An investigation of the soil seedbank and seed germination of perennial species in Belah (Casuarina pauper) woodlands in north-west Victoria Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Semiarid and arid woodlands across much of southern Australia have been subject to prolonged high total grazing pressure leading to loss of species diversity and a lack of recruitment of long-lived perennial species. Regeneration of perennial species requires grazing pressure to be maintained at low levels, but gaps remain in our ecological understanding of regeneration potential. The present study investigated the abundance of germinable seed in the soil seedbank in high quality remnants of Casuarina pauper F.Muell. ex L.A.S.Johnson (Belah) woodlands in north-west Victoria. Seed viability and response to six seed pretreatments including dry heat, wet heat, smoky water, soaking in distilled water, cold stratification and sand scarification were also tested to determine whether seed factors may be limiting regeneration. Results suggest that seed viability was not a limiting regeneration factor for nine out of the 10 perennial species tested with the exception of Alectryon oleifolius S.T. Reynolds. Only small amounts of seed from perennial species, largely Chenopodiaceae species and C. pauper, were found in the soil seedbanks of intact sites, suggesting component perennial species do not maintain long-term soil seedbanks. Results suggest that natural recovery of perennial species diversity in depauperate sites will depend on seed dispersal.

publication date

  • 2018