Last Page:106
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 19 (2019)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht