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Title: Divergent responses to long-term grazing exclusion among three plant communities in a flood pulsing wetland in eastern Australia
Contributor(s): Berney, Peter  (author); Wilson, Glenn  (author); Ryder, Darren  (author); Whalley, Ralph D  (author)orcid ; Duggin, John A  (author); McCosker, Robert O (author)
Publication Date: 2014
DOI: 10.1071/PC140237
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Abstract: We examined the effects of grazing exclusion over a period of 14 years on the species richness and community composition of three plant communities with different dominant species and water regimes in the Gwydir Wetlands in eastern Australia. Responses to grazing exclusion varied among the three plant communities, and were most likely to be evident during dry periods rather than during periods of inundation. In frequently flooded plant communities, there was an increase in phytomass following exclusion of domestic livestock, but changes in plant community composition and species richness due to livestock exclusion varied depending on the morphological attributes of the dominant plant species. In a plant community where tall sedge species were dominant, livestock exclusion further increased their dominance and overall species richness declined. In contrast, where a prostrate grass species such as 'Paspalum distichum' was dominant, species richness increased following livestock exclusion, due to an increase in the abundance of taller dicotyledon species. However, livestock exclusion in a community where flooding was less frequent and native grass species have been largely replaced with the introduced species 'Phyla canescens', resulted in no significant changes to phytomass, species richness or community composition among the grazing exclusion treatments over time. Our results indicate responses to exclusion of domestic livestock are dependent upon the dominant species within the plant community and will likely vary over time with the extent of wetland inundation. Grazing exclusion alone, without increased flooding, is unlikely to restore floristically degraded floodplain plant communities.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Pacific Conservation Biology, 20(3), p. 237-251
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 2204-4604
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 060204 Freshwater Ecology
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 310304 Freshwater ecology
410401 Conservation and biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 180502 Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems
180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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