Effects of salinisation on riparian plant communities in experimental catchments on the Collie River, Western Australia

A. J. Lymbery, R. G. Doupé, N. E. Pettit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although the salinisation of streams has long been recognised as one of Western Australia's most serious environmental and resource problems, there is very little published information on the effects of salinisation on riparian flora and fauna. We studied riparian vegetation in three experimental catchments on the Collie River in Western Australia. The catchments are situated within a 5-km area of state forest and are geologically and botanically similar, but differ in the extent of clearing, groundwater levels and stream salinity. In each catchment, transects were taken perpendicular to the direction of streamflow, and 4-m2 quadrats taken along each transect. Within each quadrat, soil salinity was measured, all plants were identified to species level and percentage cover estimated. The catchments differed significantly in soil salinity, with salinity being greatest in the most extensively cleared catchment and increasing towards the floor of the valley. Plant-species richness, species diversity and species composition were significantly related to soil salinity, both among catchments and among quadrats within the most extensively cleared catchment. Plant-species richness and diversity decreased with increasing soil salinity, an effect that may be partly due to a decline in perennial herb and shrub species. This may have an impact on other components of the riparian ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-672
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
Volume51
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

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